Home / Articles / Book Reviews / Books on Writing / Quotations / Links


How to Know Which Point of View to Use in a Story
By Sheila C Skillman

It has been said that there's no original plot or story around. But what makes any story unique is the angle the author takes. And the angle is determined by the point of view. Choosing the best point of view is absolutely critical to the success of a story. If it's taken from the point of view of a character the reader doesn't care about much, or a character who is peripheral to the central drama, then the story will fail.

In selecting the best point of view one determining factor stands out above all others - that is, high emotional stakes. When you look at your story you need to ask "Whose story is this?" The answer lies in the person who has the highest emotional stakes in what is going on.
Making decisions on this is often more challenging than you may imagine. After all, a fictional story can often arise from the unconscious - which, as I'm sure Carl Jung, that master of the subject would agree, can be very undisciplined and chaotic. Once the story has been created, then some kind of rational structure must be forged for it.

These are the five questions the author has to ask herself:
1) What is the central question of the story, to which the reader wants to know the answer?
2) What information must be held back, in order to create suspense?
3) What will the outcome of the story be? - in other words, the answer to that central question?
4) Who has the most to gain or the most to lose, hanging on the answer to that central question?
5) With whom will the reader most want to identify?
Sometimes of course a new story can spring up directly from the main POV character and their dilemma. In other cases, however, a story can arise from the unconscious mind, and then the author needs to do some excavation work, in order to extract from that story idea the individual who is in most peril, emotionally or physically, from the working out of the plot.
It can be an entertaining exercise to imagine a famous story as it would be from the point of view of a different character. For instance, consider the Harry Potter stories taken from the point of view of Hermione or Ron - interesting, but not as powerful as the story from Harry's POV. Then consider the story from Snape's POV - disastrous! There would be no suspense whatsoever. Admittedly that is rather an extreme example.

And then, finally, we turn to examples which look on the surface like exceptions to my rule of high emotional stakes. Take the case of the new tenant at Wuthering Heights, who opens Emily Bronte's classic story. And then events are recounted by Nellie Dean, the nursemaid. So in what way can Nellie be described as the character who has the highest emotional stakes in the story? Perhaps "Wuthering Heights" is a special case. By virtue of Nellie's long service with this family, her devotion and sheer emotional stability, she becomes a pivotal point for the melodramatic tale of tumultuous emotions, violence and tragedy. Perhaps then, "mental and emotional stability" might be another qualification for a POV character, especially in a tale such as this - in other words, the one character with whom your reader will want to identify - if only on grounds of sanity.

S.C.Skillman is the author of "Mystical Circles" - "intense psychological drama in a beautiful setting". Buy the book on Amazon or download on your Kindle; or visit the author's website to find out more, and click the secure payment gateway to buy a signed copy at http://www.scskillman.co.uk.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Sheila_C_Skillman




 Search the Web:

Custom Search
Contact Us
Copyright 2011 ©Linda C Butler
PO Box 92, Chilliwack BC V2P 6H7
All Rights Reserved Internationally
Legal Notice and Privacy Policy