Perspectives (POVs)

-noun-
the appearance of objects, buildings, etc, relative to each other, as determined by their distance from the viewer, or the effects of this distance on their appearance

In the writing world, perspective is simply the point of view from which the story is told. Commonly on the web, it’s shortened to “POV” for point of view.

Today I’m going to be talking about different points of view and how which one you pick affects the way your story is read.

There are three different perspectives from which you can tell a story. There’s first person which is you telling the story to someone else. For instance:

I ran through the parking lot, looking for a place to drop the bloody handkerchief. My heart was pounding, adrenaline rushing through my veins.

Then there’s second person, which isn’t very commonly used, but involves using “you” instead of “I.” So using our original example:

You run through the parking lot, looking for a place to drop the bloody handkerchief. Your heart is pounding, adrenaline rushing through your veins.

Then there’s third person, which is when you are telling a story about another person.

She ran through the parking lot, looking for a place to drop the bloody handkerchief. Her heart was pounding, adrenaline rushing through her veins.

Now, it may seem like it doesn’t matter which perspective you use. And when it comes to “right” versus “wrong”, it really doesn’t matter. That’s why this post is filed under style. The perspective you tell your story from will change how the story is told, but will have no bearing on whether the story is grammatically correct or not. That’s what style does, and why it’s so important.

All right, so the passage we’re looking at today is a rather long one and comes from the Wattpad story Revenge is Sweet, it Really Is by PurpleChair.

I just kissed a random dude!

To get my ex-boyfriend jealous!

In the middle of the supermarket!

Suddenly i realised that i hadn’t moved from my previous position during our embrace. I looked down at our bodies that were so close, you wouldn’t even be able to fit a pencil between us. Then i looked back to where my arms were tangled around his neck, grasping at the dark hairs at the base of his neck. His arms were still encircling my waist.

“Oh God…” i moaned as i took my arms from around his neck and put my head in my hands. I heard his deep chuckle, and peeked through my fingers to look at him. He had a huge grin on his face.

” I don’t think i was that bad was i?” He said with a smirk on his face. Wow. Cocky much?

I lifted my hands fully out of my hands, and looked at him. Like really looked. His face betrayed no hint of regret, but instead was plastered with a smugness so sickening, the regret i already felt just got a lot worse. His face was just a teasing reminder of one of the most embarrassing things i have ever done in my life.

Right there and then i knew that i had to get out of here and away from Mr. Cocky-McGrin-Face. (inventive isn’t it?).

“I’m sorry i’ve got to go.”

I spun on my heel and began to walk away.

“Mr. Cocky-McGrin-Face’s P.O.V*

She couldn’t seriously think about going after what just happened without offering any explanation! Could she? I scanned her face for signs of a joke. Oh my god, i think she’s serious! I am completely dumbfounded to what teasing game she was playing. Definitely one i haven’t heard of before, because i don’t know anyone that walk away after kissing me like thatin a grocery store. I’m not cocky or anything, but i am gorgeous. And hot. And dreamy. And smokin’. And- OK, maybe i’m a little bit cocky, but that still doesn’t leave me as to a reason why this girl is just going to walk off. OK, maybe it does, but i have feeling that there’s another reason for her abrupt departure. I eyed her carefully, trying to work out her reason for leaving, but before i could figure it out , she turned around and started walking away.

Wow. OK, no way. No way is she leaving without so much as an explanation!

Before i knew it, I was pulling her back, my hands on her waist holding her to the spot.

“And where do you think you’re going?”

She can’t honestly be surprised that i’d ask that would she?

She looked at me with wide eyes. They really were the most enticing shade of green. I can’t really think of the words to describe them, but they were definitely something i hadn’t ever come across. Shaking myself out of my crazy thoughts, i concentrated on the matter at hand.

Now the first thing we’re going to do is fix all the little grammar things. Since this post is dedicated to style and not grammar, I’m not going to discuss the mistakes, but I will mark them in red.

I just kissed a random dude!

To get my ex-boyfriend jealous!

In the middle of the supermarket!

Suddenly I realised [E/N: as two commenters kindly informed me, “realised” is to the UK as “realized” is to the US. I just went with spell check and didn’t realiz(s)e it, lol.] that I hadn’t moved from my previous position during our embrace. I looked down at our bodies that were so close, you wouldn’t even be able to fit a pencil between us. Then I looked back to where my arms were tangled around his neck, grasping at the dark hairs at the base of his neck. His arms were still encircling my waist.

“Oh, God…” I moaned as I took my arms from around his neck and put my head in my hands. I heard his deep chuckle, and peeked through my fingers to look at him. He had a huge grin on his face.

” I don’t think I was that bad, was I?” He said with a smirk on his face. Wow. Cocky much?

I lifted my hands fully out of my hands, and looked at him. Like really looked. His face betrayed no hint of regret, but instead was plastered with a smugness so sickening, the regret I already felt just got a lot worse. His face was just a teasing reminder of one of the most embarrassing things i have ever done in my life.

Right there and then I knew that I had to get out of here and away from Mr. Cocky-McGrin-Face. (Inventive isn’t it?).

