Getting to grips with point of view

An Introduction to Point Of View in Creative Writing

Point of view can be thought of like a camera.

Point of view is a key tool for any writer trying to tell a story and, at times, it can be difficult to get right. It’s worth taking a little time to understand and chose which form is best for a story and stay consistent. Our Tuesday evening readings often have lengthy discussions about whether a story has head hopped or confused the reader due to misunderstanding about how to use point of view effectively.

First person

In first person the camera is inside the narrator’s head and her eye’s are the view. Since this is the way we perceive the world every day, it can be the easiest to understand.

Second Person

In second person narrative, the camera switches focus from watching the scene of the story to the reader, speaking to them directly as a part of the story. For example – ‘Dear reader, I hope you are not tired. There will be no sleep for you once you begin this tale.’ Second person is not used often and can be very difficult to make flow smoothly

Third person narrow

In third person narrow, the narrator holds the camera and watches one person. They even have a microphone inside this character’s head to hear and feel everything that character feels, but the narrator can’t see, hear or know anything this character doesn’t directly perceive. Third person narrow can change to a different character, but not quickly. It tends to stay with one character for a chapter or two before moving on to an alternative character.

Third person omniscient

Third person omniscient is the point of view that seems to generate the most discussion and confusion.

In third person omniscient, the camera hovers above the room. It can zoom in and out, it has microphones in everyone’s head and it’s been recording all week, so it knows everything that has ever happened or will ever happen in the future.

This narrator can tell the story from any character at any time, but if the narrator changes which character’s thoughts and actions they are relating too often and without appropriate breaks, it feels strange and jarring. The reader can become confused. If the narrator wants to paint a big picture of the whole room, they would not be able to give close thoughts of every person in the scene.

It’s a form of narration that often lends itself to telling more than showing in the story. Since an omniscient narrator can give lengthy asides and backstory, is more likely to led to dull story telling. Although these same points can be useful for large-scale fantasy epics and historical tales that need a lot of world building.

Practice makes recognizing each point of view easier

A useful exercise is to take a short scene and write it in each of the different points of view as a practice piece.

  • 1st — Three people sat with me around Harold’s Birthday cake. I should have eaten my salad, but cake was so much nicer. Harold mashed his piece with a fork. It was disgusting. There were crumbs all over the tablecloth. I took another bite. Chocolate melted over my tongue, covering it with gooey bliss until I swallowed. Too bad we only had three birthdays a year. I could get used to having cake on Tuesdays.
  • 3rd narrow — Three people sat with Mary eating cake. It was Harold’s birthday, so she left her salad in the refrigerator. She hated the way Harold mashed his cake with a fork. It was disgusting spilling crumbs on the table cloth. She took another bite. Chocolate melted over her tongue, covering it with gooey bliss until she swallowed.
  • 3rdomniscient — Mary, Harold, and Burt sat around a table. It was Harold’s birthday, so he’d brought chocolate cake. He mashed his piece with a fork. Mary grimaced but took a bite, savoring the mouthful of chocolate. Mary would have liked to have cake every Tuesday. Sadly, none of them realized this would be the last birthday cake they would share.

These are not a perfect examples. Part of the fun and usefulness of this exercise is to do it quickly on a very short scene. As the view finder shifts around the scene, think about what things the narrator would know and be able to convey to the reader, and what they would not know.

More point of view exercises can be found on West Lothian Writers at Point of View Exercise, and An Introduction to Point Of View in Creative Writing,

Also, Reedsy has a very good summary of point of view in this blog– Point of View: First, Second, and Third Person POV

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Edge Lit-6 Convention Part 3

Edge Lit-6 Conversation Part 3Over the past few days we’ve been bring you Nadine Little‘s experiences of this year’s Edge Lit-6 Conversation. You can read Part 1 here and you can read Part 2 here. In the final part includes her report of a Samantha Shannon Q&A and two other workshops.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.westlothianwriters.org.uk/edge-lit-6-conversation-part-3/

Edge Lit-6 Convention Part 2

Yesterday we published the first part of Nadine Little’s trip to Edge Lit-6Edge Lit-6 Convention Part 2. Today you can read the second part of her adventure which looks at the first workshop she attended. You can read what happened below the break

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.westlothianwriters.org.uk/edge-lit-6-convention-part-2/

Edge-Lit 6 Convention Part 1

Nadine Little has been back out on her travels and has been visiting Edge-Lit 6 in Derby. So much happened over the day we’ve had to split her report on the day into three parts. You’ll find part 1 below the break.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.westlothianwriters.org.uk/edge-lit-6-convention-part-1/

Writers and Artists How to Get Published Conference Part 2

Writers and Artists How to Get Published Conference Part 2Welcome to the second part of Nadine Little‘s blog about her time at Writers and Artists How to Get Published Conference. You can read part one of the blog here and read the second part below the break. We hope you enjoy!

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.westlothianwriters.org.uk/writers-artists-get-published-conference-part-2/

Writers and Artists How to Get Published Conference Part 1

Writers and Artists How to Get Published Conference Part 1Writers and Artists held in “how to get published” conference in York on 25th of March and our own Nadine Little went along and wrote a blog about her experiences. You’ll find part one below the break with part two being published shortly. We hope you enjoy!

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.westlothianwriters.org.uk/writers-artists-get-published-conference-part-1/

Creative Writing Workshop

Creative Writing WorkshopOn Saturday 13th May 2017 we are holding a morning creative writing workshop led by chair Stephen Shirres. The workshop is ideal for people who are looking to get into writing as well as those with a lot more experience. The day will be spent developing writing ideas from the initial thought to the basis of a poem or story. The aim is that at the end of the session you’ll have, at least, the start of a story or poem if not a first draft. Our venue will be Linlithgow Academy Library. More details, including a full address, can be found below the break. After the session we will be moving to the West Port Hotel to have a late lunch and continue the writing chat.

If you would like to attend this workshop please email us at WLWriters@gmail.com

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.westlothianwriters.org.uk/creative-writing-workshop/

Clout the Cauldron

To celebrate Burns Night, we at West Lothian Writers would like to share with you Clout the Cauldron. Written in the style of Rabbie Burns, this poem by Sue Davies was first read out on BBC Radio Scotland almost twenty years ago on the 25th of January 1997. Click below the break to read Sue‘s work. We hope you enjoy the poem as much as we do.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.westlothianwriters.org.uk/clout-the-cauldron/

The Further From Poetry Slam

 

Ian Macartney will be headlining The Further From Poetry SlamWe have some very exciting news! Our own Ian Macartney will be headlining The Further From Poetry Slam this February alongside poetry greats Liz Lochead, Michael Pedersen, William Letford and Jenni Fagan.
The event is apart of the The Further From Festival taking place in Linlithgow on the 5th and 6th of February. You can find out full details about the show and how to get tickets below the break.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.westlothianwriters.org.uk/1896-2/

1000 Words on Christmas

Every Christmas we ask our members to write 1000 Words on Christmas. Below is the Sue Davies‘ submission for this year’s Christmas meeting.

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