Tag Archives: point of view

The Antagonist Point of View

When you’re reading a novel, you notice that the story is told from different points of view. Sometimes you know what characters think, sometimes only one, sometimes many, and sometimes none at all. Often, you get to see the story from both sides, the protagonist’s and the antagonist’s. Sometimes, you only follow the protagonist.

In many stories, knowing what the antagonist thinks is beneficial to the story. It gives you a better understanding of their motivations, and helps you sympathise or hate them.

If you only follow the protagonist, you only know what they think of the antagonist. Your opinion is based on theirs.

I’ve read both kinds of books. I find that depending on the story, they are both appropriate. But do you have a preference? Which do you like to read? Also, if you write, how do you decide whether to show the antagonist’s point of view or not? Let me know in the comments below.

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Authors Answer 29 – Tapping the Inner Child

There are many books from the point of view or featuring children and teenagers.  But children and teenagers don’t write those books. Adults do. This week’s question comes from aclmohle.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 29: How do adult authors write from the point of view of children/teenagers so well?

Paul B. Spence

You’re assuming that they do write well from that viewpoint, which I haven’t seen be the case, most of the time. However, at least you can say, well, they were kids once, right?

S. R. Carrillo

I think it’s all a matter of remembering, very well, even while realizing how ridiculous it all was, the experience of being younger, feeling trapped, thinking you know everything, fancying yourself invincible… It’s easy to tell when an adult is trying too hard – recall the shittiness and freedom of being a teenager to write like one well. Otherwise… it’ll show.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

This question actually surprised me a bit because, honestly, I find that many authors do a terrible job of writing from the point of view of younger generations. Maybe I just haven’t read the right books, but I find that a lot of time you can tell that an author doesn’t remember what being a kid or teenager was actually like.

And that’s the key, I think, to being able to successfully write a character from a younger generation. You have to be able to genuinely remember what it was like. For instance, I was teased a lot as a kid, and I can still recall how much that bothered me, even though I constantly tried to tell myself it didn’t. I remember how obsessed I could get with a certain actor or a particular TV show. I can remember the relief of seeing a good grade on a test, the heart-pounding terror of talking to a crush, the strange, insistent belief that I was fat and ugly even though I was truly neither. A lot of people block that stuff out or forget about it as they “grow up”, but I’m one of those people who managed to get more mature while not really “growing up” at all, and I think that’s how you have to be in order to accurately write a kid or teen. Although, since I’ve never really written a kid character, you’ll have to take my word for it. 😛

D. T. Nova

Everyone was a child once, so I think that when it comes to writing characters different from ourselves, there are other differences that could be more of a challenge than adults writing children.

But additionally, two traits that are very good for writers in general are imagination (which is often considered childlike) and a good memory.

Jean Davis

Adult authors were once children and then angsty teenagers. We remember what it was like, what we wanted, what we were scared of and how we felt about others. Those of us who have children or are close to someone else’s children, get a refresher course in all those things. We spend much of our day worrying about them, picking up after them, nagging, caring for, feeding… yeah, they should earn their keep a little by providing some fodder for our fiction.

Caren Rich

Writing from the perspective of children requires the author to put himself in the position of the child.  It helps to have children around to see how they react to the world, but I imagine the same can be done by remembering their childhood.  There are a few, rare people who have never grown up.  It’s easy for them to take on the roll of a child. The hardest thing would be to balance the illusion we have of children with the reality.  They are much smarter than most people give them credit for.

Amy Morris-Jones

I can’t speak for other authors, but I think there’s a part of me who will always be an awkward teenager. Even as an adult, I’ve experienced moments of discomfort and wanted to fit in better—which is what I remember so well from those teen years. It doesn’t take much to channel that!

Elizabeth Rhodes

We were all teenagers once, weren’t we?  And some authors have teenage children of their own.  I don’t have that luxury (or curse, depending on your view) but thanks to the internet authors in the future will be able to see how they thought and behaved as teens.

H. Anthe Davis

I don’t know how well I do it, but I try.  For younger characters, I’ve looked up the stages of children’s mental and emotional development and then tried to pitch the character’s ‘voice’ to that level; I also bother my friends who have children, because I don’t, so therefore I don’t know how capable kids are at certain ages.  When it comes to teens, I try to remember being one — heh — and also to remember how my friends, brother and cousins acted at that age.  The brain isn’t finished forming until 25 or so, so at some stages teens are operating at a cognitive deficit while their brains are furiously rewiring.  It’s an interesting subject of study.

Jay Dee Archer

First of all, I don’t think all authors write from the point of view of children or teenagers well.  The problem is that they are adults, and they’re thinking like adults too much. They make the teenagers and children think like adults. Some teenagers do think like adults, which is okay, but for children, it’s very unrealistic.

