Changing your mind

Stories are often about people learning from their experiences.

One way we show that we've learned is by changing our opinions, judgments, or values.

How has the narrator in this snippet changed?

When you stare at a gorilla, it actually means you are challenging them. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time – I was just doing it because they told us not to – but I later learnt that’s the way gorillas communicate with each other. And so, on that day, the gorilla started beating his chest, running around and throwing bamboo at us. We just laughed because we got a reaction. We thought it was funny. But then the teacher saw what we were doing and we got in trouble. It wasn’t until I found out more about gorillas that I realised it was actually very bad behaviour on our part.

  • The narrator summarises a piece of new knowledge about gorillas.
  • They expand on this a little, explaining what they believed as a kid and how they were disobeying their teachers.
  • They describe their old opinion: "we thought it was funny".
  • Then they connect their old behaviour to the new knowledge and revise their opinion: "it was actually very bad behaviour".

What did Frederik learn about fashion, and how did that change what his attitude and perspective?

Fashion, it turns out, is a weapon. I'd had no idea. My mother and father were devout peat merchants, with no love of ornament. All my life I believed my trusty black sack to be all the clothing a man should need; I even wore it on our wedding day. But once I began browsing the magazines at the merchants' guild gentlemen's lounge, I found myself cultivating an interest first in shoes, then stockings and hose, and finally all elements of couture, an interest which began with art and ended in war. I realised I had not only been depriving myself of one of life's great pleasures, but also missing opportunities to use the most subtle siege engine for toppling one's social enemies.

What did Cody learn about wrist guards and knee pads, and how did that change her attitude?

74% of all skateboarding injuries are on your extremities: hands, elbows, knees. Head injuries are rare. The biggest risk is splitting your kneecap or the delicate pea-sized bones in your wrist. Because I like cruising and I take it pretty easy, I'd always thought I was fine to ride without protection (obviously I was willing to put up with the normal scrapes and bruises). But after Aiden stacked it at Enora Mall, snapping both his wrists and spending two months having to hold a juicebox with his elbows, I decided that I wasn't safe so much as lucky and maybe guards and pads were a good idea after all.

This is a tricky exercise because you need to come up with a before and after.

  • Think about something you've already set your character up to value.
    • For Frederik, we'd already set him up to value clothes, so we used that.
    • For Cody, we decided to go beyond skating and instead focus on something semi-controversial in skating, which is safety gear.
  • Then imagine how they might have previously believed this thing was not worthwhile.

Once you have that, you're ready to write:

  1. Have them explain a bit about the knowledge as they now have it, without judgment.
  2. Then have them describe what they used to do and how they evaluated their own behaviour or beliefs at the time.
  3. Finally, have them describe how they acquired their new knowledge, and share their revised opinion.
Write a variation in which the narrator describes how they have changed their opinion about something based on new knowledge.

And that's it! We're finished with this lesson! 🎉