Many writers are confused about point of view when they start writing.
Point of view isn’t merely another writing craft technique. Point of view is the foundation upon which great fiction rests.
Marcy Kennedy gives us 7 reasons why mastering point of view is essential:
Reason #1 – Well-executed point of view allows the reader to experience (and participate in) a situation that they could never have been part of, or might never want to be part of, in real life. Consistent and skilled use of POV not only allows us to live vicariously, but also gives us the opportunity to examine ourselves and think about whether we would have made the same choices as the characters. In other words, we become participants in two senses of the word. It engages our emotions and our minds.
Reason #2 – Well-executed point of view builds subtext, as we’re able to contrast what’s happening around the character with what they think about it. We can sort through the difference between reality and perception, the difference between the objective and subjective.
Reason #3 – Well-executed point of view sets each character apart, as we see how they uniquely interpret the world around them. Put another way, point of view is the tool we use to create three-dimensional characters. When we don’t understand point of view and when we don’t execute it correctly, we’re very likely to end up with flat, uninteresting characters. Beyond this, as novelists and short story writers, we have an advantage in that we can give our audience that filtered perspective. They can’t receive that from television or movies or plays.
Reason #4 – Well-executed point of view controls the flow of information to either create suspense or forward the plot. As authors, how we choose to handle POV determines what we must and can’t show to the reader. As readers, it creates the page-turning excitement as we discover things along with the POV character.
Reason #5 – Well-executed point of view encourages showing rather than telling. “Showing” in fiction rather than “telling” is one of the most common pieces of writing advice and also one that a majority of writers struggle to execute. Understanding and writing from a close point of view makes this concept easier because we’re experiencing the story through the eyes of a particular character.
Reason #6 – Well-executed point of view helps us decide what description belongs in the story. Many writers buy into the fallacy that description slows a story down. Description doesn’t slow a story down—bad description or description placed where it doesn’t belong slows a story down. When we write with a clear point of view, we’ll know what details are important to include and when is the appropriate time to include them.
Reason #7 – Well-executed point of view shows us when to include backstory and when to explain details about our world and setting or about the way something works. How much or how little to explain these elements to readers becomes a stumbling block for many writers. When we have a clear POV, we’ll know to include it only when the POV character would naturally be thinking about it or noticing it.
In Saturday's workshop, we will simplify the choice by explaining the advantages and disadvantages of each one and showing you how they work.
We'll do exercises on writing a scene from each point of view to help you understand the difference. You can work on a scene from your story or on an exercise we give you.
Dates: Saturday March 10th
Time: 10am to 3pm
Where: Gondor Writers’ Centre, 19 Caloundra St, Landsborough.