With that said, those who do write from this point of view either have a good memory of their own childhood or they’re very observant. I have a three-year-old daughter, so I understand how she behaves at this stage of her life, so I think I can be pretty confident about the behaviour and language ability of that age. But what goes on in her mind? How does she think? That’s another matter.  I have a good memory of what being a teenager was like. I can remember what being ten was like. But the earlier I go, the more difficult it is.

For someone who has had little contact with children, I don’t think they’d do very well. But for those who have children, they have an advantage. It all comes down to experience and memory, I think.

How about you?

Why do you think some authors can write from the point of view of children and teenagers well? What’s their secret? Let us know in the comments below.

Authors Answer 23 – Point of View

I’m eating bacon.

You’re eating bacon.

He’s eating bacon.

I ate bacon.

You ate bacon.

He ate bacon.

Point of view is a choice every author must make before writing a story.  Which is best for the story? Which is best for the author?  Some authors feel more comfortable using one point of view over the others.  First, second, and third person point of view exist in books, though second person is not common.  Present and past tense are both common, though past is more traditional.  And then there’s the level of omniscience.  We have objective, with no knowledge of a character’s thoughts. We have subjective, with knowledge of one person’s thoughts in each scene, and can switch characters.  This is also like limited omniscient.  And then there’s omniscient where you know everyone’s thoughts at all times.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 23: What is your favourite point of view and tense to write in? Why?

Linda G. Hill

It depends on the story. I’ll sometimes write a short story in first person and less often write in present tense, but if the tale calls for it, I do it with flavour. I love writing voices completely different from mine and first person present tense is the best way. Most of my novels have been written in third person omniscient, jumping from one character’s head to the next but only when there’s a change of scenes. Again, I love to get into my character’s heads and I don’t want to be tied to only one perspective. As for tense, I’d never attempt to write in present tense throughout an entire novel. I get exhausted being in my own head in the present…

Caren Rich

I like third person, present tense. I know original. It allows a little distance and more freedom than first person.  I’ve tried writing in first person, but I feel like I’m spilling secrets.

D. T. Nova

Third person, limited but not always sticking with same character, past tense. The fact that the vast majority of what I read before I started writing was that way is certainly one major reason.

I’ve read enough present tense stories that it doesn’t feel quite as weird anymore, but it still doesn’t really make sense to me; in print, at least, you have a tangible reminder that events after the part you’re currently reading have already been written.

Amy Morris-Jones

I don’t play favorites—at least I haven’t thus far. I would say I’m not much of a fan of second-person narratives, so I avoid those. I also tend to stay away from the future tense—too beyond my comfort zone. Otherwise, though, I’ve written in first person and third, past and present quite regularly.

Jean Davis

I like first person most. Getting lost in the character makes much easier for me to block out distractions that would otherwise compete with my writing time. Present tense is often distracting to read and I’m not fond of writing it so I tend to stick with past tense.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I like writing in third person limited, past tense.  It’s common in fiction, meaning it’s approachable.  It also gives me the opportunity to present the story from multiple points of view from scene to scene, and communicating that clearly to the reader.  The climax of Jasper is told from two specific points of view from people on opposing sides, at roughly the same time.  It’s one of my favorite scenes.

H. Anthe Davis

I generally do third person past tense.  More specifically, I have what I call an over-the-shoulder-camera style, where we’re in one character’s head consistently but that character does not narrate.  I switch POVs, but only between scenes — one of my major pet-peeves is head-hopping within a scene.  Ughhh.  I also try to stick by a rule of POV-contagion — a character can’t become a POV character until they’ve already been in a scene, so no new perspectives out of nowhere.  I have enough characters running around in this series without throwing someone in cold.

All that being said, I am considering a first-person-past-tense story for a certain character — but that remains to be seen.

Paul B. Spence

I prefer to write third person, past tense. I feel that it gives me the most control over the narrative. I do also like first person, past tense, for the intimate feel.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Personally, I prefer third-person omniscient and past-tense.

When dealing with point of view I like third-person omniscient the best because it allows you to easily hop from character to character when necessary. I don’t mind reading other points of view, but when dealing with something like first person, for instance, it bothers me immensely when the story begins to follow other characters apart from the main one. How does he/she know what’s happening when he/she isn’t around? It just makes me grind my teeth.

As for the past-tense part, I just feel like it makes for better storytelling. I’ve read lots of stories that were written in present-tense, and some of them were pretty damn good, but I just always have this nagging image of the main character talking out loud to him/herself, describing everything that’s happening as it’s happening, and that image is annoying to me. I prefer the idea of someone sitting by a campfire, relaying the details of a tale that’s already occurred.

S. R. Carrillo

I have this unflagging desire to always write in limited third person past tense. It comes naturally to me. I’m not saying this is true of authors who do this, but I feel like first person (past or present) comes across as very amateurish.

