More on point of view

Staying in a character's head also makes your character inconsistent if the thoughts are not in line with what he/she says or does. And if it is in line, then why have to tell thoughts when the words/actions will speak for them? That isn't to say don't get into thoughts at all, but don't do it exclusively.

When you do have your characters' thoughts, make sure they think differently from each other. Don't write the same way for every one and have them react the same or they appear to be cardboard cutouts.

A word on 2d person. It has been used but is difficult to work with. 2d person is using "you" or "we" in telling the story. This has an advantage in that it can bring the reader into the story more intimately, in fact, making the reader part of the story in the role of participant or close observer. There are occasions where the author might address the reader using 2d person.

TEST. What point of view is this book in?

ANSWER: 2d person. Why did I choose that point of view? Because I wanted you to be involved when you read it. I wanted you the reader to feel that I was talking directly to you.

Overall, though, 2d person rarely works in a novel.

How about mixing the various points of views in the same novel? Can it be done?

Remember my premise: there is no wrong way. Yes, it can be done. A certain fellow named William Faulkner did an OK job of it in a novel called The Sound And The Fury. The first three sections of that book were first person (indeed, three different first persons). The last third person. You can do anything that works. It certainly worked for Faulkner, but remember: SMOOTHNESS.

I just finished rereading The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurty and in the forward he presented an interesting angle on point of view. He said that on occasion he has written a story in first person and then rewritten it in third. I've tried it and it's not as hard as you would think.

When you watch TV or film, start paying very close attention how the director filmed the scene. Think about something as simple as two people sitting in a booth at a restaurant. Does the director film it from the side, showing both people? Or does the camera shift back and forth from one side of the table to the other? And if it does, when do the shifts take place? Does the director want to show the person speaking or the person listening and reacting to the other's words?

Do you see how many different ways a scene can be filmed? You, as the author, can write the same scene many different ways.

Please don't think from all that I have written above that it is wrong to get in your characters' heads. If you go into the bookstore today and pull the top ten fiction novels off the shelf, I think more than half would have varying degrees of insight into the characters' thoughts and feelings. The key is to do it right. I have beaten this point to death because I have found this area to be the number one style problem for new writers. I think as long as you are aware of it and use the tool properly, you will be all right.

Remember: consistency and smoothness.

The most important thing about any point of view you use is that the reader knows where the 'camera' is.

0 0

Post a comment