Look at the Problem From a Different Angle: Changing Point of View

March 11, 2015

This month we are spring cleaning our manuscripts.  Last week, we looked at using an unused scenes folder to salvage text.  This week, we’re looking at how to improve a scene by changing point of view.

Point of View and the Scene

charactersOne of my biggest pet peeves: writing a scene and realizing it should be told from a different character’s perspective.  Sometimes it can be difficult to realize that a scene should be written/told in a different character’s point of view, so here are some tips on understanding when it’s time to try the scene from a different angle.

Who Has the Most to Lose?

When deciding the point of a view for a scene, ask yourself who has the most to lose or gain in a scene.  Later this month we’ll discuss when and how to decide a scene is needed, and the answer to that question will help you determine from which character’s point of view the scene should be told.

For example, in When She Knows: Episode Two, the hero and heroine play a game of Twister.  The heroine, while incredibly competitive, has issues with personal relationships and getting close to people.  Originally, this scene was told from the perspective of the hero.  However, in edits, I realized the heroine had more to lose in this scene than the hero, and I rewrote it.  Why did the heroine have more to lose?  Because her character rested on her inability to get close with a person.  A game of Twister inherently forces closeness and drove the tension and the stakes higher in this scene when told from the heroines point of view.

Who is Going to Have the Greatest Reaction?

This one is tricky.  Sometimes you can conjure up a great reaction to a potentially emotional scene when in fact, such a reaction would go against a character’s nature.  For example, in the final scene of For Love of the Earl, Sarah spots the African man who helped her escape from the ship.  However, I never wrote a scene where Sarah may have witnessed the man escaping himself even though the scene could have been explosive with action.  Why?  Because Sarah’s character is all about bottling up her emotions.  The scene would have gone against the character I had built in Sarah.

Today’s Tip: Don’t be afraid to re-write a scene to tell it from a different character’s point of view.  Yes, it might be a lot of work, but it can be worth it in the end.

Next week, we’ll talk about figuring out when a scene is necessary and when it is not.

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