Point of view is an essential skill to master as a writer. The perspective and point of view you choose to tell your story from will make a big impact on your story.
Different narrators notice different things, so it’s important to be aware of what your narrator should notice. In order to be authentic you need to be true to your narrator. To portray an authentic narrator, you need to ask what he or she would observe, or feel, or do in a situation. These questions should always be at the forefront of your mind as you narrate your novel.
If you are wondering whether or not your narrator is authentic, or even how to make your narrator more authentic, it can be helpful to write a scene from several perspectives and points of view. Having a deeper understanding of how different people react to the same situation will magnify your perspective. Writing from different perspectives and asking yourself what each person would observe, feel, or do will give you a better sense of whether or not your narrator is authentic.
One of the best ways to learn a new skill is to practice, practice, practice. And this writing prompt will certainly give you plenty of practice.
Writing Prompt: Point of View (How to Magnify Your Perspective)
Below is a list of 5 scenarios that you can write from four different perspectives. If you are feeling really ambitious you can even go through each perspective and write each in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person. But feel free to mix and match. If you know you want to work on 1st or 3rd person, you can write all of the perspectives from that point of view. If you know you want to play around with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person, you can pick one or two perspectives from each scene. I want this writing prompt to be helpful, so I hope it can be customized to meet your needs.
Scenario 1: 1st Day of School
Is he greeting the students? Is he in his office, on the phone with outraged parents? Is he nervous or excited?
Is she worried about finding her class, or is she trying to find her friends? Is she wondering what the school year will be like? What she will learn, if she’ll like her teacher? Or is she bemoaning the fact that summer has ended?
Is the teacher just as nervous as the students? Does he feel prepared? Is he missing summer too? Dreading grading papers? Or excited to be a force for good in sculpting young minds?
Personifying the school will give you a whole new look on the situation. (It can also help you with setting!) Is the school friendly and inviting? A haven of knowledge? Or is it evilly cackling at the prisoners the students will become for the day?
Scenario 2: Surgery
What are they thinking? Are they worried about the operation? Or relieved that their problem is about to be fixed? Are they signing forms? Changing into a gown? Being wheeled into the operating room?
Are they waiting to hear how the surgery goes? Do they try desperately to stay with their loved one? Are they worried? How is their worry different from that of the patient?
What has he done to prepare for the surgery? Is he experienced or new? Does he feel calm and confident in his abilities, or does he have a rush of adrenaline to keep him alert and quick to think and act?
Is the hospital a hopeful place of recovery and healing? Or is it dark and drab, a place where people come to die?
Scenario 3: Circus/Carnival
Is she making balloons? Are the children afraid of her? Does she like her job as a clown? Is it a summer job to earn money for college, or a career that earns enough to pay the bills? Is she hired by the circus or does she also do birthday parties?
Does he spend his time people watching? Does he see kids happily laughing, parents swinging a child in their arms? Or does he see parents struggling to contain their children? What does he sell? What does it smell like in his food stall?
What attractions catch his eye? Is he more interested in the food, winning prizes, or riding rides? Or a crazy mix of it all? Is the whole day just blissful fun, or is he grumpy because he wants more tickets or wants to play for a prize his parents knows he will never win and won’t let him play?
Roller Coaster (or any attraction like the merry-go-round, mirror maze, etc.)
Does the ride creak and groan under the weight of the sugar-high, obnoxious children? Or do the sounds of the ride whoosh and swish echoing the merry laughter of its occupants?
Scenario 4: Restaurant
Does the waiter love meeting new people and get along with the patrons? Or is he grouchy because of low tips and people who undervalue his services? Has he ever got an order wrong or dropped a tray of food? Does he interact more with the patrons or with co-workers?
Is it a slow afternoon or a dinner rush? How many dishes is she cooking at once? What else is she doing? Calling orders? Restocking the ingredients? Is she so focused on preparing the right food that she is thinking about the recipe and the process of everything? Or is it so routine that she is daydreaming about opening her own restaurant someday?
Are they eating with friends, family, or co-workers? Are they eating alone? Are they in a rush or leisurely enjoying their time? Are they at their favorite restaurant or one they’ve never been to before? How do they react to the waiter? Do they plan on leaving a good tip?
Is the food aware that it’s about to be eaten? Is it eager to be eaten, to fulfill the measure of it’s creation? Or is it sad that it’s days are coming to an end? Is the food aware of how it will smell and taste to the customer? How does it feel being handled by the chef?
Scenario 5: Scene from your own novel
Try to pick a scene where your character feels underdeveloped or your narration feels weak.
Choose your own characters
Playing around with the perspective of different characters in your own novel should be the most helpful way for you to practice magnifying your perspective and creating an authentic character. A word of caution though— unless you are intentionally writing from the perspective of two characters, make sure your final draft is only told from one perspective. I want this prompt to help you explore different perspectives to better understand how a certain character might think differently than another, but I want you to remember that your final writing should only be from one perspective.
I hope this prompt helps you play around with perspective and point of view. As you do so, it will allow you to magnify your perspective and create a more authentic narrator.
What point of view do you like to write from? What do you do to develop an authentic narrator?