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Monday, July 9, 2007

Point of view

One of the exercises I do with my creative writing classes is to make them take a piece they've written and shift the point of view. For example, you've written a short story in third person limited point of view. You've got a third person - he said, she said - narrator who's in the head of your main character. So now flip it. Narrate in first person. Make your main character the narrator.

What they always discover is that: 1. it changes the story you're telling - changes everything from how it feels to its pacing. and 2. it's not always as easy as it sounds. In the scenario above, for example, that kind of shift would really alter the way many things are described. Going to first person means your narrator now knows only what's in his or her little head. But lots of that sometimes too intrusive writerly stuff (you know - the beautifully crafted paragraphs about how the waves are crashing against the shore, blah, blah, blah) disappears because suddenly it sounds very unnatural coming out of the character's mouth.

We've agonized over this in critique group, too. At least three of us have re-written something - novels, usually - from one point of view to another. Sometimes we like what comes from the change. Sometimes not. Often, we're not sure. Feels like that proverbial crap shoot.

Anyone else out there have point of view stories?

Til next time...

1 comment:

BK said...

I like stories in the POV of the writer. Is that called 1st person POV? I LOVED Angela's Ashes read by the author. I loved Marley and Me...so I like Memoir genre for sure and from their POV.

I don't like alot of quotation marks.I don't like extra descriptive yammerings.