If you're looking for writing advice, clicking here will lead you to an index of posts aimed at writers.
The caveat: this is aimed at fiction writing.
Close Point of View
If you want to write close point of view, you will stay in the viewpoint of your main character. The reader can only know what the mc sees, hears, experiences, etc. She is the only one whose thoughts the reader is privy to. This means no “head hopping” from one person’s head to another and another. The writer stays in one person’s skin.
Think of viewpoint like a camera riding on the main character’s shoulder or in his mind. This camera is special as it can record all senses. Everything is filtered through the main character’s senses. Think how individual people are aware of different things. For example, your female friend walks in the front door and has such a strong sense of smell, she can tell the litter box needs to be changed. Your male friend notices the circle of dripped oil in your driveway. Grandma only has eyes for the grandchildren. The teenager is only concerned that there’s food—lots of it. Someone afraid of dogs won’t want to step inside our house since my German Shepard thinks it is her job to greet everyone.
My husband and I had been married for eleven years and our six-year-old daughter was interested in what happens after everyone clears their plates from the table. I told her about putting the food away, loading the dishwasher, wiping the counters and the stove. My husband’s voice comes from the living room, “You wipe the stove?!” He’d never noticed. In eleven years. (Hmm, wonder what I missed that he does?)
Harper Lee said, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.” And isn’t that really why we read? To experience someone else’s world? When done well we are learning more than just a character’s actions—we learn his heart, soul and mind.
But what if you want to show something that happens when the main character isn’t present?
Think of ways around it. Does the mc absolutely need this information? If yes, how can she find out? Overhearing? Someone telling him? Does she see something that reveals information? Does he find a clue? Read a letter or text or email? Be creative.
I like what Mark Kennedy said, “Creating characters that feel real and that are doing things out of real motivation is much harder than just creating a plot and manipulating characters into doing what they need to do to service the plot.” Close point of view is what allows readers to see and believe motivation.
What if you want to stay in the main character’s viewpoint, but are having problems?
You may be writing in third person which of course can be close pov, but try writing a scene or two in first person. You don’t have to leave it that way, but you’ll more easily see when the camera source is someone else.
Here’s a suggestion from John Tang, “…select an emotion and a setting. And then guide all the concrete details to reflect that emotion. You will naturally enter the character’s mind and discover what he or she is perhaps musing over or growing annoyed at.” (Read the full post here.) https://thewritepractice.com/closer-characters/
What about multiple viewpoints?
I think stories work in multiple viewpoints best when changing pov from scene to scene or chapter to chapter. It should be clear by the voice whose point of view we are in. If your characters aren’t distinct enough, readers will get confused. Personally, if I’m too confused by pov, I quit reading. Too many character viewpoints can be annoying as well, especially for those of us who like to identify with one or two characters.
What about an objective viewpoint?
That’s great for nonfiction or an essay.
How about omniscient viewpoint?
I’m not a fan.
What are your thoughts on viewpoint? Feel free to share in the comments.
SM Ford writes inspirational fiction for adults, although teens may find the stories of interest, too. She also loves assisting other writers on their journeys.