Point of View in Fiction: Elements and Choices – a short course

Taking a one-day timeout from our daily microfiction, today’s post is a short course called Point of View in Fiction: Elements and Choices, comprising a PowerPoint presentation and the accompanying, and much more detailed, Word document. The two files are attached below. If you have a problem accessing either of them, please contact me via a Comment here, or email terencekuch /a/t/ ymail.com. The Word document also appears below.

POV-TerenceKuch

POV-Terence Kuch

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Point of View in Fiction: Elements and Choices

This .doc file accompanies, and provides additional information for, the related .ppt visual presentation. These two files should be used together

This presentation was developed by Terence Kuch for the Arlington [Virginia] Writers Group

Copyright 2014, Terence Kuch. All rights reserved except as follows: (a) Creative Commons permission level “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported” applies (see creativecommons.org). This means, inter alia, that non-commercial organizations may freely copy and use this work for educational purposes. (b) All copies must include “by Terence Kuch: terencekuch@ymail.com; www.terencekuch.net; http://www.terencekuch.com”.

 

Event Announcement for Optional Use:

 

What is point of view in fiction? The basics are straightforward, but POV can be used in many different ways to express the ideas in your story more clearly, imaginatively, interestingly, expressively; and help you define character.

 

Some key topics we will discuss include:

 

  • Single POV v Limited v Omniscient;
  • Relation of POV to person and tense;
  • How to and how not to transition between POVs, when you need to do so;
  • “Objective” v “Mind-reading” approaches
  • In single POV, how to convey other characters’ thoughts and feelings;
  • And related topics.

 

After the presentation there will be an (optional) writing exercise.

 

If you know of a passage from a book or story having an interesting or original or disastrous approach to POV (including your own fiction, if you wish), please bring it to the session.

 

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Outline of Presentation

(SLIDES TWO & THREE)

 

1 What is POV? Looking From, Looking At

2 Points of View in Fiction: The Standard Account

2.1 Omniscient POV

2.2 Single POV

2.3 Limited POV

2.4 Levels of POV in Fiction

3 “Objective” style v mind-reading

4 Interactions of POV, Person, Tense [Excel table – see ppt]

5 “Rules” and Practices

6 The POV Character and The Protagonist

7 Choosing a POV

8 Character and POV

9 Additional Topics

9.1 Aesthetic Distance

9.2 Reliable and Unreliable Narrators

10 Exercises (optional)

Appendix: Selected Quotations (not on slides)

Peter Carruthers on mind-reading

Jonathan Raban on first person and POV

Heather McHugh on the missing cameraman

Henry David Thoreau on who is always speaking

David Jauss on some complexities of POV

Wayne Booth on levels of POV

Grace Fleming on the merits of the Objective style

 

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1 What is POV? Looking From, Looking At

SLIDE FOUR

 

Overall, point of view is …..

 

“How the story is told, the way in which it is narrated.”

[Rust Hills, Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular]

 

“The method and perspective an author uses for conveying the story.”

[Grace Fleming in About.com]

 

But in practice we need to be more specific than that.

 

Looking from: SLIDE FIVE

 

Analogously to a camera, a POV in fiction will have the equivalent of a depth of field, aperture, focal length, focus, filtering, cropping, etc., and one or more specific ‘shooting from’ locations.

 

But your fiction-POV will, in addition, have a personality. It will have thoughts and sensations, whether or not these are narrated in the story. [Yes, some cameras have “personalities” that affect the images they capture, e.g., early Leica RF’s, and the famous “Diana” camera.]

 

Looking at / paying attention to:

 

The camera points somewhere. It moves from one subject to another quickly, slowly, or not at all. Your story POV also does that. The story-POV’s attention, what or who it looks at, moves in a dynamic the writer chooses.

 

What can the POV sense and tell us about? A town? A room? A sister? A satellite orbiting Jupiter? Nothing west of West End Avenue? Or does the POV know “everything”? All these are possibilities for the writer to consider.

 

SLIDES SIX AND SEVEN

 

Where is the POV in these pages from graphic novels? Why is there an “eye” bouncing around like a mis-hit cue-ball on a pool table?

 

Where is the camera? Who is the camera?

 

Why is radical rapid change of “looking from, looking at” accepted in graphic novels and in some films, such as “Hard Day’s Night” that made Richard Lester famous, but not in fiction except of the most experimental kind?

 

There are historical reasons why this is so. Are there also artistic reasons?

 

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2 Point of View in Fiction: The Standard Account

SLIDE TEN

 

There are three basic kinds of POV, each with numerous variations. Here are simple / simplistic definitions:

 

Single POV: What happens in the story, told from the viewpoint of one character only, who is usually, but not always, the protagonist. What happens “off-stage” is known only if reported to, or discovered by, the POV character.

