I’ve been reading a lot about perspectives for my masters and it is fascinating to learn that in reality, when it comes to writing, there are really only two point-of-views: first person or third person.
So, while the world around us is viewed through millions of eyes, when a writer sits down to pen a story the first decision s/he have to make is: who is telling the story? Is it the main character or do I decide that I want to go a bit ‘Victorian’ on the story and be omniscient* (admittedly not a very modern approach). Or foregoing that, novelists have the option of something called “free indirect style”.
But what does that mean? Well, very simply put, if you don’t want to wander around your story writing from the ‘I’ point of view, you take a step back and create the possibility of allowing the reader to see things through the narrators and the characters eyes at the same time.
This can be a bit tricky, as you need to use your characters language and then sprinkle in your own observations in a veiled way – allowing the reader to decide who had the thoughts, the narrator or the character?
And to be clear, surprising for some maybe, the narrator is NOT the author, but instead a fictional voice who guides the reader through the story. Some would even say that the person who sits down to write, is not the same as the author, but that the author is actually only a mask a person wears while writing.
Perspective seems to be much trickier than I thought. Maybe unsurprising if you think about how hard we often find it to understand each other, how difficult side-by-side living can sometimes be.
But, no matter how much I contemplate and discover things about point of view I somehow can’t help myself and always think about that iconic scene from that 1989 movie Dead Poets Society. Changing your own point-of-view may change more than you know.
*omniscient: all knowing, all seeing. A God-like approach to a story, where the narrator can see into all the characters heads and even know more then they do themselves as the omniscient narrator even knows their dreams and unconscious thoughts.