Einstein and Writing

By Annette Rey

Character Ideas From the Past

Writers should take guidance from history’s greats. Einstein is one of them.

Why do I choose him to feature in this post? Read on and see.

Forget about the genius of Albert Einstein and think of him as a person. What characteristics did he have that made him stand out from the crowd? What was notable about him as a person? What drew the attention of others to him?

If you had no prior knowledge of him, had never seen a picture of him, only just now saw him on the street, what conclusions would you jump to? What prejudices and biases would erupt from the lesser side of you? How would you describe him?

Okay, let’s give free rein to the possible answers from a writer’s point of view.

If I saw him on the street for the first time, I might see him as a lonely man, muttering to himself. His hair wild and unkempt, I might think he was a hermit who neglected himself. I would also think this guy has a past, not only because of his age, but because he would look intriguing to me, a man of many experiences. I might imagine some of those experiences and build scenarios in my mind to fit those images.

I would wonder where are his people and why is he walking in the rain without socks or an umbrella? Is he senile? Now imagine that. I would be wondering if one of the greatest minds in centuries was senile!

In the current day, I have read that his housekeeper had to chase him when he left his house, bearing an umbrella and forcing it upon him because his mind was so preoccupied in thought that he didn’t notice it was raining.

I have also read that he couldn’t add two and two because the computation was so far below his ability. Is this a truism or a manipulation of fact? I wonder. But that is okay in the eye of a writer. You can add any strange twists you’d like.

Einstein is quoted as having said, “Imagination is better than knowledge.”

As a writer, in creating characters, you might study some geniuses and ne’er-do-wells from the past. Their profiles may give you fresh ideas to flesh out some of your imagined actors in your stories.

Along the way you will learn some historical facts.

A win-win venture.

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