Writing Tip Wednesday: Changing perspectives.

The point of view your story is told from is fairly crucial. It can really make or break your story. There are three types of point of view: first (I said), second (you said) and third (She said.) It is important to figure out which point of view you are going to write in. You might want to go for a more personal, immediate point of view and go with first, or you might want to see from other characters points of view and go for third. It all depends on the need of your story. This might come naturally, or you might have to experiment a little until you find the right voice.

I knew how important point of view was, but I didn’t fully understand until I was working on a short story last week. I was working on a draft of a story that had a solid idea, a perfect plot and even good writing, but there was something off about it. I was reading over it thinking it should be better than it was, that it felt a bit flat. Then it struck me to change the point of view and it really popped, becoming the story I had expected it to be in the first place. I had originally wrote it in third person and changed it to first person. The story was about a young woman who gets trapped by an evil sorcerer. By making it first I put the reader in my protagonist shoes and made it more personal, so (hopefully) they will feel more for her and be more horrified by her situation.

Maybe if your story is feeling a bit flat, or something is wrong and you’re not sure what, you might need a point of view change. If it’s a novel, only do a few chapters in the different point of view before changing the whole thing. It is a long process to change an entire manuscript to a different point of view, especially if you change it and realise that it isn’t working that new way after all. If you do a few chapters and realise the point of view change is needed, you can then go on and finish it and you won’t have wasted a large amount of time.

It doesn’t matter what point of view you want to tell your story in, as long as it is the best point of view for your story. The right point of view can make a flat, boring, or even good story, great, and great stories are what we all want to write.

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6 thoughts on “Writing Tip Wednesday: Changing perspectives.

  1. Excellent post, Rochelle. Funnily enough, only a couple of months ago, a fellow writer told me how, even when she wants to write a story in third person, she often starts in first because it helps to get inside the character. Later, she’ll go back and change the “I”s to “he” or “she” as appropriate and (apparently) only have to make minor changes to the rest of the text. Haven’t tried it yet, but, like your recommendation, it does make sense.

    1. Thanks.
      Yes, I have heard of some writers doing this, but it’s not something I’ve done personally. I like to go with what comes out naturally when I first start writing. Most of the time it works well. Occasionally, like with my short story, it doesn’t work and I’ll need to change.

  2. Ooh, this is such an interesting topic. I’ve written on all point of views more than once, and I have to say that third person is probably my favourite — especially if I am writing a fantasy. I can switch more easily and also, I don’t think it would be as jarring for the reader. First person, though, is better when the story focuses on one or two main characters; I feel like it allows the reader to get into the character’s head more — if that makes sense. Second person is an interesting one because it’s not that commonly used. I remember for my NaNo ’12 novel I struggled a lot with perspectives. The first draft was written in third person, but this just wasn’t working. I started to rewrite it completely in first person . . . but I still thought there was something missing. Something wrong about it. So last year I rewrote it in second person; I know that sounds strange for a story to be written like that yet to me it just worked. (The novel itself is formatted like a letter, so using ‘you’ just made sense.)

    Great post!

    1. Thanks 🙂
      Second person is such rare and it does intrigue me. I think it is a great point of view to write in if done correctly. I have written a short story in second person but nothing bigger than that yet. I think it’s great you wrote a novel in second person, if it is working, why not?

  3. That’s interesting. Sort of like when you take your characters in directions they aren’t ready for: they always make you come back 🙂 I’ve only written one book, and I really didn’t know what I was doing and just naturally wrote first person. I was advised to use third person for a flashback chapter about a different character and it was really hard.:S Oh, maybe because it was past tense as well and I write in present tense. But it did make it more obvious that the pov was from a different person, so I was very grateful for the advice 🙂

    1. Most of the time I just write in the point of view that comes naturally when I sit down and start a novel, and that point of view ends up being right. Sometimes I’ve had to change to it to make the story better.
      I’ve written books from both first and third. First I use for my contemporary YA and third for my fantasies. I don’t really like one better than the other, I just go with what the story needs.

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