Sunday 23 March 2014

Point of View - what is it and how do you decide

Do what feels right
It was my turn to do #GEAQA last week. Always an intense half an hour on Twitter that gets the old brain cells working. Those old 'Eggers' certainly can ask some interesting and thought provoking questions. We were talking about 'point of view' - a subject which can always cause quite heated debate as people have very personal opinions about it.

Point of View is so much more than just grammar as in what pronoun you use - 'I', 'he', 'she' or 'it'. It is about bias, what perspective your story is being told from and how your reader can expect to experience the story.

This is how I understand they work:

First person: This is where the 'I' is the narrator, they are part of the action and embedded within the story. Everything we learn about the story is from their experience and their perspective alone. It can come across as quite chatty and colloquial. It is very intimate.

Second Person: This is quite difficult to maintain and therefore quite rare. Often found in role-playing game books allowing the reader to be part of it. All the time you are writing you are addressing an implied familiar reader.

Then there is Third Person, the over-arching voice, which has its own variations.

Unlimited or Omniscient: This allows for multiple perspectives and revealing the subjectivity of more than one character. The ability to know everything that everyone is doing and everywhere. Often something used in adult fiction. When you do use it, it is important to make sure you are giving the reader plenty of clues as to which character is speaking or doing or thinking at that particular moment. Multiple viewpoints can be used effectively in alternating chapters for example.

Limited: This is where you write from the point of view from a single person's point of view. It is like sitting on there shoulder, almost a camera. You can see what they are seeing and can get in their heads to a certain extent but it is not as close as first person or as informal.

Confession: Third person limited is my POV of choice.

People often ask me what POV they should write their story in. My honest answer is to say what comes naturally to you. What you feel most comfortable doing. But also what fits with the voice of your characters. I have before now rewritten whole manuscripts from third to first and then back again trying to make sure I found the POV that worked the best. And I know I am not the only one to have done that.  It is a good writing exercise for a start!

Again, as with so many other things connected with writing it is comes down to gut feeling. Do what feels right.

When you get feedback, if one person doesn't like the point of view, listen but don't necessarily change.  If, however, you are getting repeated comments about it, saying it is not working, then it is definitely time to look at it again.

Now off for a bit of sound track history.  When I was child, there was no daytime TV except during the summer holidays there would be occasional morning programmes such as Banana Splits, Belle and Sebastian, Robinson Crusoe, Why Don't You..., the Monkees and White Horses. I loved that last programme in particualr and often re-enacted it. The irony is not lost on me that my current WIP which I am loving so much is based on white horses. So here is the theme music, it reminds of those very happy times and one of my sisters who I also know has fond memories of that time too. For you Jacky xx

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