See more Let’s Write writing tips in Andi’s Attic >>
Many fans love to rewrite stories from another character’s point of view. For instance, in 2015, “Anne” rewrote a scene from Dangerous Decision from Cory’s point of view. Other readers have rewritten familiar scenes from Riley’s point of view or Kate’s or any number of characters.
So, what does this mean . . . “point of view”?
Stories are not like TV shows. In a TV show or a movie like Narnia, first we see what’s happening with Lucy and the wardrobe, then we switch scenes to the White Witch and Edmund, and then we jump to the enemy camp or Aslan or the girls. Many adult books switch points of view (POV), but it is difficult for young authors to keep the story straight for their readers if they jump around between characters.
The old saying, “Meanwhile, back at the ranch,” doesn’t work well in most stories. It’s best to follow your main character around. If he stays on the ship, keep your reader there. If he goes back to the ranch, then go with him. Don’t leave him trapped at the bottom of the sea while you tell the story from another character’s viewpoint.
Decide who your main character is, and tell the entire story from his or her (or its) point of view. If you feel you must change points of view, do it with a new chapter or with a scene break. Never mix viewpoints in the same scene! This is called “head hopping.” Not only does it confuse the reader, but it is the mark of a beginning writer.
To help you understand what this means, read the following scene, which has been written twice—once from the main character’s (Andi’s) point of view, and the second time around from her older brother’s point of view.
Andi’s point of view
Without warning, the stallion reared up and whinnied a challenge. The blood drained from Andi’s face. Jump down! her mind screamed, but she couldn’t move. Her arms and legs were frozen in fear. She choked back a cry and watched in horror as the stallion’s huge black hooves bore down on her.
An instant later, Andi found herself flying backward through the air. She landed on the ground with a painful thud and heard a tremendous crack. The stallion’s hooves connected with the corral fence and brought it crashing down.
Andi lay on the ground a few yards from the corral and tried to catch her breath. She was shaking so badly, she couldn’t even sit up. She had no idea how she’d manage to escape. Had the stallion kicked her off the fence? She glanced around the yard, which had suddenly come alive with activity. Ranch hand appeared from nowhere.
A shadow fell across Andi. She looked up. Chad towered over her, hands on his hips, glaring. She had never seen her brother so furious. His face was dark with anger, and his eyes were chips of blue ice.
“What were you doing?” he bellowed. “You could have been killed!” ~From Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home
In the first example, we see, hear, feel, and think only what Andi is seeing, hearing, feeling, or thinking. She doesn’t see her brother sneaking up behind her to rescue her, so the reader shouldn’t see him, either. Now read the same scene from Chad’s point of view:
Chad’s point of view
Chad rounded the corner of the barn and stopped short. What in the world? To his horror, his youngest sister sat boldly atop the corral fence. Her hand was stretched out for that monster horse to take a bite. Of all the stupid, outrageous—
He opened his mouth to shout a warning, then quickly clamped his jaw shut. There was no telling how the stallion would react to his yelling. The horse was only inches from Andi.
Slowly, so as not to startle the horse, Chad crept closer to the pair. No sudden moves, he told himself. Stay calm. His heart thudded against the inside of his chest.
Then without warning, the stallion reared up and whinnied. Chad lunged for Andi, grabbed the back of her overalls, and gave her a toss. She tumbled to the ground a safe distance away from the corral. Crack! The railing splintered.
Chad turned away from the corral and stood over Andi, breathing hard. His fear exploded into outrage when he saw her safe and sound. “What were you doing?” he bellowed. “You could have been killed!”
Point of View Scenes Examples
Check out these well-written examples of different points of view. Fans took a familiar scene from the books rewrote it from another character’s point of view for an entirely fresh feel. I love them!
Go to the Point of View Scenes page >>
If you have a scene you have written from a different character’s point of view, send it to me Contact Page >>
Go to the next tip, #9, indenting and dialogue >>
3 thoughts on “#8-Point of View”
Excellent instruction. “Head-hopping” in the same scene leaves readers wondering whose story it really is. A simple hint on how to choose POV. “What character has the most to gain or lose?”
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I seem to remember a blog post with information about some of the more common jobs that would be available during Andi’s time. Is that on this blog or the old one?
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