Monday, August 9, 2010

Change Your Point of View

I've been working on a story that I thought was done.  I mean, not done done, but done with all the major stuff.  Then someone came along and poked some pretty big holes in my story and, after beating my face on my desk, I set about the work of addressing the issues.

The problem is that I'm having difficulty seeing how to make some of the changes.  This weekend I realized it came down to my inability to see beyond the constraints that I've placed on myself.  I've been telling the story from this one point of view for so long that I am having trouble seeing the world through fresh eyes.  I'm trapped by my inability to change.  I sat at my desk for hours trying to figure out how to make my main character see things differently.  But that's the thing:  maybe he can't.

So the logical solution seemed to be to look at the story through another character's eyes.  I'm not necessarily going to change the point of view from which I narrate the story, but when I look at the story through my antagonist's eyes or the eyes of a love interest or even a secondary character, the world inevitably looks different and I'm able to see some possible solutions to the problems that I'm having.

Characters, like people, have their own sets of beliefs, ways of thinking, and methods of doing things.  More than once I've sat and stared at a problem for DAYS and then someone comes up and says, "Oh, yeah, why don't you just do..."  and then they hand me the simple solution to my problem.  Looking at your story through the eyes of another character can force you to do the same thing.  The answer might be right in front of you if you know how to look for it.

As for me:  I'm going to beat my head on the desk a couple more times and then get back to work.  Happy Monday.


  1. What a good point! I've never considered that Shaun, thanks for sharing.

    So just because you don't want to write a chapter from another character's POV doesn't mean you can't consider the plot from their position, and then work it into the narrative in an appropriate way.

  2. Matthew: Any time! I get so single-mindedly bogged down in doing things a certain way that it's difficult for me to see other points of view. Thinking about the story from another character's perspective really helped :)

  3. Sound advice, Shaun! Next time, I get into a hole, I'll have to try this.

  4. This is also a great argument for critique partners. Here's wishing any revision is rewarding and relatively painless.


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