What perspective do you take?

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Thread: What perspective do you take?

  1. #1

    What perspective do you take?

    What perspective do you take when you read?

    I mean, the obvious is camera, where you are watching the scene like it's a movie.

    When there's a focal character, I get close to the focal character, but I don't know how to describe it. That can be even in third person past.

    Then there's first person present, which I would very much like to hear from people who don't like it. That you are the main character? That you are seeing the story from the character's eyes?

    And sometimes a book forces me to see it as the character narrating.
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  2. #2
    What perspective do you take when you read?
    I like stories where I can gain perspective right away, where I feel I will KNOW a character by reading on. If they initially display actions or feelings that I can understand or relate to, whether I like them or not, that is where it all begins for me. It is always a shake up when a character I feel I know, does something unexpected and I'm no longer in a position of being able to tell how they are going to act next, how they feel. But I love that too. the surprise, the tension.

    Then there's first person present, which I would very much like to hear from people who don't like it. That you are the main character? That you are seeing the story from the character's eyes?
    I think this is an exhausting way to write, but I do like writing in first person myself (just not present tense). When I read such writing, I feel as if I am being told a story, or about an event, that is more direct, more honest. Even though it is limiting in gauging the emotions and thoughts of others in the story, (i.e. I feel this way, but I imagine my mother is angry at me over this) - it is easy to pick up on who the main character really is, their inner thoughts, their motivations for actions. Like if you were writing first person, and your MC was a murderer, you would gain insight into his or her mindset, but not know specifically how others in their circle feel about them, except as how he or she described them.

    I can't say that I don't like first person present because I haven't actually read that much with that perspective. I think, if written well, it could be very interesting - but again, sort of one-sided. I think it would be a challenge to write an entire story or book in first person present.

    Good question, Emma.
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    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    No, I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.


  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    What perspective do you take when you read?

    I mean, the obvious is camera, where you are watching the scene like it's a movie.
    This would usually be Third Person Omniscient or potentially Third Person Objective?


    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    When there's a focal character, I get close to the focal character, but I don't know how to describe it. That can be even in third person past.
    Third person Intimate?

    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    Then there's first person present, which I would very much like to hear from people who don't like it. That you are the main character? That you are seeing the story from the character's eyes?

    And sometimes a book forces me to see it as the character narrating.
    I do use FP Present but sparingly.

    The main problem I have with anything present-tense is, firstly, it tends to create tension in a scene. That can be really effective, it can also be vastly inappropriate, especially if one wants to blend action with passages of background. It injects an immediacy to a scene that can be difficult to slow down.

    Secondly, that immediacy often leads to it feeling like a sports commentator: "I go upstairs. I turn and look down the hallway to where the door is. I start to walk toward the door, anger beginning to rise." It's powerful, but it's almost too intimate. There's no space in that kind of narrative for regarding anything other than what is actually happening in fairly brutal, physical terms.

    It's important to be close to a character, but readers don't want a play-by-play. You can get too closely to a single character, to the point where you can no longer, as a reader, see the forest for the trees. Some stories need intimacy, others don't.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

  4. #4
    Mentor Dluuni's Avatar
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    Transpire is in alternating first person past tense. I've gotten a lot of feedback leaning towards first person deep voice in my writing.
    D. K. is alternating second person present tense with short epistolary chat history pieces. The character has a painfully tight narrative distance, her own body is a bit external to her and she can't really conceive of a future, so she wouldn't speak from it.
    I might try third person for Aardvark, but I haven't decided yet.

  5. #5
    Mentor Megan Pearson's Avatar
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    Interesting question. I think I prefer reading third person omniscient, like Tolkien, but when writing I prefer ... (sorry, words fail me) It's where it's still third person, but the scene's perspective is strictly through one character (whichever character is important for that scene).

    What's that called, technically speaking?
    "A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."
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  6. #6
    I take the perspective of, READER. The author determines everything else. If her choices don't connect with me as a READER, I put the book down. I might, while reading, slip from READER mode to WRITER mode and that can be a good thing, or bad. If the author does something remarkable with their writing -- special turn of phrase, or an outstanding bit of dialogue -- I can be pulled out of the story to admire it. That's a good thing. If, on the other hand, I'm noticing blatantly bad writing, either unskilled, or overwrought, or pretentious that's a bad thing. I don't choose how I'm going to approach reading a book, that's bias. I just read it and let the author do their job -- or not.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Megan Pearson View Post

    What's that called, technically speaking?
    Third person limited?

  8. #8
    Whatever feels right. I am a floozy who will quite happily use anything to make my words come alive on the page.

  9. #9
    I think the author cannot control the reader's perspective.

    We can try. Maybe we should think more about how to do that.

    So here I am, upside down in a woman....My eyes close nostalgically when I remember... (Nutshell, McEwen, start)
    I don't know what the author intended, but that's first person present tense and yet I take a camera view. Perhaps because the author is providing a description from a distance. (The main character is a fetus, that wasn't clear to me on first reading.)
    How to write a good start: Hidden Content . Useful, original information. Long and thorough.
    Includes Hidden Content (do you start with description?), Hidden Content (a favorite with publishers apparently), starting with Hidden Content (a lost art), and more.

  10. #10
    i actually prefer 1st person past tense. most writers reserve it mainly for short stories, as i did, until i started the novel i'm working on now.
    i'm trying something different in this novel and alternating 1st person narrators inbetween "parts". it's helped me because writing in 1st person
    is much like "method acting" where you have to become someone else in your mind while writing. so every 10,000 words give or take, i switch
    the narrator just to give me a break from staying in that 1 characters head for too long. it helps me keep the flow fresh.
    "Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe.”

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