Second Eyes Editorial

Stop, look, and listen

Stop, look, and listen

Point Of View (POV) is not essential. Nor is it automatic.

A police blotter or military log describes events that occurred in town or around the base. The duty officer who records the events might not have witnessed or participated in any of the events. Such logs are records, not stories.

Flight recorders capture data from systems and record voices unfiltered. It’s automatic; done in a judgement-free electronic way, with no POV.

Stopped at rail crossing

When writing fiction, authors can use POV to further the reader’s emotional involvement. It’s a story. How many people would read it if they had no interest in the characters?

Stop to experience the POV

For the sake of most readers, authors present their stories through one or more POV.

They may have fascinating events, beautiful descriptions, and crisp dialog in mind, but before writing any of that, they STOP.

Look down the tracks
A scene is about to begin. You choose which character will be central to the action. Will that character tell the story for you — describing a first-person experience?

More narrative takes the third person. Even then, with dialog attributed to a he, she, or it, the character’s perspective controls the reader’s experience.

Look from that perspective

Begin from within the character. Set aside any notes or character studies you may have developed. Those influence but will not control the POV character’s current intentions.

What just happened that caused this character to feel this way? It still isn’t time to write. Instead, immerse yourself in wants, needs, and sensory experiences from a POV.

Listen for approaching train

Before picking up that #2 pencil or clicking keys on that keyboard, let your POV character provide insight on any other characters in that scene. What, from that POV, do the other characters seem to want, need, and experience?

Listen for what's ahead

Any character with more than a walk-on part in your story will have a story arc. That arc may be a fairly straight line but it will have a beginning, middle, and end. Where is each character now, in their arcs?

Your POV character may have to reflect on another character’s backstory. That requires telling, but if you can devise a way to show each character’s place in their story arc, that’s ideal.

A quick practice exercise in writing from a POV is in the blog post, Get ready to wrestle with Writer’s Block.