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Des Moines daily writing prompt for Nov 13, 2009 - what's your point of view?


  Photo: mikecpeck/flickr

Topic: What's your point of view?

Setup: Writing a story, whether it's a short-short story or an epic novel, requires many decisions on the part of the author: setting, style, time frame, structure, etc. One of the most crucial, and interesting, choices relates to point of view.  

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, is told from the point of view of Atticus Finch's six year-old daughter, Scout.
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is told in both first and third person perspective from the point of view of Nick Carraway.
  • The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, is told from the point of view of a group of boys represented by a single voice.

The options with this technique are numerous.  But, regardless of the number of options, point of view is really about one thing: whose story are you telling?  Point of view is defined as "the narrator's position in relation to the story being told."  In other word's, through who's eyes is the reader "seeing" the story?      

Prompt: Scour your idea file for a project you'd like to develop.  Examine the idea, come up with a quick beginning, middle and end.  Now develop three characters; don't spend a lot of time on this part, you just want some material to work with.  Based on your story idea, what point of view will most clearly tell your story?  Play with the storyline.  Do you want to give a feeling of immediacy and intimacy?  Or do you want the narrator to distance himself from the story?  Don't limit yourself to just one point of view. Play with multiple points of view from scene to scene or chapter to chapter, group points of view, sliding point of view, etc.  Experiment with this technique and try to develop a unique way of using point of view to tell your story.

For more info: This prompt is from my own collection.