Tonight, our Writing A Novel students are in for their third evening session, where they’ll be thinking about Point Of View.
Choosing a narrator for a novel is one of the most important decisions of the process. Telling a story in first-, second- or third-person can make all the difference, and that’s before we even start thinking about omniscience. And what if you add more than one perspective into the mix?
Here are a couple of exercises to get you thinking about your own novel and its narration.
- Take a short scene (250-500 words) featuring a single character from your work in progress. If you’ve been writing in first-person, try switching to third; if you’re writing in third-person, give the character’s own voice a whirl.
- Now think about the closeness of your narration. If you’ve been working in third-person, think about what your narrator knows – is it only what the character does, or do they have more information? And if you’re working in first-person, how exposed are we to the character’s thoughts and feelings? How honest are they being – do we get a sense that this is the whole story, or that something is being held back?
- Finally, have a go at switching tenses – from past to present, or vice-versa. Which works best with which mode of narration? What different things do you learn about the character and the plot from each combination?