Viewpoint, or Point of View (POV) has two categories and multiple ways to be employed.
Viewpoint can be how your character sees the world.
Cyrus wasn’t afraid. Not really. He just got nervous when people accosted him. His hands would shake, and his scalp would sweat. But, no, it wasn’t fear. He knew himself. Trusted himself to be brave in the face of hostile people. No fear. So, he knew that when he was startled by the school bully it wasn’t fear. No sir. He had been concentrating. Yeah. That was why he jumped.
Or, Belinda looked at the faces staring up at her as she stood on the stage. She could feel the love pouring from them, and it was all directed at her. They were open, caring, and supportive. In a moment, when she grasped the microphone and began to sing, she knew that they would be hers forever.
The other type of viewpoint is narration, and yes, I know you know the difference, but it is always good to make distinctions.
Narrator viewpoint has a number of “versions”, for example:
- The Objective Viewpoint. This is where the narrator “stands” outside of the characters at all times. It is as though the narrator was a journalist.
- The Modified Objective Viewpoint. Here the narrator, while not claiming to know the inner workings of the characters, makes “guesses” about drive, motive.
- The First-Person Subjective Viewpoint. The narrator is the main character, and is the only one the narrator. Think of a letter-writer relating a story.
- The Omniscient Viewpoint. God-like, the narrator knows with certainty what is going on in the heads of all characters. This is tricky, as not allowing the reader to guess the motives of some characters robs suspense from the story in many cases.
- The Limited Omniscient Viewpoint. Even trickier than Omniscient, Limited Omniscient gives the narrator insight in to multiple, but not all characters in a story. On the plus side, this form allows the reader a sort of intimate knowledge of more than one character.
If you look around you will no doubt find variations on the above themes—sub-variations, at least—but the challenge for today is to identify which of these POVs you commonly use, and to write a short piece in one that you seldom, or never use.
If nothing else, our daily challenges are designed to lift us out certain habits—dare I say, ruts?—and to force ourselves to try on new techniques.
It is like going into a donut shop and always choosing glazed because you’ve never considered jelly or custard. You may not know you have a real talent for other writing formats until you’ve given them a decent test-drive. (…to mix metaphors.)
If you are an Omnicient Viewpoint writer, try first person subjective. If you write like a 1950s detective, try Limited Omniscient. Have you ever considered writing a story as though it was a letter to a friend? Ever considered very personal stream of conciousness?
Experimentation is the key to widening your horizons.