A few questions to get us thinking about this topic:
(1) How do you select your point of view (including number of viewpoints, gender, age)?
(2) Do you find it easier to write from the P.O.V. of someone broadly aligned with yourself (in terms of gender, background, etc) or someone quite different from you?
(3) Have you ever started writing a story and then realised that it would be better told, or more easily written, from an alternative point of view? In this case, do you rewrite the story, abandon it, add an extra major character... ?
(4) How carefully do you monitor your character's knowledge? By this I mean - if there is something that is integral to the story but that your character wouldn't know, how do you get around it?
If you like, you might want to give examples not only from your own writing, but also from books you have read.
November 5th, 2002, 09:39 PM
Wow! Great question!
I'm not sure how I choose. I get a story idea -- usually centered around a character (I tend to think in terms of characters rather than plots) and I write. If I feel the need for a POV shift, I tend to add other characters -- particularly if the main character needs to reveal something to the reader but can't do it themselves. The other characters can offer that perspective -- something outside of the character.
The most interesting exercise in POV I ever did was a story called "Tools of the Trade" that was written in 2nd person -- the narration referring to the main character as "you" through the whole story. It worked because the narrator was an older version of the main character reflecting on a traumatic childhood experience. It got me a little boggled during the writing, but it turned out pretty cool.:)
Most of my characters are semi-autobiographical -- or at least they draw heavily upon my own emotional/psychological experience. I've tried to step outside of that as much as possible, but the characters just end up sounding a little flat.
November 6th, 2002, 12:27 AM
In my novel I write last year, I have about twelve main characters, not including the main enemy. Some of them get left behind part the way through, but are joined by more. I give most of them a point of view. Choosing the right POV is a bit of intuition, a bit of balancing. Some people would hate my novel because there are too many characters, but its a long novel, and I try to focus on the characters who need the attention and can best portray the scenes. One character stole the limelight a bit, but he acted as a sort of leader, so it was to be expected. The enemy's POV was always good to write.
I can write any character I need to.
I'm always happy with my POVs and characters.
I memorised what characters knew. Any inconsistencies, I ironed out later in the full second edit, though hardly any of them were to do with character knowledge.
November 6th, 2002, 01:04 AM
I haven't got time this morning to give a detailed an answer as I would like, so will get back to this tonight (hopefully *sigh*)
It is the sort of question I love to answer.:D
November 6th, 2002, 11:30 AM
Most of the writing I have done has been in 3rd person POV, but slightly "set back" if that makes sense, looking at a scen form one character's POV but not completely in their head all the time. I used their feelings and thoughts on the scene sparingly, so as not to over use the character.
My last major work I used aobut 7 or 8 characters' POV, switching from one to another as the story demanded. One character I made a conscious decision not to write any section from his POV. I didn't want the reader inside his head at all. I wante dthe reader to judge the character by his actions and the rest of the characters feelings and opinions about him. I think it worked.
In fact I was "more in the head" of the character I didn't use the POV of than any of the others. "Albert" for awhile became my constant companion. He was is a way the "puppet master" in the story moving the characters in the way he wanted them to go. Very much like me as the writer.
I sometime have trouble with "lighter" characters i.e. I don't do untroubled heros or winsome maidens very well. My characters tend to be loaded with troubles and angst.
I have managed to create quite good, male and female characters, children are a bit harder though. I have used my memories of my own offspring's reaction to things as a base for some I have used. (also working in a high school for a while helped me with teenagers)
I am not that conceited to believe my characterisations are perfect. They work I believe and hopefully catch the reader's eye
Some scenes I have written from the POV of various characters then choosen the one that seemed to work the best.
I have recently changed a whole piece I am working on from 3rd POV to 1st... It works and I am quite pleased with it. The peice has been undergoing a metamorphous. It has changed from a "cross over story" to a urban horror/fantasy. Though I might finish the first version. Time at the moment is my enemy. I have so little of it for working and even this time I am taking to write this post, is being snatched from my small time on the machine. *sigh*
A small bad example on my efforts... just a paragraph.... written in 1st person.
I wake sticky-eyed. In my sleep I had curled into a ball on my left side, my arm, numb, aching deep into the pit and across my chest. But my head is clear and drives me from my stained, rumbled sheets. My hand fumbles out for the packet of cigarettes on the bedside table and I light one, drawing in the smoke. Then I stub it out cursing. “Damn it, don’t you ever learn?”
Stripping off my layer of clothes I walk into the bathroom. The day is well advanced. I can hear the rumble of traffic in the street below, the city’s arteries working as sluggishly as mine.