Points of view

by Dana Vacheron

Question: Are character points of view like the way a character "sees" another. For example, in snow white, the evil queen views snow white as someone to kill, as hatred but the dwarfs view for snow white is a gorgeous, nice princess. Are points of view like that?

Answer: Yes, but there's more to it.

When we talk about writing from a particular point of view, it means that we tell the story by presenting (or writing) what that character perceives, and not what any other character perceives.

For instance, the novel, The Hunger Games, is told from the point of view of Katniss. This means that from the beginning to the end of the story the reader is told only what she is thinking, feeling, seeing, hearing, tasting, etc.

As for other characters, the only things we know about them are what Katniss perceives. So she may tell us what she sees someone else do or hears them say when she is around. We may learn what she thinks about someone, or what she thinks may be going on in someone's head, based on their actions, words, facial expression, etc..

However, we don't know what other characters do or say when Katniss is not present. We don't know what they perceive from their point of view. And we never know for certain what really is going on in their heads.

Another way to describe this type of narration is to say it is "limited," meaning it is limited to one character's point of view.

As you point out, when you write from one character's point of view, it is a very subjective experience. Your character may interpret what they perceive in their own unique way. Their perspective will be coloured by their own unique bias and opinions, or by how they feel about other characters. They may pay attention to some details that another character would ignore.

The advantage to writing in this limited way is that it makes it easy for someone, while reading the story, to imagine that they are Katniss. The reader experiences a very intimate relationship with her.

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