Today I wanted to talk a little about the impact of point of view on a story and character. This is something I have been thinking a great deal about as I continue to bite my nails pitifully and whimper while I stand over my manuscript, wondering how I'm going to fix it. The point of view you choose can do a lot to change the tone and voice of a story. Yes. Yes. I know every writer has a voice. But I think, so does every character. I don't know all the logistics. Far better writers have spoken about the subject. I am no authority. That said, figuring out the best way to highlight the strength of both the writer and the character in a story is a finely crafted magical thing I stand in awe of each time I read a great book.
Here's an excerpt of something new I've been working on.
Thain Mora entered the cantina hoping for a reprieve from the brutal climate. The hot red-stained wind swirled indoors in his wake. He brushed the dust from his umber cloak onto the clay floor as the door clapped shut. Peeling the leather glove from his autothetic hand without a second thought, he raked back his hood. The Venture would begin in one hour and he wanted no part of it.
The crowded cantina grew quiet.
He didn’t have to look to know they stared.
Even here on Nacol, a multi-race port world at the edge of the system, the Vok were feared. But Thain knew it wasn’t the exposed clan markings on his neck, or even his mechanical limb that attracted fearful recognition. His peculiar white hair and ghostly blue eyes were enough to unsettle most beings in the thirteen systems. Including his own clansmen.
Third limited POV can offer up some great information. For one, you get to know the name of your character in the first line. But it comes with challenges when you can't keep the POV tight enough and it can feel like you are being told a story. Here's the same passage reworked.
I entered the cantina, hoping for a reprieve. The hot re-stained wind swirled indoors. I brushed the dust from my umber cloak onto the clay floor as the door clapped shut. I peeled the leather glove from my autothetic hand and raked back my hood. The Venture would begin in one hour and I wanted no part of it.
The crowded cantina grew quiet.
I didn't have to look to know they stared.
Even here in Nacol, a multi-race port at the edge of the system, Vok were feared. But I knew it wasn't the exposed clan markings on my neck, or even my mechanical limb that attracted fearful recognition. My peculiar white hair and ghostly blue eyes were enough to unsettle most beings in the thirteen systems. Including my own clansmen.
It's a tough call. And one every writer has to make. How are you going to tell your story? Who will tell the story? Whose story is it? Point of view addresses these questions and more. One of the best, most fun things for me as a writer is reworking the POV in the early stages and discovering the answers to these questions. But what happens when you are a full manuscript into a story and you realize it's not working as well as it could? That's the tough part. Reworking point of view and character voice once you are 450 pages invested can be daunting. That's sort of what I'm facing now.
All we can do as writers is push forward and try to tell the best story we can. Understanding the craft and how it can help and hurt your story is the biggest part of this. As readers or writers, becoming aware of how and who is telling a story can be an eye opening experience. I challenge you to really listen to voice and point of view the the next book you read and consider the many, many options that author had open to them to tell that story. It's mind boggling to think how many ways a story could be told and the reasons why one way makes it to the page.
Until next week, when we'll have more of the same random writing and reading related whatevers. Peas be with you.