into another mind living through another situation than writing from the appropriate physical perspective.
For the movie’s female characters, there’s the frisson of gender-bending sex that makes me think of the female writer writing from the male point of view. I don’t know about other female writers, but when I’m a male narrator, unless he's having sex or going to the toilet, I tend to think of the dangly bit between his legs in symbolic, rather than flesh and blood, terms.
Yet at some level we need to convey our characters’ gender, age and physique through their bodies as well as their minds, and to experience those bodies from the inside out. Does a fat person occupy a chair differently to a skinny one: the first squeezing into a confined space and the second getting bum-ache if you leave them sitting too long with insufficient padding? Would a short person notice different things to a tall one as they walk down a street because their gaze is at a different level?
What difference does it make to have big feet, or small? To piss from a standing position or sitting down?
Complicated stuff? It might be easier, in some ways, to create characters with unusual or distorted bodies, than to write from an ordinary body that is not one’s own. But woe betide the writer who lets her attention lapse, even momentarily, and retreats into her own physique.
I had great fun writing about Tamsin, a young woman who wakes up on the morning of her wedding to find that her neck has grown as long as her arm. But with every revision of the story I had to check on the physicals, walking about the house with my hand in the air where I reckoned her head would be to ensure I hadn’t fudged the mechanics.
How is your own writerly kinaesthesia and do you have examples of convincing and unconvincing literary bodies to share?