Point of View

Point of View

So what are we talking about here?

Sol Stein’s definition is a good one,

p. 109, ‘The character whose eyes are observing what happens, the perspective from which a scene or story is written.’

Much has been written about ‘Point of View’, so much so that some people begin to get confused about the do’s and don’ts. Others don’t really care; they just want to write.
Sometimes we want to include so much information, all the research we did; what different characters are thinking and saying in response to any given event.

All of that is possible, but remember to keep the reader on board.

When we are listening to friends in a bar or coffee shop there is no confusion about who is saying what; they are present in the room and we are looking at them,  listening to them and sharing their stories.

We can achieve the same when we are writing. Apart from writing an autobiography we write with a mouth-piece, one of the characters, real or made up, usually the most important one for the telling of our tale; THE MAIN CHARACTER.

Having decided who fits this role we then decide on that person’s delivery. The two most popular these days are first person and third person subjective.

FIRST PERSON

It was dark and I kept looking over my shoulder every time the wind blew.

We are in the mind of the character with great immediacy, using  “me, myself, I.”

THIRD PERSON SUBJECTIVE

‘I’m up,’ He shouted, turning over in bed and resting his head on the pillow. For extra measure he banged a shoe up and down on the floor so his mum would think he was walking around. She would set off for work soon and he would be alone. He had no intention of going to school today.

We are in the mind of the character, but once removed, using “he/she, his/her.”

If we want to get into different characters’ minds we can do so in the same way, but need to flag up the change to the reader.

Those that know suggest you keep the characters separated into their own chapters, or if that is not what you are looking for, leave a blank line or two in your document so the savvy reader understands.

First Person POV is alluring but dealing with the first person POV’s ego is harder. As Sol Stein says, p.111 ‘If he sees himself as weak, the reader won’t have much interest in him as a protagonist. If he sees himself as strong, the reader will think him a braggart. Therefore, in the first-person POV the author relies on action and the speech of other characters to reveal things – particularly good things – about the “I” character. An unreliable or villainous first-person narrator can lend credibility…

If the character takes the reader into his confidence, the character can’t “forget” to provide the reader with an essential secret or other important piece of information. When the reader learns that was withheld, he will feel cheated. The most dramatic way of handling information that the character is reluctant to convey is for another character to strip the secret from him in heated conversation.’

What do you think?

Tracy
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