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.
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!
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.