The other day, I was talking story with a writer friend, and we got onto subject of point of view.
Now, there are two kinds of point-of-view decisions. One is, do you tell the story from first person (I knocked down the door and strode through, a revolver blazing in each hand) or third person (HE knocked down the door). Occasionally, someone writes a book in second person (YOU knock down the door) — second person is usually, though not always, written in the present tense.
The other kind — and the kind we were talking about — is narrative point-of-view, as in who tells the story, no matter what grammatical person you use.
I’ve had books I just couldn’t get going. Pushing that pencil or those keys was like trying to push a chain uphill. Couldn’t do it. When that happens to me, I know the story is trying to tell me something. Sometimes what it’s trying to tell me is that I’m trying to tell the story from the wrong narrative point of view.
The foremost example is probably the Sherlock Holmes stories. Holmes is the main character, and has all the action and most of the best lines. Yet the stories are better, told from the point-of-view of his sidekick. We wouldn’t be astonished at Holmes’ brilliance, if we were inside his head and knew what he knows and followed his inferences and deductions all along.
If you have a book or a story you can’t get moving, try writing a scene from the point of view of a different character. Maybe a character you thought was just a bit character needs to be more important. Maybe the whole book is actually about what you thought was a minor sub-plot.
Alice Friman, one of my favorite poets, said that everything you create is a thread that’s attached to something in your subconscious. Sometimes what that thread attaches to isn’t what you think it attaches to. Sometimes switching out plot lines and narrative characters can sort out what you really want to say, as opposed to what you thought you wanted to say.
It’s worth a try!
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Take a famous story and tell it from a different point of view. Or, take a scene from one of your own books and retell it from another person’s perspective.