Fun Lessons in Point of View

Some helps for mastering this fiction skill.

 by Andy Scheer

A new writer said she had trouble grasping the principles of point of view (POV).

“Just think of it,” I said, “as equaling which person’s senses through which you are experiencing a scene.”

Then I recommended three resources.

I suggested she get from her library any of the Chet & Bernie detective stories by Spencer Quinn. They’re all narrated by Chet, who is not only Bernie’s partner, but also a very large dog. The most recent is Scents and Sensibility, though any of them, like Dog On It, A Fistful of Collars, and Thereby Hangs a Tail, are highly entertaining — as well as instructive in the art of point of view. Chet notices things Bernie doesn’t (like how things smell), but he’s also prone to interpret things literally, as when Bernie mentions a wild goose chase or letting a cat out of the bag.

Then there’s the children’s picture book The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf (as told to Jon Scieszka). If you’ve ever wondered how the choice of a POV character affects a story, read this testimony of Alexander T. Wolf.

Finally, there’s the 2005 animated film Hoodwinked. This comic video presents the story of Little Red Riding Hood as a police investigation, with flashback testimony from four characters: Red, her grandma, the woodsman, and the wolf. As no surprise, each saw the events far differently.

If you’d like a refresher in the importance of fictional point of view — or would simply enjoy some refreshing entertainment — one or all of those will be worth your time.

 

About Andy Scheer

With more than 30 years in publishing, Andy Scheer has provided freelance editorial services since 2010. He has edited fiction and nonfiction for publishers including Moody, WinePress, and BelieversPress, as well as for clients including Dirk Cussler, McNair Wilson, DiAnn Mills, Heather Day Gilbert, and Sammy Tippit.

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