Recently, while driving, I got to thinking about perspectives within stories.
(I do a lot of thinking while I drive…I do a lot of swearing to myself at the idiots on the road too…yup, I’m one of those drivers).
Now by ‘perspective’ I mean in reference to the narrator’s voice. As in the perspective of the narrator. If you are writing a book in 3rd person your narrator will probably change (unless you’re writing 3rd person limited).
I have seen in a few unpublished stories by young writers where the authors didn’t really take into consideration who the narrator was within a scene or chapter and this led to a disjointed story as the narrator randomly changed mid-scene.
Whenever I write a scene or chapter I always have an idea who the narrator is. By that I mean, whose head I am in at that time. So I see the other characters react through his/her eyes.
That becomes the dominant character in that scene. As I have several major characters in all my novels, I do always need to consider who the narrator will be.
John rubbed his hand over his eyes, already there was a headache squeezing his temples. Maybe he could step away, just bow out and let them fix it on their own. Looking up he saw three hopeful faces.
“We did what you said,” Eric beamed. “Well, we mostly did what you said.”
Beside him Nancy seemed less sure, shifting her weight from foot to foot. Though the cautious smile she wore was slowly building.
Pretty obvious that the narrator of this scene is John. We are feeling his headache, sensing his frustration and the resignation that he really can’t “bow out”. We are seeing Eric beam and noticing Nancy shuffling about.
Now if the next paragraph went like this…
Nancy suddenly felt John’s gaze focus on the pair of them. There was no smile on his face, just a weariness buried deep in those brown eyes. Slowly she felt her own smile start to fade. Beside her Eric continued on, unaware as usual.
Now we’re in Nancy’s head. We don’t know what John was thinking just seeing his reaction and relaying how it affects hers.
As writers we need to keep an eye on the dominant character within each scene. It can often help to make a note (for yourself) at the top of a scene/chapter as to who is the dominant character in this scene – who is the narrator. If anything it can bring you back if you veer off course several pages in.
This is part of the creative process, trying to work out who is the best person to be the narrator in each scene. At the start of a new chapter, you can always shift to another character who is present and having their reaction to the tale end of that scene.
Just something to think about. 🙂
Hope you enjoyed this post. As always there will be a guest post on Tuesday so pop back for that and I’ll be here again next Friday (I really will this time! I know I’ve been a little sporadic recently)
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PS: please excuse the rubbish writing examples, I do actually write better than that. I can never think up good examples :p