Part 2: Point of View

Choosing what point of view (POV) from which you’ll write your story can be a tough choice. There are different reasons for choosing first person and third person POV.  I have been immersed mostly in fiction, specifically science fiction and fantasy, and I rarely if ever see stories written from the first person perspective. I can understand the probable reason behind this: first person POV can be very limiting; and tricky.

My feelings toward first person POV didn’t change when we began role-playing.  Role-playing is technically done in third person as it is easiest to determine who is talking/acting and to whom they are talking/acting.  The exception is, of course, if your character is in thought or speaking of themselves.  However, there is a feeling of first person POV because your character can only interact with that which has been said and/or done by another character. Thus, you must refer to your character in third person but always be acting as in first person POV.

I find a strong similarity in my novel-writing. The In-Between originally began as a first person POV. I quickly adapted it when I re-edited and re-imagined the story. First person was limiting and it was not fitting. It can be difficult to convey to the reader how different characters interact because you are only limited by one character’s perspective, as with role-playing. This is not to say you can have a character know exactly what another is going to do or think (unless in which they have such powers). Third person POV is more essential when it comes to wanting to convey various characters’ attitudes, behaviors and actions. It provides a diversity and movement of the story that cannot be achieved through first person. As with role-playing, your characters still can only interact according to the actions and behaviors delivered by others; and, as if you have other role-players pulling the strings of your other characters, you can shift the story to their thoughts and actions.

Despite its difficulties, first person POV has its purposes. It can be used to convey more mystery. Due to its limitations, though, we can only learn the story through one character’s eyes. We cannot possibly know what the antagonist may be thinking or plotting. We must wait until a catalyst has caused any interaction between the main character and antagonist. Thus, there exists some suspense and anticipation that may not be as strongly demonstrated through third person POV.  First person can also bring the reader (and writer) closer to the main character. You are, after all, being told by the writer to use the pronoun “I” and “me” while reading, ergo you are practically commanded to feel exactly as the main character does. This is no doubt a powerful, often emotional tool to force the reader into the character’s shoes. Whatever your preference may be, POV serves an important purpose in any type of storytelling. Keeping it consistent, however, is another matter entirely.

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Stay tuned for the next installment: Action Scenes! *cue the oooohs and aaahhhs*

 

Seeing Perfection Through Rose Glasses

In our fast culture of now, now, now and our expectations that perfection is just an eye wink away, we have come to believe art can be created overnight. We don’t realize the endless exercise of revision. We limit ourselves by thinking perfection can be achieved. If we achieve perfection, then what is left for our imagination?

The Mona Lisa was created through revision, precise strokes and an analytical eye. Mozart’s “The Requiem” was meticulously composed through many errors until it was produced; and still, it is being perfected. “Hamlet” was written and re-written to the point we wouldn’t be able to tell what the original chicken scratch was to become. But, you say, these are old pieces. Modern art can’t possibly take that long. It must be finished in a day! Our entertainment society masks all the hard work that is put into music production, publishing and art displays. Creativity is treated as if it’s at everyone’s beck and call; but too often, too few get credit. Behind the scenes, there are many minds at work searching for flaws, for the hard edge that needs to be sanded down, for the fine tuning of a minute detail (or so I hope, but I doubt this about pop culture). We often see the end product and don’t consider its production. A heavy accusation is given to consumerism wherein we have a lack of appreciation of the work that it takes to make one sleeve of clothing (if you have ever tried to knit and/or sew, you know at least part of what it takes). Thus, our appreciation for creativity has also declined.

Our concept of perfection does not include work. That is not to say day dreaming has nothing to do with creativity. Please, by all means, be day dreamers! Look away from the computer, go for a walk, smell the crispness of snow, be charmed by the glow of a sunset. Which reminds me, would it kill anyone to make a sassy computer that talks back to you and tells you to get off your seat for five minutes every hour? “Blimey, you bloke, you been sittin’ on your arse for nigh on an hour and naught but Cheetos on y’a fingers!” After all, our greatest achievements in science were birthed by people who had time to day dream and wonder. Or perhaps, better yet, such a device could be programmed on people’s phones…Ah well, that’s probably a topic for another day.

Right, now, where was I? But, once you have harnessed that creativity, feed it. Give the river a place to flow. Provide boundaries. Then, tear them down and re-create them. See the raw beauty of a draft and mold it.  You cannot expect your creativity to just sit there and unfold into brilliance. Thoughts and ideas are chaotic. They come and go as they please unless properly leashed. Yes, perhaps you heard someone at one point say they wrote only one or two drafts of a book. I laugh in their face. Perhaps that is good enough for them, but for me? I don’t believe anyone’s best work is completed in one, or even two, drafts. And I don’t believe in perfection. I believe in giving a story life. That is to say, it should have a beginning, a middle and an end. It should sparkle with the personality of its inhabitants and follow the guidelines that were constructed. If it has done a proper job of conveying my thoughts in the least convoluted way imaginable, then I will consider it finalized (not, dear people, to be confused with perfection). It should not, however, ever pursue such a codswallop of a thing as “perfect.”

Fellow artists, when are you satisfied? How do you arrive at that satisfaction? After the final product, do you find more items to scrutinize?

 

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