As a parent I’ve caught myself telling my kid to think about “how they feel” quite a few times. My daughter (7) is a bit bossy (people who know her are laughing right now because I said a BIT. She’s a lot bossy. Girlfriend needs to be a CEO) and often gets in trouble for trying to micromanage her classmates. My son (11) think he’s hilarious. He often gets in trouble for telling jokes at inappropriate times. So it’s a good idea to try and make them think about the other people in these situations.
“How would you feel if a little girl in your class was trying to tell you how to solve a problem, sit in a chair, or walk in the hallway?”
“How would you feel if you were just trying to do your job and someone busted in and told a joke right in the middle of what you were doing?”
“How would you feel…”
Turns out this old parenting trick is actually a great exercise for writers. The next time you’re sticking your main character in a scene that isn’t quite working…stop. Pick a different character. How do they feel? Is there something they can do or say that will suddenly make your MC aware of this? Take that outside character and, for just a second, make it about them. It reminds us that these people are living in a real world. They’re not floating around alone. Just like us, their consequences effect others.