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Brandi_R
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Topic 10: Point of View

When writing prose, you have quite a range of choices in point of view. You can tell the story in first person, where a character in the story narrates using “I.” Or you can use third, where a narrator who isn’t a character in the story tells the story using “he” and “she.” Within third person, you have choices—you can get into many character’s minds or just one. There are also a slew of less common choices, like second person (where the main character is referred to as “you”) or first person plural where a group of people tell the story using “we.” With all these options, how do you choose which point of view strategy to use for any given story?
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APenForYourThoughts
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Re: Topic 10: Point of View

I think it really depends on what kind of feel you want to give to your story. I typically write in third person just because I like to be able to get inside the minds of many different characters if I want to do so, and I kind of like the idea of there being a fond distance between the writer and the subject. I don't know if that makes sense, but it's kind of like you're looking at someone you love from afar and describing him or her with all the love you feel for him/her in your heart. If you write in first person, I think it gives your piece a bit more of a thought-process-like tone. I've never tried to write in second person or first person plural, so I don't really know about those choices. But I think that in choosing which point of view to use you have to consider whether you want your story to feel more like a casual conversation (first person or, I would imagine, second person) or more like that detached attachment (third person).
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marcialou
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Re: Topic 10: Point of View

Point of view usually comes to me without being consciously chosen. When I look back at my writing I see that most often I use the first person. Perhaps that's because most of my stories are fictionalized accounts of things I've experienced or observed. Another time I used first person is in a kiss and tell retelling of a Bible story from the point of view of a minor character. I think the genre demands the first person.

Two stories I wrote in the third person are one in which the central character was based on my husband; and the other, in which the character and events are pure fiction, based on no one I know. I've also started another story that is loosely based on an experience in my family - this time third person came to me. I think it's because the "me" character is not so important as her father and her daughter and I don't want their experiences filtered through the "me" character's eyes.

Marcia
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Krisleyyy
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Re: Topic 10: Point of View

In most stories I like to stick to the 3rd person point of view for the simple fact that there is more to tell. I like to create characters to full extent. Everyone has a say in my stories. When I am doing such more personal stories I stick to 1st person, it makes it easier for their side of the story. Only when I want both sides do I ever use 3rd person. 2nd person isn't in my nature, I can't tell someone else what they did in a story....it doesn't make sense to me (:
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crAZRick
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Re: Topic 10: Point of View

It's basically a matter of scope and theme that should and often does dictate the POV of a particular story. If the scope of the story encompasses one character, or a specific and relatively short span of time, or if the theme regards specific character achieving specific goals within the frame of the story, or regards a small percentage of folk rather than a 'universal' all-encompassing theme, then it may be best to go with first person, and stick with that character/narrator for the duration.

If you're writing a grand epic that spans several generations over decades, the rise and fall of civilizations, or even the history of a single bloodline, you may want to do third person, and get into the heads and hearts of several key characters over the course of the timespan laid out in the epic.

Thematically, love stories or buddy-stories can be told either 1st or 3rd person, but probably become more intimate and engaging from 1st person POV rather than 3rd. Sweeping war epics, westerns, etc stories involving whole families rather than select individual members best go with 3rd person...

it's not an exact science; I'm sure many writers have the stuff to make any POV work in any scope or theme. Just a matter of knowing the rules before you attempt to bend or break 'em, I guess. Experimentation is always a viable option; just write from your head, heart, or gut, however you normally do it; if you hit upon one or more stumbling blocks trying to tell the tale in its best and brightest form, try switching POV... once you find the POV that offers the least resistance vs the best rewards for your effort, you'll have to go back and revise the parts that don't match that 'best' POV for your story. Whatever you do, don't try to combine POVs!!! That might seem unique, but all you'll do is confuse and jolt your readers from the moments you are trying to capture and enslave them into... find the best POV to tell your tale, and revise the thing to that single POV throughout!
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Brandi_R
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Re: Topic 10: Point of View



APenForYourThoughts wrote:
I think it really depends on what kind of feel you want to give to your story. I typically write in third person just because I like to be able to get inside the minds of many different characters if I want to do so, and I kind of like the idea of there being a fond distance between the writer and the subject. I don't know if that makes sense, but it's kind of like you're looking at someone you love from afar and describing him or her with all the love you feel for him/her in your heart. . .




What an interesting way to think of third person. Certainly, with such a narrator you can direct how the reader interprets the character by where you point your lens, so to speak. By focusing on certain aspects, you can reveal them as dominant. Your post makes me think of Annie Proulx’s Quoyle in The Shipping News--he’s always covering his large chin in moments of insecurity or vulnerability. Or Nelson Algren’s attention to the descriptions of the Chicago El in The Man With the Golden Arm, and the way that paints Zosh and Frankie’s apartment as so desolate and lonely—emotions both characters are coping with in very different ways.
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Brandi_R
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Re: Topic 10: Point of View



marcialou wrote:
Point of view usually comes to me without being consciously chosen. When I look back at my writing I see that most often I use the first person. Perhaps that's because most of my stories are fictionalized accounts of things I've experienced or observed. Another time I used first person is in a kiss and tell retelling of a Bible story from the point of view of a minor character. I think the genre demands the first person.

Two stories I wrote in the third person are one in which the central character was based on my husband; and the other, in which the character and events are pure fiction, based on no one I know. I've also started another story that is loosely based on an experience in my family - this time third person came to me. I think it's because the "me" character is not so important as her father and her daughter and I don't want their experiences filtered through the "me" character's eyes.

Marcia




Interesting that point of view choices stem from your own relationship to the events in the story. I could see where first might come more naturally to those moments that you feel closest to—your own experience. It might be interesting to see what happens if you change that up—write in third for a very close experience, or write in first for something less close. It might bring another dynamic to the story or your writing process. Could be an interesting writing experiment.
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Brandi_R
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Re: Topic 10: Point of View



Krisleyyy wrote:
When I am doing such more personal stories I stick to 1st person, it makes it easier for their side of the story. Only when I want both sides do I ever use 3rd person.




Yes, how much ground you need to cover is such an important aspect of this issue of point of view. The larger the scope—a family’s story, a town’s story—the more perspectives it may need. The more narrow—the story of how an event impacted on person—the more appropriate first, or third limited may be. We don’t always know exactly what story we’re trying to tell going into the writing, but it’s an important aspect to figure out during the writing process.
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Brandi_R
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Re: Topic 10: Point of View


crAZRick wrote:
. . . Whatever you do, don't try to combine POVs!!! That might seem unique, but all you'll do is confuse and jolt your readers from the moments you are trying to capture and enslave them into... find the best POV to tell your tale, and revise the thing to that single POV throughout!




Excellent point. Finding out what works for the story as a whole—rather than in parts--is important. Going from first to third party way through—without a compelling reason to do so—can feel very arbitrary and make the reader lose trust in the text.
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marcialou
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Re: Topic 10: Point of View

The Seven Sister by Margaret Drabble changes point of view in four separate sections of the book and it works quite well. She goes from 1st person to 3rd person present tense to first person (by a second character) and back to first person (by the first character.)

William Faulkner also changes narrator and POV it in The Sound and the Fury. (I never read it but a quick search confirms my memory of what I was told.)

Perhaps POV changing is something to be left to trained professionals. Don't try this at home, kids.

Marcia