 

Limited POV: What happens in the story is told from the viewpoints of more than one character. Often, viewpoints are changed at chapter breaks, sometimes in the middle of a paragraph, or in some other way. For example:

 

I really don’t like Marcia, thought John. At about the same time, Marcia had the same thought about John.

 

Omniscient POV: What any or all characters may experience, plus any fact or belief about anything in the past, present, or future that the writer’s narrative chooses to reveal.

 

An omniscient POV can lie or withhold information, even though it “knows everything.” This is called “unreliable narrator.” Any work of fiction, in any POV, can have an unreliable narrator. In fact, since completeness is unachievable, it’s not easy to see what a completely reliable narrator could be.

 

We will have more to say about each POV shortly.

 

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2.1 Single Point of View

 

Single POV gives the reader one character’s experience of the world, seen through his eyes only, including events reported to him by others. The single POV character is present in every chapter and scene.

 

In the simplest instance, such as in many of Jeannette Winterson’s stories, the narrator is someone very like her. She, the writer, seems identical to the person (fictional individual) telling the story from inside it. Henry Miller’s novels are also like this: more like memoirs.

 

Single POV can be first or third person, present or past tense. Single POV is often used in short stories, less frequently in novels. This is because a uniform voice, a single view of the world, limits the possibilities of expression and can becoming boring in longer works.

 

A “character,” of course, could be an intelligent machine, an alien, a group mind of hyper-intelligent gingko trees, and so on.

 

There is also pseudo-POV using grammatical person, e.g., “one” substituting for “I,” as in “One [third person] finds the movie trite.” This is mostly used, in fiction, for satiric effect. More common is the pseudo-person “you” [second person] for “someone” [third person]. These confusions are acceptable in fictional dialog, because it may reveal character to show people speaking this way.

 

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2.2 Limited POV

 

There is no commonly accepted definition of “limited POV.” The one I find most useful is this:

 

In Limited POV, the reader has access to at least some thoughts and sensations of more than one character, but no knowledge of anything one or more of the characters does not know or feel in the fictional present.

 

Not: “Little did they know that next year the evil Obliteran space navy would invade Earth,” for instance. That fact, however, could be known and stated in Omniscient POV.

 

An alternative definition of Limited POV is “omniscience limited to one character.” Keeping our definitions most useful, however, “omniscience limited to one character” should just be classified as a kind of Omniscient POV, not Limited, in my view.

 

It can be difficult to write in Limited POV without confusing the reader. The writer must be careful to avoid doing that.

 

The “cleanest” use of Limited is in mystery novels, where POV is alternated, by chapter, between murderer and detective. P.D. James has done this very effectively. That is, in Limited, there should be some essential interaction between or among the POV characters, not merely different views of the same or different events. Even in Rashomon, each POV character is personally involved in the story-line.

 

Rasley’s Rules for Shifting POV are useful for both Limited and Omniscient POVs:

 

“Give [the reader] a way to get oriented immediately in the new mind [is the basic rule]. Here are four basic techniques:

 

“1. Use the new POV character’s name right away.

 

“2. Quickly use a mind-word (like thought, felt, mused, wondered, ached, or tasted) to convey thought, feeling, or perception from the new perspective.

 

“3. Use some action for transference of perspective.

[or]

“4. Use some object, like a prop, for transference of perspective.”

 

(Alicia Rasley, The Power of Point of View)

 

In Limited, how many characters should have a POV? That’s up to the writer. In World War Z (the book), the answer is many. In the film, the answer is one predominant POV (Brad Pitt, of course), and a smattering of less-consequential POVs, mostly that of Mireille Enos, his screen-wife.

 

Each POV should have its own attitudes, voice rhythms, choice of vocabulary, concerns, and so on. If all POVs sound pretty much the same, the result won’t be very interesting.

 

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2.3 Omniscient [Scenic, Dramatic] POV

 

Definition: “Knowing everything about everything and everybody, including past, present, and future, and including everyone’s thoughts and sensations.”

 

Grace Fleming’s definition is that “Omniscient narration provides an insight to the thoughts, feelings, and impressions of all the characters and events. We receive information from an all-knowing vantage point – and we even know what’s going on when nobody is around to experience it.” [Grace Fleming in About.com]

 

In some variations of Omniscient, the authorial voice may comment on the story as it goes along (“and so, dear reader). Most editors will stop reading your manuscript at this point.

 

An omniscient being may know everything, but doesn’t document everything or the story would never end. Omniscience should be handled with a light touch. Ideally, the reader won’t even be conscious that he’s experiencing a god-like view of the world. Therefore, the omniscient-POV story should be told in third person, with no intrusive narrator.

 

Omniscient POV is often used in longer works such as novels, less often in short stories.

 

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2.4 Levels of POV

SLIDE NINE

 

Stepping back for a moment, it’s helpful to consider a broad view of the level or levels of POV that can apply to a single work. From the top down, the most general to the most specific, these levels of looking from / looking at are:

 

  1. Human beings in general / NSA / God

 

  1. The individual who happens, sometimes, to write something.

 

  1. The writer when he’s ‘being a writer’ as he proceeds

from work to work.

