September 6, 2013

P. O. V.

Dear M,

I've been thinking about P.O.Vs - (I am always thinking about something or the other related to writing, I wonder if that is even normal? How much obsession is healthy?)


Point-of-View is a very well-researched and well-studied and well-discussed topic (like everything else). I am sure I have nothing new to add to the countless articles we find on the Internet (like everything else). But when did that stop anyone from pouring out their opinions (well, like in everything else)?

There is clearly no rule to what your point of view should be. It could be a first person account or a third person narrative (one-sided or global), or switching between more than one first person accounts, and apparently a story can also be written in the second person. Whichever confuses the reader the least.

But I think the P.O.V is not something we should decide in a hurry. Most first time writers prefer the first person voice. Something to do with seeing themselves in the shoes of the protagonist, explaining what goes on in one's own head is easier and simpler that getting into the skin of another person, etc. But mainly because, for most writers, their first novel is an extension of their own life. There will be autobiographical elements concealed deep within the story (however much we tend to deny it). It is easier to show it through our own eyes because we know how exactly it was.

But it is important to experiment with different P.O.Vs. Once we find our "author's voice", it will be easier to explain through another's eyes or as a bystander or a sootradhar who runs the show. When we get the P.O.V right, we know.

I think I have told you before about a short story I had been writing. Everything was clear, except when I wrote it, I didn't like it. One should always feel proud of the words one has written. When you come back to it after a week, if it feels yucky, then it probably is yucky. In this case, the story snippet was yucky. I put it aside.

Much, much later when I was watching a movie it came in a rush. The story was not to be seen through the eyes of the mother or anyone else. It had to be the daughter, the little girl. She was the crux of the story. Though not strictly first person, because it would be too confusing. But the story revolved around her. It was so clear, so very clear, that the only thing left for me to do was write it. It was over in no time.

P.O.V is something we decide based on our gut feeling, nothing else. We may need to experiment with different styles to get a taste of it. So that when the time comes, we can easily switch the role and enter the skin, dressed up in whichever role we are required to be in. Pretty much like acting, don't you think?


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