11 Points of View & What to Do with Them – Part 2 by Janine M. Donoho

Change your point-of-view

Since my last post, I’ve had several writers asking for the final six POVs. It turns out you’re a voracious crew needing little time to digest what you learn. Since withholding wasn’t my intent, here they are:

6. Detached autobiography = writing about past events with a change in perspective

Up until I learned my lesson in a very bitter way, I never had more than one friend at a time, and my friendships, though ardent, were short….After the scandal died down, I got into the Campfire Girls. It was through pull, of course, since Stella had been a respected member for two years and my mother was a friend of the leader….Even Muff did not miss our periods of companionship, because about that time she grew up and started having literally millions of kittens. (From “Bad Characters” by Jean Stafford)

7 . Memoir (observer narration) = imitation of first hand reporting

During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country, and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. (From “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe)

8. Biography/anonymous narration via single POV = physical vantage point & personal perception of events

As soon as he and Patricia and Edith set off for the park, it began to snow. Big flakes unexpectedly fell on the rocky hill, and the sky grew dark as dusk though it was only three in the afternoon. (From “Patricia, Edith, and Arnold” by Dylan Thomas)

9. Anonymous narration via dual POV = inner life of two characters

The thoughtful serious state of mind in which Mary found herself had been induced in her by a conversation had with her father on the evening before….In the road stood Duke Yetter…‘She doesn’t want to be seen walking with me,’ he had told himself, ‘that’s all right. She knows well enough I’ll follow…’ (From “Unlighted Lamps” by Sherwood Anderson)

 10. Anonymous narration via multiple POVs = POVs as framed by the author’s

Mrs. Mooney: counted all her cards again before sending Mary up to Mr. Doran’s room to say that she wished to speak with him…..Polly knew that she was being watched, but still her mother’s persistent silence could not be misunderstood….Mr. Doran: All his long years of service gone for nothing! (From “The Boarding House” by James Joyce)

 11. Anonymous narration via no character POV = no inner life presented (e.g. fairytales, legends, myths)

The sexton stood in the porch of Milford meetinghouse, pulling busily at the bell rope. The old people of the village came stooping along the street. Children, with bright faces, tripped merrily beside their parents, or mimicked a graver gait, in the conspicuous dignity of their Sunday clothes. (From “The Minister’s Black Veil” by Nathaniel Hawthorne)

Now go play with POV, you wild creatives. Allow me to wish you joy in your journey.

Point of View (1)

11 Points of View & What to Do with Them – Part 1 by Janine M. Donoho

Point-of-viewLet me share a joyful secret from my romp toward my biology degree. Peripheral coursework fed my spirit even as I stuffed my brain with cool science. Classes on writing craft counted as my favorite tangents.

One of those traversed the intricate dance of point of view (POV). With my core curriculum overfull, Carol Orlock’s offering cemented POV as one of the most important choices a writer can make. Here’s why.

POV: 1. A manner of viewing things; an attitude. 2. a. A position from which something is observed or considered; a standpoint. b. The attitude or outlook of a narrator or character in a piece of literature, a movie, or another art form.

What this tells us? Characters emerge dependent upon their vantage point and perceptions of events. Who decides what POV to use? Why, we writers do.

Drumroll please!  Now the first 5 POVs complete with short story excerpts that show them in action.

1. Interior monologue = overhearing the writer’s thoughts

I knew it. I knew if I came to this dinner, I’d draw something like this baby on my left. They’ve been saving him up for me for weeks. Now, we’ve simply got to have him—his sister was so sweet to us in Longdon; we can stick him next to Mrs. Parker—she talks enough for two. (From “But the One on the Right” by Dorothy Parker)

 2. Dramatic monologue = overhearing someone speaking to another person

Eleven o’clock. A knock at the door.…I hope I haven’t disturbed you, madam. You weren’t asleep—were you? But I’ve just given my lady her tea, and there was such a nice cup over, I thought, perhaps… (From “The Lady’s Maid” by Katherine Mansfield)

 3. Letter narration = a collection of spontaneous letters

September 16th, 1879

My dear Mother

Since I last wrote to you I have left that hotel, and come to live in a French family. It’s a kind of boardinghouse combined with a kind of school; only it’s not like an American boardinghouse, nor like an American school either. (From “A Bundle of Letters” by Henry James)

4. Diary narration = writer reacting to events as they happen

Dr. Strauss says I shud rite down what I think and evrey thing that happins to me from now on. I dont know why but he says its importint so they will see if they will use me. I hope they use me. (From “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes)

5. Subjective narration = told by characters after events (e.g. an untrustworthy narrator)

I know what is being said about me and you can take my side or theirs, that’s your own business. It’s my word against Eunice’s and Olivia-Ann’s, and it should be plain enough to anyone with two good eyes which one of us has their wits about them. (From My Side of the Matter” by Truman Capote)

Yes, I’ve served up a geek’s view of POV—deeper and more detailed than many how-to versions. Once you play with these and learn how varied and unique they can make your tales, you may succumb to spontaneous laughter, dancing, then invite them into your story process. Don’t be shy and please share your ah-ha moments. Next week we’ll cover the final six POVs.Point of view

Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27, 2015
The big day is here.

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