Three Tips For Handling Of Point Of View

Whether you choose first person or one of the variants of third person, keeping the following points in mind will help you handle point of view effectively:

• Be consistent. Once you choose a viewpoint character for a scene, stick with that person. An inadvertent shift in the point of view can weaken the impact.

When you place your readers inside a character's head, be sure that what we see, hear, feel, and think is what the character can see, hear, feel, and think. The viewpoint character generally can't see the expression on her own face, or read another person's mind, so readers can't either.

• Keep the character in character. A character's inner mono-logue—his expression of his thoughts—should echo the tone, attitude, and vocabulary that he uses when speaking out loud. When he draws the readers' attention to something, it should be the kind of detail that he would be expected to notice, given the person he is. Walking into a restaurant, an artist's eye might be drawn first to the color scheme or the paintings on the walls; his companion, the society queen, focuses on spotting the important people present. Mary is impressed with the lobster aux epinards, but Albert wishes he could trade in all this frou-frou food for a decent plate of fried clams. Gloria, on the other hand, hardly notices the food, the decor, or the other diners; she's too busy fretting about whether she has enough cash in her wallet to pay for her dinner.

• When in doubt, try a different point of view. Just as your choice of protagonist isn't always obvious, neither is your choice of point of view. If you are having trouble writing a story, experiment with the point of view. Shifting from third person to first can give you deeper insight into your protagonist or narrator, while switching from first to third can open up a story and provide greater opportunities to bring various characters into play.

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