Friday, February 04, 2011

It's All Perspective

by. G.Parker

Point of view in writing is a crucial element of a story.  If you are telling something from the guy's point of view, hopefully you have the proper perspective and the reader is getting that impression.  Otherwise, they're going to shake their heads and toss the book.  Nothing annoys readers more, and that includes me.  I'm always fascinated by an author who can so easily tell a story from the opposite sex's point of view and sell it to me.  There are a couple of authors that can do this, but my memory being what it is, I can't remember who they are.  I'm sure you have an author that you have really enjoyed how they were able to aptly describe a characters thoughts and emotions.

However, along with that, you need to know something about what you're writing.  If you are describing how your character has just crashed on a ski run or a snowboard, you need to be able to describe it so that the reader can relate.  If they have never done it, they'll accept what you write.  If they do it every year, they'll be sure to notice if you haven't gotten it right.  If you describe a woman sewing (I know, totally gender specific here) and have her sewing with a needle and thread, are you describing the needle?  No one needs that kind of description.  But if you're having her use a sewing machine, and the stitches gather, aptly describing her frustration is part of the readers expectation.  If they can say, "oh man, been there, done that!" they'll more closely relate to the character and the story.

Sometimes you can get away with things because of the lack of reader knowledge, but you can't count on that.  I wrote a short story once involving a prison escapee.  I have worked in the correctional department for my state, but I haven't been a prison guard.  I've been in the prison, and talked to probation and parole officers.  I've also seen enough movies that have prisons in them to be able to describe scenes that most people would accept, simply because we've all seen many of the same movies.  I had a reader ask me if I'd actually worked at a prison because it seemed very realistic.  It was a proud moment for me...grin.

So be sure you do your research and know what perspective you are trying to do.  Who's side are you telling?  Where are you at?  It will make your story that much better for the knowledge.

1 comment:

Steve Westover said...

Good post. I sometimes struggle with point of view- more specifically, head hopping. I'm learning to spot it naturally and I definitely edit for POV.