Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Point of View

The creation of interesting, engaging, and believable characters for any novel is a crucial step in the writing process.
(Thank you, Captain Obvious.)

Writing back-stories for each character (even minor ones) helps to flesh out what gives them motivation, inspiration, anxiety, and trepidation. It also reveals how their hopes, dreams, hang-ups and personal history shape how they see the world, and how they interact/react to it.

Nowhere is this more important than your novel’s “point of view” protagonist. The story unfolds through their eyes, thoughts, words and actions. Their opinions, beliefs, bias, and worldview are as much a part of the story as the story itself.

In Tracker, for example, there are two main protagonists, and each chapter/scene is told from either Amos’ or Aubrey’s point of view.
And I learned from experience why so few authors create main characters whose names end with the letter “S”. Hint: you will invest a lot of time looking for new ways to avoid apostrophes. :)
This meant that any given scene/chapter would be told exclusively from one viewpoint — so if the character left the room, for example, there was no way of knowing what happened in their absence. There was no omniscient narrator providing background or context — the story was written so that the reader only knew or discovered whatever the characters knew or discovered.
A third perspective was provided by one of the ‘enemy’ (a Tracker). It was a great deal of fun to write from viewpoint of a Tracker — just how does a fanatical, semi-cyborg killing machine ‘think’, anyway? — and provide an insight into their very ‘alien’ worldview regarding their ‘targets’ (the protagonists).
The second and third books in the Trilogy widened the reader’s experience of the dystopian society where the story takes place. The introduction of Connor provided a fourth point of view: one representing the despised elite class who possessed just about as much contempt/prejudice against Amos and Aubrey, as they felt for him and his companions.

The creative fun/challenge with a viewpoint like Connor’s was to make him believable and even sympathetic: they’re forced into an alliance because of a common enemy, but that doesn’t mean they like or trust each other. And each side had their ‘reasons’ to justify their biases. The inherent conflict of their clashing worldviews provided some great opportunities for character development, as well.
Deciding whose viewpoint will be taken when all the characters are in the same scene can be challenging. Solving that piece of the puzzle just makes the story stronger.
“Point of view” is not just the luck of the draw when a writer begins creating a new work. It’s key to the story-telling, based upon well-thought-out backstories, a combination of strengths & weaknesses in each character, and an opportunity — whether utilizing single or multiple viewpoints — to create compelling fiction that captures the imagination of the reader.

A “page-turner”, in other words. That’s the goal.

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