Unusual Points of View
Most writers are familiar with first and third points of view and their variations. But have you ever experimented with alternative points of view? Below are some less used points of view, what I call "unusual points of view." Try using these when you're blocked or you want to try something new.
Second Person Point of View
Second person can be written as "you" singular or plural. Josip Novakovich in FICTION WRITER'S WORKSHOP says: "The author makes believe he's talking to someone, describing what the person addressed is doing. But the 'you' is not the reader, though sometimes it's hard to get rid of the impression the author is addressing you directly."
Here's an excerpt from Italo Calvino's first chapter of If on a winter night a traveler. I think it's one of the most engaging examples of second person point of view. But if the author is not speaking to the reader?then to whom? You be the judge.
You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel ever other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room. Tell others right away, "No, I don't want to watch TV!" Raise your voice-they won't hear you otherwise-"I'm reading! I don't want to be disturbed!" . . . So here you are now, ready to attack the first lines of the first page. You prepare to recognize the unmistakable tone of the author . . .
Most stories told in second person are written in the present tense, so the reader identifies directly with the character. You're along for the journey, being an active part of the story. I read this excerpt feeling as if the author sees me and is talking directly to me.
Like other points of view, second person has its pitfalls. One of them is keeping the reader's attention through the whole story (in this example, an entire novel). Some readers don't like to be told what they're thinking and doing and saying. Sometimes this point of view has a tendency to sound too journalistic or like a recipe.
First Person Collective Observer Point of View (or third person plural)
In this point of view the reader follows the motions and acts of one person through a group's viewpoint. Usually, someone in the group acts as narrator but doesn't have his/her own identity. Usually this is reserved for small town narratives, where an individual lives under communal scrutiny. Schools, towns, churches, or families focus on a secret person in conflict with the community. In William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" Emily is the character scrutinized by the residents of Yoknapatawpha County.
Here is an excerpt from the story which occurs after she is put in the ground and what "we" discover.
For a long while we just stood there, looking at the profound and fleshless grin. The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long deep sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him . . . Then we noticed that in the second pillow was an indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, leaning forward, that fast and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair.
Third Person Plural Observer ("They")
Here the perceptions of a critical situation comes from a group of characters who watch the protagonist. It could be a group of boys watching a teenage girl undressing in her window as in: "They saw her in the window." The excerpt from "A Rose for Emily" might as easily be written in the point of view.
First and Second Combined
This point of view is usually used in love poetry, and rarely in fiction. In this example from "The Roaring Bull and Electra," a short story, it's an adult daughter speaking to her father too ill to speak for himself.
Today the new Roaring Bull was christened, and I wanted you to be next to me as you had been, twenty years ago . . . Now you can't speak. You can barely swallow. I used to feed you melted ice cream and stroke your throat to get it down because I thought the taste would remind you of our ferry rides . . .
First and Third Combined
This point of view is used for characters with a personality dichotomy, to look at the same character from different angles. In "Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story" Russell Banks does this to portray a narcissistic man's affair with a homely woman.
I felt warmed by her presence and was flirtatious and bold, a little pushy even.
Picture this. The man, tanned, limber . . . enters the apartment behind the woman.
The switch to third person is the character taking a look at himself, the way one might want to see himself projected onscreen. The shift in point of view might be annoying to the reader, so it's important to establish this shift pattern early in your story.
Try this exercise:
Choose one of your favorite stories and rewrite a scene from it in one of the "unusual points of view." You might want to try rewriting one of the excerpts above. In your exercise show the original passage, then your changed point of view (or points of view). You get extra brownie points if you write a scene from scratch. This is a challenging exercise, but it also shows you don't have to be limited by variations of first and third person.
Let go, breathe deep, and have fun with it!
(c) 2004 Rita Marie Keller
About The Author
Rita Marie Keller has written and published numerous stories, articles, and essays. Her first novel, Living in the City, was released September 2002 by Booklocker.com, Inc. She founded the Cacoethes Scribendi Creative Writing Workshop (www.cacoethes-scribendi.com) in 1999.
Advertising by textad.biz
Go Ahead, click an ad, you know you want to.
