Thursday, August 28, 2008

One's POV

We’ve already blogged about the theme. That is what your story will be about when you write it. We’ve attempted the plot of your story now lets see what POV is all about.

The point of view in a story is the narrator’s voice that is telling the story. It is whose eyes the reader will be seeing through. Like Alice looking through the looking glass? Mad Hatter couldn’t tell you what Alice saw now could he?

In first person POV we will see through Jane’s eyes. What Jane sees, smells, hears, and especially what Jane thinks. (I think of Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill house.) This is an excellent portrayal of first person POV. But with first person POV, you have limited yourself to only Janes thoughts. The other characters being introduced to the story will only be a mirror of what JANE portrays them to be. Again read the above novel by Shirley Jackson and you’ll get the idea of how paranoid her main character sounds.

Now trouble arrives when you try saying that John heard a noise that sounded like glass shattering. You have now shifted POV’s and this can be a dangerous line to cross when making it clear to the reader that this is Jane’s story and not John’s.

When you’re a beginning writer it is fundamentally important to learn the craft of POV.

Third person POV is the point of view that most authors use. It is much like the first person, except you’ll use, he saw the road crack before them instead of, I saw the road crack. It is essentially using ‘he’ instead of ‘I’.

Now the tricky third person pov is the ever elusive third person omniscient. Though omniscient is on occasion used in the beginning of the story, the writer switches to third person to get a tight grip on the main characters view.

The pov is tricky in writing so if you plan on mastering the craft of writing this would be a helpful tool to practice, read others work, and implement into your own writing. By reading what others have wrote before you, you’ll get the idea of POV and you’ll also recognize WHEN the shifts occur and how to masterfully shift pov yourself.

The exercise I like to practice with most? Say we have a prompt of 500 words (excellent exercises from Pumping Your Muse.) Write the exercise in first person. Try the same story only switch to third person. Write it again in third person omniscient. (I NEVER tackle 2nd person and that is why I won’t touch the subject!)

Show your writing group your different pov’s of your stories. You ARE in a workshop right? After all my blogging about how important it is to surround yourself with other writers? SHAME ON YOU!

Your writing group will be able to help you see the difference, feel the difference and master the different ways to serve the POV to your reader. There isn’t enough room in a 500-word-blog to give you ALL of the details of POV, but trust me on this one. This is one tricky part of the craft to master. But once you have it licked, your writing will soar to new heights like the morning sunrise!

1 comment:

June said...

POV is one are I've studied in depth and you are so right that writers need to explore this element of the craft of writing, Joni.

Working as an editor, this seems to be one area where many writers fumble.

Take care,