Jay Dee Archer

I prefer third person limited, past tense.  It’s what I’m used to, and I feel more comfortable writing that way.  I’m not a fan of present tense at all.  I don’t feel it’s natural to read.  I don’t particularly like first person unless it’s done very well when I’m reading, and I really don’t like telling a story from the point of view of only one character.  I like exploring more than one character in a story.  Omniscient point of view is too intrusive and too god-like.  I’d prefer to be in the thoughts of only one person at a time.  So, I like limited omniscience.  I write what I like to read.

How about you?

What do you like to read or write? Which point of view and tense? Leave your responses in the comments below.

Discussion: My Book Preferences

As promised, I’m now giving my answers to the three questions I posted over the past fifteen hours.  You’re still welcome to answer the questions, of course.

What length of books do you prefer to read?

I’ll read any, to be honest.  It really depends on the book, too.  Some need to be long, others need to be short.  I’ve read books more than a thousand pages long, and they really did need it.  They’re quite epic stories.  Others are short, and they were satisfying, too.

Which do you prefer, read paper books, eBooks, or listen to audio books?

I love paper books.  I love the feeling of paper, and I just love having the physical book in my hand.  With paper books, I know exactly where I am in the book and how much more I have to read.  I can tell that with eBooks, but with paper books, I have a physical idea of how much there is.  I also do read eBooks, but only when I can’t read a paper book.  I prefer to read paper books, but I’ll read newer authors in electronic form.  As for audio books, I don’t have any interest in them.

When you read a novel, do you prefer first or third person point of view?

Definitely third person.  I feel that it’s more versatile, and you get to see more than you would in first person.  There are some really good first person novels out there. Some of Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos does a great job at combining first and third person.  But I feel more comfortable being a passive observer than I do being inside the head of a single character and reading everything as “I.”

If you want to answer the questions and join in the discussions, click on the questions above.

Thanks for reading my 900th blog post!

Fight Scene Point of View

I’m currently reading The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons, and I’m getting closer to the end.  This book has been taking me a long time to read.  It’s a dense book.  In this book, as with Endymion, the title character is the narrator.  In scenes involving him, it’s in first person point of view, while it’s in third person when it doesn’t involve him.  However, there are some scenes that take present tense, which is explained by Raul Endymion in the book as he directly addresses the reader.  It’s a rather interesting style of writing, which I’ll touch upon when I write the review.

Now, I read a fight scene in the book tonight, and I was blown away with how intense it was.  First person point of view in present tense gives it an incredible sense of being there.  I’ve previously read a novella which used this same POV and tense, but it didn’t work for me.  However, in The Rise of Endymion, it’s working remarkably well.  I just loved the fight scene.  I felt drawn into the battle, like I was a part of Raul Endymion.  I became him.  How did Simmons do that so well?

Most novels I read are in third person point of view using past tense.  That’s how I write, as well.  But sometimes, first person is very effective, and if done correctly, present tense can make you a part of the story.

Have you read any novels that use both first person and present tense effectively?

Inside the Character’s Head

The narrative is a very important part of a novel for obvious reasons.  If there were no narrative, it would be like a script for a play or movie.  But what happens in the narrative is mostly a description of the action, the setting, the people, and also their thoughts.  It’s the thoughts that I find difficult to create a good balance.

As I’ve been reading novels, I’ve noticed different writing styles when it comes to the narrative, word choice, and so on.  I finished a book by Peter F. Hamilton and started one by Terry Brooks.  The style difference is so vast that it’s easy to see what they do differently.  I find that Hamilton is very wordy when it comes to technical descriptions.  He uses a lot of complex language that could go over the heads of some readers.  He does a good job with characters’ thoughts, as well.  I find he meshes the thoughts with the narrative very well.

Terry Brooks, on the other hand, uses the narrative to talk about the characters’ thoughts and feelings the majority of the time.  It feels like he tells a lot more than other authors.  I’ve always been told to show, not tell.  He tells a lot about what happened in the previous book, if it’s a trilogy, and he tells about the character’s background and what they’d done in the past.  It’s not that it’s bad, he seems to make it easy to read and understand.  However, he’s been criticised in the past for his writing style.  But I cannot deny that his characters are likable and sympathetic.  I actually really like his characters and have been a fan of his for quite some time.  While reading his books, I’ve noticed that he shares the thoughts of the characters a lot.  You know what they’re thinking all the time.

While Hamilton jumps from character to character in a single scene, betraying their thoughts and feelings to the reader, Brooks tends to focus on on only a handful of characters’ thoughts.  I know what everyone’s thinking in Hamilton’s books.  There’s no mystery in that.  But Brooks’ books are more selective, and I don’t always know what others are thinking.

When it comes to my own writing, I prefer to stick with one character in each scene.  I don’t want to use the third person omniscient point of view.  I want to get into one character’s head, not everyone’s.  But that’s just my style.

What do you think?  Which do you prefer?