Point of View for Creative Fiction Writing Help
Point of View for Creative Fiction Writing
Who is telling the story you are writing? It's an important choice because it dictates what kind of information the narrator knows, and it reveals the window through which you must tell your story to your readers.
Will your story be told in the first person? For instance,
I had a little lamb who followed me to school one day. I didn't have time to take my lamb back home. I thought I could just tie him up between the hedges until recess. Most of the other kids tried to help me keep it a secret from the teachers, but I knew that if Jack Pratt found out, he would try to get me in trouble.
Perhaps you'll tell it in the second person.
You have a little lamb who followed you to school. You think to tie the lamb up between the hedges until you can take it back home at recess. You see your classmate Jack Pratt sizing things up. You know he's going to make trouble.
Or maybe you will tell the story in the third-person limited where the narrator can tell the story only through one character's eyes.
Mary had a little lamb who followed her to school one day. Embarrassed, she tried to hide the lamb between the hedges, but the smirk on Jack's face told her that her secret wasn't going to stay secret for long.
There's another choice. You can tell the story in the third-person omniscient. This way, the narrator can see from more than one character's point of view.
The day that Mary's lamb came to school is a day that everyone in town remembers clearly, but with very different opinions on the matter. For Mary, the incident has always been a source of great embarrassment. She maintains that she had no knowledge that the lamb was following her, but only her mother and her teacher believe her to be innocent.
You can also choose to tell the story in multiple points of view. In section one, you can tell the event as Mary sees it through a third-person limited narrator, in another section the way the lamb sees it, and in a third, the way Jack sees things.
Chapter One: "It was amazing to discover my lamb had followed me to school," Mary told her classmates, "I know that if my lamb could talk she'd say how much she wants to learn to read and write. She'd ... "
Chapter Two: Truth be told, I was just kind of on autopilot. I wasn't really thinking about it. I regretted following her as soon as I saw the door to the brick building. I didn't want to go inside. I didn't...
Chapter Three: The day that Mary's lamb came to school I was already in trouble with my dad. He was missing three dollars from his wallet and he figured I'd taken them. He told me that he'd punish me in the evening when he came home from work. I needed something special for myself, something to make me feel better, and getting Mary in trouble seemed like the perfect thing...
If you've done the preceding exercises, you have already adopted a point of view. It really isn't possible to write without one. However, understanding more about the choices you have in points of view and experimenting with them will lead to understanding which of them will ultimately provide the most opportunity for you in developing your story. And it will help you remain consistent in writing from the point of view you choose. Even if you are convinced that you want to write in the first person, doing a variety of point of view exercises can help you realize more about your characters.
If you are writing personal essays or memoir, experimenting with various points of view in exercises will help you realize more about your situations and your perceptions and you can then figure out how to best evoke them by using the point of view you have adopted. Also, although in memoir we expect the "I" to tell the story, we can accomplish interesting results employing second or third person.
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