Thursday, March 15, 2012

Point of View - Part Three

The entire point to POV (excuse the pun!) is that we authors pick a 'side' or viewpoint, and we influence the reader to take the same viewpoint. We influence who the reader will empathise with, and who the villains will be (because in their own heads they're never villains, they're just misunderstood!).

Last week I offered up three tips on how to make readers empathise with your characters, and promised you a fourth tip today. This tip really is the most important of them all.

But first, here's another clip from my favourite TV show. Who do you empathise with most in this scene? From whose POV would you say this scene is presented?

Even if you don't watch the show and don't know who you're 'supposed' to side with, I'm pretty sure you chose a hero and a villain. Eventually.

Who did you most feel for?
Elena (the heroine of the series, whose life is in danger), Michael (the man with a knife at her back) or Klaus (the emotional blonde)? By the end of the scene, you said Klaus, right?

If you’re not a follower of the TV show you might be surprised to learn that Klaus is the show's arch enemy number one, and until this moment we viewers haven’t had much sympathy for him at all. He has single-handedly tried to kill everyone we love.

And yet in this scene we feel for him. We side with him. We even see much of this scene from his POV. We're moved to care about him.

And the reason is because in this scene we are given a glimpse of his motivation. We see the son who has battled all his life for his father's approval, and we understand now what drives him. We no longer see him as a one-dimensional cut-out of pure evil. We see him as someone who has become the way he is because he was unloved and under-valued by his father.

Every How To Write books says the same thing. You need conflict on every page. But conflict isn't an argument. Conflict isn't the threat of a knife in your back. It's the fear, it's the anger. Conflict in this scene is the showdown between a father and son after a lifetime of hurt and hate.

Use your character's point of view to reveal their motivation. Build the conflict between the characters by motivating why they do what they do. And you will have added a whole new depth not only to the POV but to your story.

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