This exercise, adapted from The 3 A.M. Epiphany is all about point of view and “writing the other.”

In the scene you are about to write are two characters: a woman, and a man (boyfriend, husband, father, boss) who is dominating her. There is a long history between these two, and he has always had a certain control over her. It may be physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, but there is a high level of manipulation, influence, and humiliation that is wielded by the man over the woman. In this scene, there can be a threat of physical violence, but only a threat. The control and manipulation must be more subtle. Try to build up a scene that is both uncomfortable and yet still logical, from the controlling man’s perspective. Find ways to make the controller’s actions MAKE SENSE, even as those actions are repulsive or vile.

If you are a man, write the scene from the point of view of the woman. What does she feel, see, hear, experience from her side of the event?

If you are a woman, write the scene from the man’s point of view. How does he justify himself and his actions, both internally and externally?

BONUS POINTS (if we were keeping points):

Write another scene in which the controlling man is a young child and is being dominated and abused (again, we are looking for subtlety, here) by a female figure in his life: mother, grandmother, sister, teacher, babysitter, etc. Write from that man/child’s point of view and make his predicament sympathetic, but not sentimental.

Unblocker #17: Control
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