Before starting to write any piece, it’s important to consider the point of view, or POV, you will use. Will you write from first person? Completely inside one characters head? Or maybe you want to focus on more than one character, in which case you might choose a third person POV.
Before you decide, try this writing exercise. You can do this with your main character in mind, or you can do it with yourself if you just want to play around with POV and discover how altering the POV impacts a narrative.
The hilarious little book, I am neurotic (and so are you), is a compilation of people’s random, neurotic habits. The author also hosts a blog which lists people’s neuroses. They’re pretty funny. I shared these with my own neurotic high school students, and we made our own personal weirdness lists. I’ll share some examples which they shared during this exercise:
- When I put money in my wallet, I have to make sure all the bills are facing the same way, so none of the president’s are kissing. I CAN’T have them kissing. Blech!
- When I eat Skittles or any other colored candy, I sort them into pretty and ugly colors. I have to eat the ugly ones first, so I can savor the pretty ones. Somehow pretty tastes better.
- Before I brush my teeth, I must rip off a perfect square of toilet paper and wipe away the first bit of toothpaste from the tube. It’s contaminated, and I can’t put it in my mouth. There was no explanation as to why the toilet paper had to be a perfect square. It just did.
Needless to say, by the end of this exercise, we all realized that on some level, everyone is neurotic and weird!
Here’s the writing exercise.
- First, make a list of at least five of your own neuroses, or if you are an amazingly stable and well adjusted person who has none (even though we don’t believe you), list at least five for your current protagonist.
- Second, choose one neurotic behavior off of your list. Write about it from the first person perspective. Share why each step of your neurotic process is important. Perhaps include the back story which compels you to this odd behavior. Write for at least five to ten minutes.
- Third, take that same neurotic behavior and describe it from a third person POV in which you will have a narrator observe and describe the behavior. You can choose close 3rd person in which the narrator is in the character’s mind, or you can choose a distant 3rd person narrator who is merely observing and possibly commenting on the behavior. Again, write for at least five to ten minutes.
Finally, compare the selections. Which one do you like better? Why? Which one is your favorite? Why do you like it? Did you make any discoveries about POV?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.