HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR POINT OF VIEW
I want to write a few blogs about the importance of choosing your point-of-view. Perspective is tough whenever we’re writing a story because we need to figure out which of our characters is capable of best telling the story. Some characters’ insights are irrelevant, and some characters are too immediate.
WHHAATTT?? That’s what you probably thought with the irrelevant-immediate talk. Just because your main character enters the bakery every morning does not mean that it’s a good idea to write the story from the bakers POV. He’s irrelevant. Equally, it can sometimes take away from your story if the tale is told from the main character’s POV. In The Godfather, the story-teller is Tom Hagan, the Godfather’s adopted son and family attorney.
So let’s start this off with first-person. First-person is the choice of most beginning writers because of its noted simplicity to write. For me, I actually like writing in third person omniscient, as many of you might have noticed.
First-person has some rules. The narrator is the reader, and everything is experienced by “I.” “I” did this, and “I” did that. This person is the most immediate, and it gives the reader the feeling of being involved in the action. There are so many benefits to first-person. But there are limitations as well. I have edited through some first-person POV stories, and there are things in them that could not have been known by the narrator.
I entered the office. The gust of wind from the door swinging open soared past my face. Standing behind the desk, the culprit clinched Janeece’s throat in the bend of his elbow. His gun made a glaring indention against her forehead. Her heart raced as she panicked. She looked for an escape, but there was none.
What’s wrong with the above description? It seems right, doesn’t it? A casual writer would continue writing as if there was nothing wrong with the above at all. Unfortunately, it’s called being a psychic. First person does not have the benefit of knowing the thoughts of other characters. It has to be done with more subtlety. There’s no way the narrator could know that her heart was racing.
I entered the office. blah, blah, blah. I could see the panic on her face. Her eyes darted around the room as if she were trying to find a weapon.
Notice how the woman’s actions are perceived from the first-person. The narrator witnesses what’s happening and relays that information to the reader as the narrator sees those events unfold. Being responsible with POV is critical for us novelists! And we can do it, because we’re better than that.