Friday, 22 July 2016

Creative Spark Week 4 - Point of View

Creative Spark Week 4 - First Person Point of view
By Amanda Hodgkinson

As we all know, Nabokov’s famous novel Lolita, is written from the POV of Humbert Humbert, the man who pursues Lolita. That’s to say, the novel’s story is told to us by Humbert Humbert. We hear his version of events. His voice. And Humbert, we soon learn, is an unreliable narrator. But what if Nabokov had decided to write the novel from the point of view of Lolita herself. One thing is sure, it would be a very different story…

Clearly, the writer’s choice of point of view is crucial. For this exercise on POV think of Cinderella. Traditionally, the story focuses on motherless, down on her luck, sweet and modest, Cinders. She searches for happiness in a world where everybody, it seems, is out to thwart her goals. But is that really the case?

Spend a few minutes thinking about a possible opening scene from the story. Now, write a few paragraphs from Cinderella’s POV. Use her voice as you hear it. Use the word ‘I.’ Let us really hear who Cinderella is – What kind of accent does she have? How does she see the world? What are her desires? Is she really dreaming of marrying a prince? Or does she dream of other goals? Go with whatever comes into your head. Surprise yourself. What story does Cinderella really want to tell?

Now write a scene, or perhaps the same scene, in another POV. What happens to the story if we hear it through the voice of the fairy godmother? How does Cinderella’s Stepmother tell the story? Or the prince? Remember as you write, first person POV, is exactly that. We can only know for sure what the ‘I’ of the narrator sees and thinks and hears. We cannot go into another character’s head and hear their inner thoughts.

Now that you have tried out first person POV, I hope you can see that the narrator who tells the story in this way, using the ‘I’ form, will always focus on their own ‘angle’ of the story.

Amanda Hodgkinson's debut novel 22 Britannia Road became an award-winning international bestseller. Her new book Spilt Milk came out in February 2014 (Penguin Books) and her novella Tin Town was published in the Grand Central collection of stories (Penguin US) in 2014. Meanwhile she is working on a third novel...

All images courtesy of Julie Lewis

No comments:

Post a Comment