How To Write Cover Letters That Work
Sometimes there is confusion about the exact meaning of the term "cover letter".That's because when most people use that term, they don't realize that there are two main types of cover letters.
Writing Helpful Help - A Minimalism Checklist
User documentation is all too often written by programmers for programmers. It tends to focus on the product's features, rather than the user's tasks.
Conflict - How To Keep Your Readers Turning Pages
Some writers are just too kind.They hate to put their characters under any kind of pressure.
A New Way To Self Publish
More and more good authors are turning to the Internet to self publish. There are several reasons for that.
Proof Positive: the importance of proofreading
Last week I was having a quick browse on eBay when something caught my eye. "Black patient shoes!" screamed the headline.
Through the Eyes of an Artist
As writers, we initially tend to be either more cerebral or emotional than perceptive. Its occurs to me that writers are driven to express what they actually haven't figured out how to say verbally, but long to say somehow.
Freelance Writing: A Career From Anywhere
An island in the Mediterranean. A beach in Africa.
Writers Block - Melting the Ice
What does one do as a writer who loves writing and feels empty of creativity?When the writing process stops, there is the experience of fear. There is a sense that something precious has been lost.
Write Again! - The Art Of The Written Letter
Remember the days when we wrote with pen and paper? We took time and thought into each note written. There wasn't email, text messaging, cell phones, or instant messaging.
New Authors Publishing Options
All your publishing options are as follows:--Conventional publishing--Vanity or subsidy publishing--Print-on-demand publishing--Self-publish yourself--Get help with self-publishingLet's compare the publishing options.How to get in the publishing process and how long will it take to see your book printed?Conventional publishing optionIt is a very long and difficult process to get a publisher even if it is at all possible for a new author.
How to Have an Effective Writing Group
The works you've written are numerous, ranging from short stories to even the novel, hidden in a storage bin (under the bed) collecting dust. But there comes a time when you must wipe away that dust, regain your pride, and prepare your babies for publication! But, how do you get such a critical, unbiased eye to analyze your works, offering both praise and criticism?It's simple-start a writing group!Creating a writing group is the easy part, but creating a functioning and beneficial writing group can be quite a task.
Sometime one must coax the words out.Each day is a struggle to sit before the computer and produce-produce words that are appropriate, produce sentences that are logical, produce paragraphs that are focused, and produce a page that is relevant to the project-whether it is a poem, a short story, an article, an essay, or part of a novel.
That Cute Lil Ol Apostrophe
Have you ever had a student write to tell you they've achieved Grade A's at exams? I have, and one of them was a grade A in English!The apostrophe seems to be the most misunderstood punctuation mark in the English language, and yet its use is really very simple.There's really only one rule: an apostrophe is used to replace one or more missing letters.
Save Time When You Write
I'm in the process of moving from one computer to another, and one of the things I really miss so far is a good keystroke macro program.That's a program, a communication technology, that allows you to trigger long strings of text, including names and email addresses, with just a couple of keystrokes.
A Writers Tools
If you are like most writers, you're constantly searching for tips on technique that will help you to increase your chances of publication. You eagerly pounce on articles that tell you how to plot better, write better and sell better.
Have You Tested Your Plot?
Creative Writing Tips -Our plotting stage is our testing area.Everything in the plot should be tested for its effectiveness before we put in into our stories.
Does The Title Reflect The Story?
Short Story Writing Tips -We all have different tastes in what we like to read. Some have a particular taste for horror, while others prefer romance or fantasy or crime stories, etc.
On Writing and Poetry: Harry Calhoun in Conversation
"This is just brilliant. The whole interview is incredible? I'm? REALLY appreciative of some seriously good advice from a fellow writer.
Writing For the Joy of It
As a child, I loved to write. I can't remember ever not writing.
Resignation Letters: Dont Let Yours Backfire On You...
It turns out that "tips and templates on how to write resignation letters" is the third most sought-after information at my Writing Help Central Web site.So, when I looked into the subject more closely, I was surprised to find that there is not a lot of guidance available in guide book form on how to write a proper and appropriate resignation letter.
|home | site map|