“I’m sorry, I‘ve got to go.”

I spun on my heel and began to walk away.

“Mr. Cocky-McGrin-Face’s P.O.V*

She couldn’t seriously think about going after what just happened without offering any explanation! Could she? I scanned her face for signs of a joke. Oh my God, I think she’s serious! I am completely dumbfounded to what teasing game she was playing. Definitely one I haven’t heard of before, because I don’t know anyone that walk away after kissing me like that in a grocery store. I’m not cocky or anything, but i am gorgeous. And hot. And dreamy. And smokin’. And- OK, maybe I’m a little bit cocky, but that still doesn’t leave me as to a reason why this girl is just going to walk off. OK, maybe it does, but I have feeling that there’s another reason for her abrupt departure. I eyed her carefully, trying to work out her reason for leaving, but before i could figure it out , she turned around and started walking away.

Wow. OK, no way. No way is she leaving without so much as an explanation!

Before i knew it, I was pulling her back, my hands on her waist holding her to the spot.

“And where do you think you’re going?”

She can’t honestly be surprised that I’d ask that would she?

She looked at me with wide eyes. They really were the most enticing shade of green. I can’t really think of the words to describe them, but they were definitely something I hadn’t ever come across. Shaking myself out of my crazy thoughts, I concentrated on the matter at hand.

Okay. So looking at the passage above, what things can we tell about first person?

  • it limits what you know about the scene (since you’re only allowed to know what one person is thinking at a time)
  • it gives you a great deal of insight into a single character’s mind and how they see that world
  • it lacks a lot of sensory detail and seems to focus on actions more (this may not be universal, but it seems to be a trend I’ve found)

Now, this author has sidestepped the first part by introducing two people’s points of view in one passage. This is extremely common in online writing but virtually never done in the middle of a chapter of a written book. To be more formal, published authors usually separate points of view by chapters or use third person instead. Like I said before, there is not right or wrong about it. It’s a style issue.

Now let’s see what this passage would look like if it was written in third person. Keep in mind that I shortened the passage considerably and that it’s written in my style, not the authors. (Which means it has it’s own ways that it could be improved. Trust me, I know that). However, try to pick out the difference between the first person and third person points of view.

“Oh, God,” she moaned, extracting her hands from around his neck and resting her head in them. His deep chuckle rumbled through the aisles of the supermarket, causing Natalie to peek through her fingers at him. His face was split into a wild grin.

“I don’t think I was that bad, was I?” He asked, smirking.

Natalie raised her head to look at him, the regret multiplying in her stomach. It was bad enough that she had used this man she barely knew to get back at her ex-boyfriend, but now everything from his hands to his lips to his eyes were smirking at her. Smirking as if to remind her that she had just committed the most embarrassing act in her entire life. Right in the middle of the highly romantic drinks aisle of the supermarket, under the equally romantic fluorescent lighting that whitewashed the entire store.

It was right there that Natalie knew that she needed to get away from this…this…she paused for a moment to come up with an inventive and condescending nickname for the man before her. Mr. Cocky-McGrin-Face. That was it. She needed to get away from Mr. Cocky-McGrin-Face.

“I’m sorry, I have to go.”

Mr. “Cocky-McGrin-Face,” as Natalie had dubbed him, was incredulous as he watched her walk away. Never had the man encountered such a trick, such a tease. To kiss him with such passion with no forewarning what-so-ever and then just walk away? From him?

It was no secret to McGrin-Face that he was gorgeous. It was a common practice of his to describe himself, in his head, as “hot,” “dreamy,” or “smokin’.” The only thing he didn’t realize about himself was just how cocky he was.

Regardless, he was not about to let this mysterious kissing stranger walk away.

Now, the first thing you’ll probably notice is that we now know the main girl’s name, something that was missing in the first passage simply because it didn’t come up. Also notice that transitioning from one person’s thoughts to the other’s becomes a lot smoother. If the author wanted, she could also have staggered the thoughts, switching back and forth between points of view, as long as she did it smoothly. It’s always important to make sure that your writing is easy to understand above everything else.

Second is that it’s easier to insert descriptions of scenery in here. It’s unusual for a character to go off on what the scenery looks like. I mean, the phrase:

The fluorescent light shone down on me as I extracted my arms from his neck.

It could be done, mind you, but I find that a lot of us don’t lean towards that. Instead, when I’m writing in third person, I find myself naturally describing scenery.

That’s all for perspective today! I wanted to cut this post short, so I didn’t go into second person. If you’d like me to, just leave a comment below and I’ll make another post about it.

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4 Comments

Filed under Style

4 responses to “Perspectives (POVs)

  1. Katherine

    Just to let you know that I think this is a great idea however when you fixed her spelling you changed the s in realised to a z. If she is from the UK then it would be spelt the original way. I know it’s confusing but a lot of things are spelt differently in the UK, like colour instead of color or favourite instead of favorite.

    But other than that I like this.

  2. ashleighjanee

    I just wanted to point out that realised is actually a legitimate way to spell realized. Its how we spell it in England 😛

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