Friday, November 1, 2013

Prompt: Finding the right point of view

Point of view, or the narrative “voice” is hard for me. I tend to jump from one character to another to the omniscient narrator at the drop of a participle. Often, the main character isn’t the one I start off thinking it is. Or I start off in a secondary character’s POV in purpose, so through them the reader can observe the main character, but then I want to include the main character’s thoughts or feelings.

One way I’ve found to address this is to write in first person. It really helps to keep me in the “head” of the narrator, without hopping or becoming omniscient. I may shift to 3rd person in subsequent drafts, but it’s a useful tool.

Just for fun, over the next few days I’m going to share the 1st three voices of a new story that I think I’m really going to enjoy working on. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.

Frank’s POV

I zip up my jacket as I walk out the side door at St. Joe’s. It’s already dark, and the wind has picked up – definitely fall weather. As I head toward the bus stop, a low moan stops me in my tracks. Did I imagine it? No, there it is again, in the alley. I look around – of course there’s no one out this time of night. I pull out my keyring and shine the little flashlight Jenny gave me last Christmas. Aww, man, there’s an arm. A bloody arm. I shoke my head and run in.

It’s a woman, and she’s a mess. I’m afraid to move her, but I don’t want to wait out here until an ambulance can make it over – what, three hundred yards? Who knows how long it would take them to get here? She’s barely conscious, rolling her head toward me as I kneel beside her.

“Ma’am? Ma’am? Can you move? You’re right outside the hospital. I can help you get up and carry you over there faster than if we wait for help.” I decide her head roll means a yes. She hasn’t opened her eyes, but I can tell she’s trying to sit up. I reach around her shoulder, and she stiffens. I pause.

“Hey, I’m just trying to help you. It’s gonna be okay.” I thought about my ambulance ride alongs and what they tell folks when they’re moving them – handling them. “Look, I’m putting my arm behind you to help you get up, okay?” She didn’t exactly relax, but she leaned forward a little, so I pushed and pulled and got her standing.

Jeez, if she could stand up straight, she’d be as tall as I am. I’ve got my arm under her shoulder and she’s leaning against me with all her weight. I’m wondering if this was such a good idea. That hospital entrance suddenly seems awfully far away. She takes a step and her leg buckles under her. I dunno what happens, but before I can think about it, I sweep my arm down behind her knees and lift her up.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to think I’m in pretty good shape, but I don’t lift weights or anything, and she’s no little thing. Adrenaline, I tell myself as I head for the door. She passes out and her head drops back against my arm. I glance down and almost stumble. I don’t know what shocks me more – how beautiful she is, or how many bleeding wounds I can see just on her face and throat.

Dogs in house
Houdini, Brindle

Time writing:
 ~25 minutes

October word count:


  1. Prompt: Finding the right point of view

    Telia stopped on the garden path. Reesa was on her hands and knees, crawling to and fro, occasionally leaning her chin on the ground.

    “What are you doing?” Telia said. Rumour had it that Reesa had been picked to coordinate the solstice show, quite an honour for a mage-trainee – an honour that Telia, a full mage, had never yet had. Perhaps the stress had become too much? Telia suppressed a brief flash of vindication at the thought; Reesa was a talented artist, and Telia knew her skills tended to the far more practical. It would be nice to try her hand at something creative, though, occasionally.

    Reesa lept to her feet and ineffectually brushed at the dirt down the front of her skirt. “Um. Checking the point of view.”

    “For...?” Telia said, leadingly.

    Reesa opened her mouth, then shut it abruptly. “I can’t really say.” She backed two steps, then turned and walked off.

    Something kept Telia from calling after the trainee for her rudeness. She knelt and touched the path where Reesa had been kneeling.

    Time writing: 20 min

    1. Very nice *nodding* Good characterization of Telia. Good world-building touches, too. What *was* Reesa doing down there?