Perspective is the key to telling stories and understanding the best ways to communicate with people.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky is one of the most famous authors of all time. He grew up in Russia during the 1800s and his books – such as Crime & Punishment, The Idiot and Demons are still widely read today.
One of Dostoyevsky’s biggest skills in his writing, asides from his storytelling, was his ability to talk so deeply and truly when it came to mortality.
Mortality is, of course, one of most prevalent human issues and something that we all have in the corner of our minds. So, if an author can talk about this well, they’ll often get our attention right away.
Why was Dostoyevsky so talented when it came to talking about mortality?
Because he had a perspective very few of us will ever be around to share.
He knew what those last few seconds before death felt like.
In 1849 the ruler of Russia at the time, Nicolas I, had banned a lot of famous literature because he was worried that it might stir up revolution.
Being classically non-conformist creatives, Dostoyevsky and his friends had decided to try and read those books. But, unfortunately for them, Nicolas I caught and arrested them.
They faced the death penalty…
So, on a cold day in Saint Petersburg, Dostoyevsky and his friends were blindfolded and lined up in front of a firing squad.
A few moments ticked by.
The Commander motioned for his men to take aim.
Dostoyevsky and co winced as they heard the soldiers preparing to fire.
Seconds before a plethora of triggers were pulled there came another sound…at first it sounded like heavy rain…but soon they realised that it was a horse & cart – approaching them at an electrifying pace.
Aboard the cart was a message from Nicolas I.
What was the message?
Simple. After some consideration Nicolas I had decided to imprison them rather than have them executed.
And, so they survived – and Dostoyevsky lived to write again.
But, this time he was armed with the knowledge of how those few hopeless moments before death felt. A perspective that few others had, and one that he could exploit in his writings.
As a writer, what perspectives do you have that no one else does?
by Ashley Brown 2018
Inspired by this great Quora article