Gimme Three Steps . . . and New Point of View
Dave’s post Monday—mentioning parasitism being a matter of point of view—reminded me of a post I wrote back in the Pleistocene, probably on Baen’s Bar. Which, of course I didn’t save. But it was brilliant! It was Yugh! With luck this reboot will at least be coherent.
Take this song, think of it as a scene in a story:
Here’s some poor schmuck who unknowingly has danced with the local Boss Bad Guy’s girl. And he’s trying to explain his way out of getting shot for it. All flight instincts fully engaged, and he fast-talks, and no doubt is backing toward the door and ready to run.
Or is he that scared? In a book, you can stick some internal thoughts in there. Maybe he did know who’s girl he was dancing with, and did it gleefully, knowing he was stirring up trouble and he thinks if he has to, he can get his gun out fast enough . . .
Or you could write the exact same actions, but tell it from the girl’s POV. Is she horrified that her thoughtlessly accepting a dance from a stranger didn’t matter? And now the poor guy is going to get killed!
Or does she not give a damn? Is she gleefully delighted to have men fighting over her?
Or could it be a cold blooded calculation to make Boss Bad Guy realize that she’s still very desirable and he’d better pay more attention to her?
Maybe she’s seriously psychotic and is going to enjoy the humiliation of a complete stranger and maybe even get to watch him die.
And what about the Boss Bad Guy? What’s his POV? Is he furious, and only constrained from killing the interloper because of the public venue?
Or is he sick at heart, realizing that he has to kill this fool. Knowing that if he shows weakness his gang will pull him down? But he has no desire to kill this naïve idiot. Maybe he can just back him out the door, begging for his life . . .
What about that stranger, sitting in the corner? Personally, I think he’s a spy, who’s watching his meeting with an informant about to go to hell . . .
Yep. That stupid song was a real eye-opener for me about how critical the POV was for a scene. Do you have a scene that just isn’t working? Who else is there, or can be added, who has a different perspective on the same actions? Whose POV will engage the reader, steer them toward looking at the scene in a different way?
Or an entire book.
I wrote my cross-dimensional espionage story from the POVs of the infiltrating spies. Didn’t like it. Wrote it over again from the POVs of a government political analyst and a presidential bodyguard. Not bad, but it created as many holes as it filled . . . so I brought out the original version and intertwined them. Voila! Worked pretty good.
Now, by the time this posts I’ll be in Taiwan being given the personal tour before the Big Traditional Chinese Wedding Dinner. Ten courses. All vegetarian. Only forty guests (my very sweet daughter-in-law was trying to keep it small.) The vast majority of the guests speak little English. Just picture me offending them as I try to pronounce the written phonetic phrases on these flash cards . . . Completely incapable of understanding replies. I shall smile a lot, and rumor tells me that translators can be hired. I expect to have a great time and become a local legend for malapropisms.
Which is a long winded way of saying I may not be replying. So tear into it. Grab the last scene you wrote and write it over from a different POV.
Oh, and buy a book. The groom’s parents pay for weddings over there . . .