Point of View

Who does this story belong to?  Who is telling this story, and why?

The answer to this question is considered point of view. As the term suggests, point of view is the perch the writer provides for the reader to see into the heart of the story. If someone is in a car crash, you could tell the story from the point of the view of the poor crash victim, her distraught mother, her boyfriend, the doctor in the emergency room, the medical student on call – each one would have a different perspective or point of view, on the story. The narrator or teller of the story may stand within the story or outside it, narrating as it occurs, shortly after, or much later, providing in each instance a different narrative perspective in space and time. The reader sees the story through a narrative perspective close to the events or removed from them by various kinds and degrees of distance, examining, as it were, with a microscope, binoculars or telescope.

First Person Narration: from inside the story. The author creates a persona or mask through which the authors tells the story. In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain adopts the persona of Huck, who narrates the story. The author is bound by the conditions of the persona (frame of mind, education, attitudes etc) presenting only knowledge available to this persona, within the limits of the persona’s understanding, and expressed in terms appropriate to the persona’s personality and vocabulary.First person narration typically takes the form of journals, diary entries or letters.

Third Person Narration: from outside the story. The omniscient narrator is a god-like informing intelligence to everyone in the story at all times. This approach sends the reader further above the story’s events and characters than any other form of narration.

The Reader’s Questions

The Reader’s Questions:

Who is telling this story and why?

Who does this story belong to?

Who am I with as the story opens?

Why does the story begin at this moment in the chracter’s/characters’ live/lives?

Where am I as the story opens?

What are the physical features of this place, what do I see?

What action is taking place?

When – at what time of day, what time of year, in what part of life is this story unfolding?

What’s at stake for the main character?

What does/do the character(s) want? What stands between him and him/her/them and what they want?

What do they fear? What is pushing them into contact with the feared object?

Putting yourself in the reader’s place and thinking your way through these questions can help you to establish the frame and basic outline of your narrative.