Saturday, August 06, 2011

Fiction Writing Lesson #5 : Perspectives

Writing class is now starting to become interesting. As the homework submissions become larger, we now spend more than half the time reading and critiquing other people's writing which I think is really good because it shows us how to sharpen our own writing skills.

In a good writing class, theory should be thin and to the point. The rest of the time should be spent on critique and writing fiction itself.

Today's lesson is on perspectives.

When writing in first person perspective, we write from the point of view of one person. Sherlock Holmes stories are written from the perspective of Dr. Watson. This form of writing is fairly common. This form of writing gets especially interesting when you write from the point of view of an evil character. You may have to introduce a long stream of rationalizations into your writing and narrations can be unreliable as well. George R R Martin's Song of Fire and Ice divides his chapters into multiple first person narratives and is a good showcase on the power of using this technique for writing.

When writing in third person perspective, you become some sort of godly being that can move from different points of view from multiple characters. Dragonlance, Lord of the Rings employ this approach. This is the most common perspective found in fantasy fiction and most plot driven narratives.

The hardest perspective to write with is the second person perspective. The book addresses the reader as the protagonist of the story. Uncommon in literature, the second person perspective has spawned the gamebooks genre like Choose your Own Adventure and Fighting Fantasy series where you get to be the fantasy hero of the story.

" You step into the Dungeon of Chaos and find an orc eating a pie. He draws his sword and charges towards you. If you strike him down turn to page 69."

Unfortunately for all of us students, we would have to write a story based on second person perspective and submit by next Friday. Fortunately, my many years as a Dungeon Master will be useful for this exercise as it is the primary mode which I narrate a game to my players.

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