Inhabiting Point of View – Chekhov #DealMeIn19

If you don’t know what Point of View (or POV) is, Imma tell you. It’s how what you’re talking (or writing) about looks because you’re telling it. You tell it the way you do because of your past, your education, your knowledge of what you’re talking about, your opinions, prejudices, character, health, and understanding.

Some writers write everything from the POV of their actual selves; some have a “writer self” who is different from their actual self. Ever hear of ghost writers? They hire themselves out to write from the POV of somebody else.

Other writers — and I try to be one of those — write every story from the POV of whoever is telling the story. If they’re writing a story about people who live in the country, they write using details a country person would know, metaphors that would seem natural for a country person to use, bringing in details that would be important to a person who lives in the country.

Chekhov, I’ve learned during this year of reading short stories, is brilliant at this.

Oh, yeah, I forgot to say: My Deal Me In short story reading challenge deck turned up clubs this week, so I read a Chekhov story.

Grisha

by Anton Chekhov

Grisha is a little boy, slightly over 2 1/2 years old. He’s the child of a wealthy family, out of the house for the first time in his life, walking with his nurse. We’re in his point of view.

Chekhov never leaves the child’s point of view for a minute. He knows soldiers when he sees them and horses, which makes sense, since he probably has toy soldiers and horses. But the horses’ legs astonish him, which also makes sense, since toy horse’s legs don’t move, and someone who has only seen creatures with two legs move would be astonished at how four legs work together. And the soldiers carry bath brooms under their arms, because he has no knowledge of guns.

What the child knows or thinks he knows, what he doesn’t know, what he guesses at, what he accepts and what confuses him are all perfectly realized.

At the end of the day, home and in bed, incapable of communicating what he’s seen because he lacks the vocabulary and organizational ability to do so, he can only weep. His mother gives him nasty medicine because she has no more capacity than the nurse has shown to enter into his point of view and do her part of the communication.

At least nothing ghastly happens to him, so thank you for that, Dr. Chekhov!

Deal Me In logo above designed by Mannomoi at https://dilettanteartiste.wordpress.com/ follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/callmemanno

If YOU need a short story to read, I have free ones here on my Free Reads page. I also have four collections for 99 cents each linked from my Short Stories page.

A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Write something from the pov of someone or something other than yourself. Remember to INHABIT that pov, and write AS IF YOU ARE that person or thing.

MA

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About

I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Inhabiting Point of View – Chekhov #DealMeIn19

  1. acflory

    August 19, 2019 at 7:30am

    I’ve read some otherwise interesting stories that fell flat because every character felt the ‘same’. Even if the physical descriptions were different, the personality behind the POV was always the author being himself. Sad, and ultimately kind of boring. 🙁

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author
      • acflory

        August 19, 2019 at 11:37pm

        Yes! Characters are meant to progress in some way, but that doesn’t mean they should be homogenized! lol

        Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    August 20, 2019 at 4:42am

    I switch around among my three main characters (there used to be six!), and have a whole process for becoming the current character again (because I write scenes in sequence), and there is a moment when suddenly I’m in that pov again.

    It’s weird but nice – and I always worry I won’t find that narrow window of vision before I do because I’ve just been someone else for a significant while. There’s a bit of acting background in my life – and you get to practice becoming the person who has a reason for saying the words the writer gives you.

    It’s easiest when you only have one pov character in the story – I’ve done that – but learning to do multiple had its interesting bits.
    Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt recently posted..Lessons from writing a play still hold

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      August 20, 2019 at 7:40am

      I know you do it properly, because I hate going into Bianca’s head, but then I “get” her and sympathize with her needs and goals, even if I deplore her methods. You make me understand why she thinks doing this stinky thing is a good idea. I want her happiness. Not at the expense of the characters I like better (pretty much everybody), but I’m pulled into thinking that, well, if that’s what it takes….
      Marian Allen recently posted..Peaches Lavender #Dessert #NotAStripper

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