See the World Through Their Eyes

Point of view means you see the world through a particular character’s eyes. But the world is the world, you might say. Here’s a great writing exercise to change your mind. Take a photograph of the natural world, or an urban landscape. Now describe what you see from the perspective of someone whose close relative has just died. Now describe that same scene from the perspective of someone who has just won the lottery. That’s point of view baby! 

Point of View and Third Person

Well point of view is pretty straight forward when writing in first person, because everything is from that character’s point of view, duh. What about third person? Are you getting the narrator’s POV? What if you have an unobtrusive narrator, who is trying to hide and pretend they are just an impartial reporter (they never are). Well often what’s happening in this instance is what the literary critic James Woods calls ‘Free Indirect Discourse’. I’ll let you look it up to get all the smaller details, but as an introduction, this is where the POV of the narrator and the protagonist begin to blend, so that the narrator will suddenly be ‘speaking’ as if they are the protagonist. Enjoy researching this! It’s something fiction writers want to get on top of early. 

Multiple Points of View

Some stories feature multiple points of view! This is relatively easy to do using free indirect discourse, as described above. That technique will allow the narrator character to enter the POV of as many different characters as they like: it’s a handy little trick. Next you’ll be wondering who this narrator character you’ve created is, and how they differ from your own POV. Then you’ll start to wonder if you have a stable POV at all. Then the universe will implode. But before it does, you will consider books like Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying which relates the same events from the first person perspective of a number of different characters! Another option to consider.