Thursday, March 19, 2009

Writing Fiction: Session 11 - Point of View

Before you write, it's important to choose the right point of view for your story. Point of view (POV) makes a huge difference in how you will tell your story and how your audience receives it.

Who is telling your story? Once you figure that out, that's your point of view. For example, the story of a murder would be very different through the eyes of a witness than it would be through the eyes of the murderer, and very different through the eyes of the detective.

In point of view, you not only have to decide who will tell the story, but how they will tell the story. For example, there are first, second and third person orientations. There are as many different variations of point of view as your imagination can conjure up. Here are some of the most common:

1. First Person - Singular. In first person point of view, the writer has one of the characters narrate the story and tell it in terms of "I did" or "I saw" orientation. The trick of first person is that the narrator must see or at least know what has happened in order to tell it to you. Therefore, the writer must leave out the parts of the story the narrator would not logically know. The writer (narrator) only can convey what he thinks and feels about the events. A fun part of writing in the first person is that the writer writes in the voice of the character. The writer can make this humorous, sarcastic, or whatever tone he feels works best for that narrator.

2. Multiple First Persons. In some novels, the writer will write different chapters with a different character as the narrator for each. In multiple first persons points of view the readers get a broader version of what's going on beyond the scenes. In many cases, it makes a more interesting read as the reader must decide which of the narrators to believe if there is a conflict in the telling of the story.

3. Third Person - Singular. When telling your story through a third person singular point of view, the narrator is not a character. He tells the story s as what "he did" or "she did" when talking of the characters. If using the third person with singular vision, the narrator has access to one mind. As the writer you need to decide which character to show the story through.

4. Third Person - Multiple. The narrator continues to write in the third person in the third person multiple, but can switch among numerous characters with telling the story from different angles. Make sure your story requires all this insight as it is difficult to execute this method without causing confusion.

5. Omniscient - Third Person. This point of view is often called "god's eye" point of view. The narrator in this case knows everything. The good side of this is that you can provide the reader with inside information that the characters don't know. However, the trouble with it is that the writer almost becomes a part of the story and it's harder for the readers to fully immerse themselves in the story. Suspension of disbelief is important when reading fiction. It's difficult for the reader to do this with the narrator telling them the inside scoop.

The important thing to remember about point of view is that you must always keep faithful to the point of view you choose to use. You will confuse the readers and your writing will be considered immature if you pop in and out of your point of view during your story. Once you commit to a point of view, stay consistent with it and the story will come to life.

No comments: