I get it! I really get it! For 25 years, I’ve struggled with point of view. At times I thought I had it mastered only to later realise I didn’t know as much as I thought I had. Now, after reading Gabriela Pereira’s blog post on Do-it-yourself Degree in Creative Writing, I finally get it.
Last Point of View Cheat Sheet You’ll Ever Need provides a blow by blow explanation of POV. If you’ve ever questioned your POV, I recommend printing the post and the Cheat Sheet for future reference. From my experience, these lessons need to be reread now and again to refresh the brain. It’s like they get dusty or get mouldy and need cleaning to be remembered.
I’ve written in First Person a few times. That’s the easiest POV for me, but my favourite is Third Person. If you’ve read anything about POV, you know there is more than one classification of Third Person. According to Gabriela, my current project, Shadows in the Stone, is written in Third Person Multiple. That’s where readers get into the heads of more than one character – not in the same scene though. If you bounce from brain to brain while two characters are having a conversation, some of the mystery and suspense is lost. And it can be very confusing for the reader.
Used correctly, Third Person Multiple POV allows the reader to witness the story through the eyes of one character at a time per scene. For example (from Shadows in the Stone):
Movement within the sheep stall woke Anna. In the dim light she saw Isla staring in the direction of Aruam Castle. Anna turned and looked the same way but didn’t see anything unusual.
Isla slipped between the stall rails and entered the dwelling. Anna felt the time for rescue had come because of this wandering. The child couldn’t be kept safe if she strayed from the yard in her absence.
A crash inside the dwelling startled Anna. The once dark interior exploded with light. Still, she couldn’t see the source of the noise.
Here readers know there is something happening inside the dwelling that may threaten Isla’s life, but because Anna doesn’t know, neither do they. If we suddenly jumped into Isla’s head, we’d know the action immediately, eliminating any suspense created by the noise and mysterious light.
If you’ve ever had doubts while writing Point of View, visit Gabriela’s Do-it-yourself Degree blog. If you sign up to follow her posts, you get a free copy of Jumper Cables – Kick-start Your Writing Life.