Friday, March 20, 2015

Point of View

Anne sent me something she had written, but I don't want to post it without first doing a little writing lesson about point of view. (She rewrote a scene from Dangerous Decision from Cory's point of view.) It's a great little scene, and I want to encourage you other writers to give it a try.

But without a lesson, it might be confusing on how this sort of writing is accomplished. I looked under the "Let's Write!" tab but couldn't find anything about it. So, here we go.


Stories are not like TV shows. In a TV show or a movie like Narnia, first we see what’s happening with Lucy and the wardrobe, then we switch scenes to the White Witch and Edmund, and then we jump to the enemy camp or Aslan or the girls. Many adult books switch points of view (POV), but it is difficult for young authors to keep the story straight for their readers if they jump around between characters.

The old saying, “Meanwhile, back at the ranch,” doesn’t work well in most stories. It’s best to follow your main character around. If he stays on the ship, keep your reader there. If he goes back to the ranch, then go with him. Don’t leave him trapped at the bottom of the sea while you tell the story from another character’s viewpoint.

Writer’s Hint
Decide who your main character is, and tell the entire story from his or her (or its) point of view. If you must change points of view, do it with a new chapter or with a scene break. Never mix viewpoints in the same scene!

To help you understand what this means, read the following scene, which has been written TWICE—once from the main character's (Andi's) point of view, and the second time around from her older brother’s point of view.

#1-  Without warning, the enormous animal reared up and screamed a challenge . . . Andi’s mind shouted, Jump down! But she couldn’t move. Her arms and legs were frozen with fear . . . An instant later, she found herself flying backward through the air. She landed in the dust with a painful thud and heard a tremendous crack. The stallion’s hooves connected with the corral fence and brought it tumbling down.
        Andi lay on the ground a few yards from the corral and tried to catch her breath . . . She had no idea how she’d managed to escape . . . She glanced around the yard. It was suddenly alive with activity . . .
        A shadow fell across her, and Andi looked up. Chad towered over her, hands on his hips, glaring. She had never seen her brother so furious…. “What were you doing?” he bellowed. “You could have been killed!”

~From Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home

In the first example, we see, hear, feel, and think only what Andi is seeing, hearing, feeling, or thinking. She doesn’t see her brother sneaking up behind her to rescue her, so the reader shouldn’t see him, either.

Now read the same scene from Chad's point of view:

#2- Chad rounded the corner of the barn and stopped short. To his horror, his youngest sister sat boldly atop the corral fence, her hand outstretched for that monster horse to take a bite. He opened his mouth to shout a warning then quickly clamped his jaw shut. There was no telling how the stallion would react to the noise.
      Slowly, so as not to startle the horse, he crept closer and closer to the pair. Then, without warning, the stallion reared up. Chad leaped for Andi, grasped the back of her overalls, and gave her a toss. She tumbled to the ground a safe distance from the corral.
Chad stood over her, breathing hard. His fear exploded into outrage when he saw her safe and sound. “What were you doing?” he bellowed. “You could have been killed!”

Sometimes it can be a lot of fun (and it's good practice) to choose a different, secondary character from a story and go into their heads for a change. In face, in the new CCMilestones book I'm working on, I just had to do a scene break and write a little bit--just a few paragraphs from Chad's point of view. *I just had too!* It will be interesting to see if anyone catches that when The Last Ride comes out next winter. I set it off and put it at the very end of the chapter. I think it's necessary; let's hope my editor agrees. 

But for now, go ahead and find a favorite scene from any book. Pick a different character and write the scene from their point of view. Hint: If you choose an Andi book, no need to copy the original scene. We'll all know what it was. However, if you choose a scene from a different book, please first copy and paste the original scene before you choose another point of view, so we can have a frame of reference. 

Tomorrow I'll post Anne's scene from Cory's POV. The next day I have a fan story from "Andrea" to post. After that, if anyone wants to write POV scenes, I'll post a bunch. (It's hard to write it in a comment without it going on forever. It's better to use the Blogger Contact Form and just send it that way for me to post in a regular blog post). 

Happy writing! 



  1. Thanks Mrs. M! I like writing from different POV's!! Because the characters are always different, in their personalities,how they talk..etc..


  2. Staying with a primary POV is rather difficult for me. Thanks for posting this, I needed it!

  3. Sounds like fun! Maybe I will have to do one.... :)

  4. I am already enjoying all of your writing tips! Thank you Mrs. M! -Anita S.


Let Andi know what you think!