Monday, January 13, 2014

Perspective Is Everything




I have an amazing friend who I’ve known since junior high school. She’s the type of friend that I know will always be there, no matter if we haven’t spoken in weeks (or possibly even months when life gets really crazy). As Grey’s Anatomy’s Meredith and Yang would put it, she’s my person, and that means sometimes she has to tell me things I don’t want to hear.

One of those things stuck with me for a long time. It’s also something that, after giving it a test drive myself, I realized how relevant it is to my character’s lives, too.

Whenever I complained about different types of stress in my life, she’d say something like, “If you can’t change the situation, change your perspective.”



My reaction was pretty much





Here's the thing, I had it stuck in my head that if I was stressed out, it was because the situation was stressful. I was more or less trapped in it. I felt powerless to change it and that created more stress. “I’m stressed out because I care so much!” I’d say, and believed that changing my perspective meant I’d have to stop caring.

Well at some point, I decided to try it. Instead of getting worked up, I focused on what I could reasonably do to change the issue and feel good about my effort, whehter it was successful or not. And you know what? It actually worked, and I found out that being a stress-ball did not make me work any harder or change the situation. All it did was make me miserable, which in turn affected the people around me. I had to let go of the stress and focus on what was in my control and what was not, and I’m a happier person for it.

Yes, sometimes it is easier said than done, but seriously, accepting that freaking out over something wasn’t going fix/solve/change anything, allowed me to change my perspective. (It’s all very circular and Zen-like) J

So how does this relate to writing?

PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING

Your POV character’s perspective affects the tone of your scene, word choice, decisions/actions, expectations, and pretty much anything else you can think of, including what the reader takes from the story.

Every time something feels off with a scene I’m writing, the character’s perspective is the now one of the first things I look at. Where is his or her head at in the scene? Are they thinking/feeling/speaking/acting accordingly?  

Keep the character’s mood in mind throughout every scene. Are they happy, excited, scared, sad, hurt, angry, or any combination thereof? Once you sync up with their head space, look at the description, dialogue, body language, internal thoughts, etc. It should all be colored by that character’s perspective. Many times that off feeling comes about when something doesn’t match up with how the POV character sees or experiences the world you’ve put them in.

If your character just had her heart broken, how does she view the other characters around her? Would an angry/hurt character describe a boy and girl holding hands as cute? Probably not. She’d more likely think about pulling them apart and encouraging the girl to run while her heart is still intact.

If the sky is blue and the sun is shining, would this same girl describe the day as beautiful, or would it be hot and oppressive? What would she notice about her surroundings? It all depends on her perspective.


Do you consciously think about your character’s perspective while writing a first draft or is it something you work on during revisions? Have you ever tried to change your own perspective?

Happy writing!


3 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post! I love that I can apply the advice life AND my writing to make my voice sound authentic and natural. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  2. This is so encouraging! As a mom of three, I can get super stressed out juggling all the hats I wear on a daily basis. And I love the tips on how to make my character's perspective consistent with what's happening to them! Great post!! :)

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