How Many Different Angles?

Saturday, November 13, 2010
You've started working on a story idea. How are you going to tell the story? From whose point of view? If you get stuck on how to handle the perspective for your character(s) there can be many ways into figuring out the point of view?
But here's a suggestion to get an idea of how to approach a scene and its point of view. Take out a photograph with several different subjects. Look at the photo as a snapshot of your fictional scene. If you could imagine it as a scene in your writing, even better. (If you don't have a photograph, perhaps you might want to collage the scene from items clipped from magazines.)
What is the action or the conflict of the scene? Think about and determine how would you approach telling the story from each character.
How will does the conflict impact the central character? Then move your view outward. (You could also start with the other characters, but I like to think of the ripple of the actions from the central character and how the minor characters will react to the action.)
Although the minor characters may not carry as much weight as the main character, their reactions might give a good foothold in the scene, giving you an idea of how the main character can or will react to others can help work through the dialogue or tease out more conflict that could be use later.
So, what are the important items that you, as the writer, could pick out from the photograph or collage?
Then consider how will the scene complete itself? Is there a natural finish to the action or an abrupt ending, which might help move the narrative forward.
The photo can help ground a scene, give depth to the scene and help develop the characters.
What are some ways you figure out perspective in your work?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and editor living in coastal North Carolina.


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