David A. Schwinghammer
· Soldier's Gap
· Fisher of Men, Chapter 8
· Honest Thief, Tender Murderer, Chapter Eight
· Mengele's Double, Chapter Eight
· Bereavement Blues
· Fisher of Men, Chapter 7
· Speed Dating With 'Janeane Garofalo'
· The Cynic
· Honest Thief, Tender Murderer - Chapter Seven
· Mengele's Double, Chapter 7
· Mengele's Double, Chapter Six
· Empty Mansions, book review
· Pilgrim's Wilderness, book review
· WWII Cartoonist, book review
· Write Yourself Into a Corner, book review
· Roanoke Island, book review
· Billboard Theology
· Baghdad Without a Map, book review
· Into the Wild, book review
· The Zookeeper's Wife (review)
· The Lost Painting, book review
· Alumni Game
· Girls Who Wear Glasses
· The Do Drop Inn
· Ode to Neve Campbell
· Jacks or Better 101
· Never My Love
· 3 O'Clock
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Blogs by David A. Schwinghammer
Point of view
8/27/2009 9:43:16 AM
Who is telling the story in your novel?
Point of View
Your reader wants to know who is telling the story. There are five main points of view. All have their pros and cons.
1. Omniscient. As an author you are God-like. You are writing in third person (he/she) but you can move in and out of your characterís heads. You can even know things that your characters donít, like whatís happening thousands of miles away. An example of omniscient pov would be a Dickens novel. A more modern writer who uses it to good effect is Larry McMurtrey of LONESOME DOVE fame. You must let your reader know immediately youíre using omniscient. A good way to start would be to describe your scene, then move into one of your character's heads.
2. Narrator as central character. You are writing in first person (I). Donít use ďIĒ too much, though. It will begin to sound monotonous. This is one of the most popular points of view with beginning writers. Some workshop leaders even recommend it. An example would be TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Work hard on your ďvoice.Ē You should be able to pick up a page from the book and immediately know who is talking. Scout Finch is that kind of narrator.
3. Narrator as minor character. You are still writing in first person, but youíre writing about somebody else, like Nick in THE GREAT GATSBY. Obviously Jay Gatsby canít tell his own story because heís dead at the end of the novel. Youíre also more believable as somebody with nothing at stake in the novel.
4. Author limited. Youíre writing in 3rd person but youíre confined to only one character. Itís the easiest one to employ in my mind as writers naturally fall into the habit of telling you what a character is thinking. Donít interrupt the flow of the action too much, though. Thatís called internal monologue and some editors really hate it. An example of author limited is my novel, SOLDIERíS GAP. See a sample on Amazon.com.
5. Camera eye. You will know youíve arrived when you can master this one. You are not allowed to go inside your characters' heads. You are literally a camera eye and you are just showing the reader what is happening. It is also called dramatic and minimalist point of view. Hemingway loved it. So did Raymond Carver, the principal minimalist guru. This is the most objective point of view. Your reader may not like it because he/she needs to make up his own mind about whatís going on, not something they like to do these days.
Pros and Cons
1. Omniscient. Lots of freedom, but donít get the idea itís easy. Read Tolstoy sometime and ask yourself if you can do that. I think you have to be an abstract sequential in order to use omniscient well. Really smart in other words. The drawback is that itís not very believable. Itís making a comeback these days, however.
2. Narrator as Central Character. Reader identifies with the main character, even if heís a jerk. The drawback is that thereís a tendency to tell rather than show.
3. Author limited. Almost as close to the reader as Narrator as central character, but thereís a tendency to tell what your character is thinking at every turn. See Nevada Barr.
4. Narrator as minor character. The pro is that this guy or girl should be objective about whatís happening. The con is that they donít have first-hand access to whatís going on. They must rely to some extent on other people to get the news and you know how that goes.
5. Camera eye. This is the most objective. The reader decides what events mean, but the reader doesnít really identify with the characters. ďBig Two-Hearted River,Ē is pretty darn boring if you donít like fishing.
Hereís a book for you if you want a more in-depth analysis. MASTERING POINT OF VIEW by Sherri Szeman. I got it from Writerís Digest Book Club, but itís probably available on Amazon.com. They have everything.
If you want to check out a modern novel to see if you can tell what point of view an author is using, you may have a hard time. Many like to pull a switcharoo after chapters. You may have a different character telling the story or the author may switch to omniscient after starting in narrator as central character. Then there's something called stream of consciousness. James Joyce wrote a novel with only one sentence and William Faulkner wrote a novel, THE SOUND AND THE FURY, with an idiot telling the story. The idea is to sound like people think. We're always flitting around in our minds, never staying on one topic too long. Try short stories. They usually behave themselves.
Dave Schwinghammerís published novel, SOLDIERíS GAP, is available on Amazon.com at a discount. Several used copies (and some cheaper new ones) can also be ordered there.
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