Friday, April 1st, 2011

Writing Prompt: An Alternate Point of View

Towering Pile of ManuscriptsI’ve just finished editing a scene in my (completed) novel which has given me fits and starts for weeks.

It’s (mostly) a conversation between two very strong women in which important revelations are made.

Both women are surprised at what they learn. Their feelings — and their intentions — are both relevant to the story. But I can only tell it from a single point of view. So, which should I choose?

That’s been my dilemma. And over the last few weeks, I’ve re-written the scene several times, first from one point of view, and then the other. And then I flip-flopped, and flip-flopped again.

Each time, the scene has become stronger and the dialogue more tense. Each re-write made the prose leaner and tougher.

I finally settled on a viewpoint, and it’s not that of the protagonist.

The fact is: even though my protagonist learns some pretty significant things about herself, the other character has more to lose because of it.

Literary genius Sol Stein suggests that a scene should be written in the POV of the character who is affected most by the scene’s content. This makes sense to me, and that’s why I decided to leave it in the point of view of the secondary character.

Bonus!   Writing from her POV stirred my muse to suggested additional plot layers, so the story has grown as well.

Here’s Your Prompt: Choose a scene you’ve written that’s not working for you. Write it from the point of view of another character. Be sure to include what this character thinks and feels and sees as the scene progresses. Be cognizant of how the flavor of the scene may be changed due to the alternate point of view.

If you don’t have an existing scene, write one! When you’re finished, start over and write it from the opposite POV.

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