Does your story’s infrastructure need work?

 point of viw

We hear a lot these days about the aging and decrepit state of our roads and bridges. The point is that we take our infrastructure for granted and go about our business without regard to it.

We believe if we are driving on an Interstate highway that its construction characteristics are solid, and we have nothing to fear when we enter a long span of concrete that stretches across a body of water, or a ravine, or a marsh.

Too late we have learned our assumptions often are not based in fact, that we may be on thin ice.

So, too, is it with the infrastructure of our stories.

The main building blocks of interesting writing are:

1.  Character

2.  Plot

3.  Setting

4. Point of view.

Number four, point of view, is perhaps the one we most often overlook to our peril.

Just as a crumbling road can lead to destruction, faulty point of view can cause us to veer off into a ditch.

It has taken me a while to get my arms around the importance of consistent point of view in a story, but now that I have spent some  months worrying with it, I have come to understand the power of it.

The power of point of view comes from its immediacy.

If a writer learns to put herself in the skin of her character and stay there long enough she will see the story as only the character can see it.

That presence in the character’s head turns a detached recitation of facts and events into a matter of life and death.

And if a story doesn’t have life and death at stake, it’s not worth reading, not something that will hold a reader’s attention and cause him to pull for or hate the character.

Maybe the easiest technique to cause a writer to “get” point of view is for her to write a story in first person. If she doesn’t cheat by jumping out of the confining perspective of first person, she will soon see how that point of view can open up new vistas in her writing.

Once the point of view light comes on for an author, she will realize how it drives her writing to new levels, forces her to view the world as her characters see it.

And that’s when all the fun begins in the writing gig.


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