It's time for me to get an attitude adjustment, and when better to start than with the new year? I'm not talking about my own attitude (we'll save that for a later post), but about my characters, of course. Specifically, about point of view (POV).
How do I know what POV I want to use? Spoiler alert, there's no answer to this question. I can't tell you what POV to use, only your story can do that. Consider this passage:
I stood at the base of the stairs. The bright stage lights glared at me, daring me to step up. I took a deep breath and climbed, feeling my legs shake so hard I thought they might give out before I got to the standing microphone. I squared my shoulders and looked at the audience before me, forcing my widest smile. Yes, I can do this is. I can be class president.
I gripped the handle of the spotlight and swiveled it left to catch Meg as she climbed the stairs. Jesus, she was taking her time. Like she didn't get enough attention all day long, she had to drag this out, too. I followed her slow march across the stage until she stood behind the microphone, smug, smiling out at the crowd like she had already won.
Two high school students in the same room with very different voices, different backgrounds, different goals in life - and, therefore, different points of view. Which one is right? They both are.
Often the key to selecting POV is figuring out which character has the most to lose in your story. That's the character that will be the most driven throughout. One useful exercise when struggling to determine POV is to write a scene or two from each viewpoint. It sounds like wasting time when all you want to do is get to writing, but it's a great way to discover who your characters are, what they care about, and what their story really is.
Finding the right POV can make your story click. It's a great way to reveal a new attitude, in my humble point of view.