Friday, March 24, 2017

Whose Point of View?

A popular post from January 2008

By Heather Moore

In a recent manuscript, I came to a dead stop at a particular scene. But it was not just an ordinary scene—it was the climax of the entire novel.

In this scene, a man is burned to death for his religious beliefs. He is given the chance to recount his teachings, but refuses. Therefore, the punishment is death by fire.

I wondered if the scene would be stronger in the man’s point of view . . . or in the man’s wife’s point of view.

Would it be more compelling for us to know the thoughts of a man who’s taking his last breath and knowing he’s going to die? Is it more compelling to “feel” the pain of fire with him as he’s consumed?

OR is it more compelling to watch with his wife as her husband is brutally tortured? Do we want to know her intimate emotions, experience her undoubted grief and horror? To hear her thoughts of loss and anguish?

The way I answered this question was: Who has the most to lose?

Then I posted it on a blog and received excellent feedback. Everyone agreed. The wife had the most to lose. So the death scene should be in her POV.

When you are writing in multiple view points (3rd person in my case), the rule of thumb for selecting POV is to take a look at the character who experiences the most change, or is highly affected, or who has the most to lose in the scene.

Then you'll have your answer.


Rachelle said...

I'd never thought of POV this way before. What a great guideline to use from now on! Thanks.

Julie Wright said...

love this point of view on point of view. Very nice things to think about. Dang I bet that scene rocks.

Anonymous said...

When you're talking about POV third person with multiple viewpoints, as you are doing, then are you referring to focusing on the thoughts and viewpoint--primarily--of the character who undergoes the greatest amount of change?