Points of view

Admin User Exercises, Tools & Tips

• Authors once acted as story overseers, choosing to withhold or reveal any character’s thoughts, as well as telling readers the truth as they saw it.

In modern fiction, this is usually avoided, because it denies the readers the opportunity to decide for themselves.

So you might two characters who will have different points of view and cannot reveal anything that only the other might know.

Elmore Leonard, one of America’s leading writers of crime thrillers, comments: ‘… I write in scenes and always from the point of a view of a particular character, the one whose view best brings the scene to life … I’m nowhere in sight’.

• In taking a point of view, you will write either:

– in the first person

– in the third person for one or more characters

– less commonly, as ‘you’ or ‘we’

– or more ambitiously is the ‘third person omniscient’, in which the writing moves in and out of different character’s points of view

Exercise

Take an incident, such as a grannie crashing a car through a supermarket window, then everyone describe it from different points of view.

Source: The five-minute writer, How to Books, 2011 + How to write, The Guardian, 2009