 

  1. The writer when he’s writing this specific piece of fiction

 

  1. The narrative voice of the work (think of the highly distinctive

voice in The Golden Bowl, for instance). This may be the voice of a

character in the story, or not. Philip K. Dick, for example, was

famously indifferent to voice.

 

  1. The narrator inside the story itself (the “I” in single POV, etc.)

  1. The writer’s ideal reader (e.g., “readers who liked World

                           War Z,…” publishers love this.) “Kafka’s endings – or absence of endings –

require the story to be reread from another point of view.” – Albert Camus

[abridged]

and

  1. Actual readers (this level is called “reception” in literary

studies.)

 

A complete understanding of the story will take all these levels into consideration.

 

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3 “Objective” Style v “Mind-Reading”

SLIDE TEN

 

3.1 What It Is

 

A POV may or may not have direct access to the thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations of one or more characters, including himself.

 

Examples:

 

Single POV with mind-reading:

 

In first person: “It occurred to me that Jake was a creep.”

 

In third person: “It occurred to Angie that Jake was a creep.”

 

Single POV in the Objective style, that is, without mind-reading, can be awkward:

 

“Angie looked at Jake as if he were a creep.” [and can we really understand such a

look “Objectively”?]

 

The “Objective” style is also called “scenic” or “dramatic” – no narrator is apparent. In this style, the POV is inside the mind of no one at all; as in most plays and films. (But see: soliloquys in drama; or the final scene of the film Zazie dans le Métro, where the studio walls come down and we see cameramen trying to scramble out of the way.)

 

Traditional mind-reading style:

 

“He looked at his wife. ‘She’s so unhappy,’ he thought. He wondered what to say.”

 

In the “Objective” style we couldn’t write this. We would have to approximate the POV’s emotions using physical signs, or just have him say to his wife “You look unhappy,” without explaining how he knows that, or require her to tell him of her unhappiness. Either solution is awkward.

 

“Objective” stories are like the ideal newspaper story: No thoughts are conveyed to the reader except in dialog, or inferred from physical cues such as actions or expressions. Hemingway frequently made use of this style.

 

Rust Hills identifies Objective (he calls it “Scenic”) as a separate POV. However, the distinction between “Objective” and mind-reading cuts across the three traditional POVs; it’s not so much a point of view as a style.

 

3.2 How and When To Use Objective POV

 

There are several good reasons to think carefully before writing a story in the “Objective” style:

 

(a) Not much is accomplished. We have a pretty good grasp of Hamlet’s thinking, for example, before he steps to the side of the stage and tells us.

 

(b) Describing emotions objectively is possible, but often awkward and less vivid than being inside the character’s head, not to mention less subtle.

 

(c) Translating every thought or feeling of characters into behavioral analogues can be clumsy and inexact. Compare:

 

“James plunged through a thicket of poisonous plants. “That hurts!,” he yelled.”

[or]

“James plunged through the thicket. He felt a stinging sensation beginning in his legs and moving painfully upward.”

 

(d) Use of the Objective style can lead to some awkward moments in a story, e.g., can convey thoughts only in dialog or if a character specifically reports them. Mind-reading allows a more supple and interesting approach to story-telling than Objective.

 

(e) The reader often wants to know what’s going on inside a major character’s head by means of “he thought…” Readers aren’t really bothered by “he thought.”

 

Mind-reading has been criticized as being a lazy way out for the writer: telling and not showing. However, both styles are “telling.” Example:

 

“Herbert looked at Rita’s downcast mouth, the tears rolling from her eyes, the way she turned her head away.” This isn’t showing any more than “‘Rita’s so unhappy,’ Herbert thought” is showing, although it’s telling us more.

 

Certainly Herbert should be able to grasp (many of) Rita’s mental states, and tell us. If he couldn’t, what would that say about their relationship? And we could describe that distant kind of relationship, too, via mind-reading.

 

(f) An Objective approach can become limiting and (at novel length) boring. The reader wants to know what the characters are experiencing “inside,”not just what they do and say. That’s why robots are humanized in fiction, rather than being treated like a more complicated version of a toaster-oven.

 

It is possible to convey emotions effectively in Objective, e.g.

 

“Maude gave Jimmy a big smile and hugged him. ‘I love you,’ she said.”

 

That’s fine. But I can’t see any particular merit in avoiding mind-reading. Perhaps Maude has more subtle emotions than can be related objectively, or which it would be out of character for her to express aloud or by bodily movements.

 

Editors will always object to a sudden act of mind-reading within an otherwise “Objective” story. Some literary fiction can include this tactic, but it must look purposeful and must be fictionally justified, i.e., not look like a mistake. It’s always good if you can minimize your interactions with the publisher’s copy-editor.

 

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4 Relation of POV to Person and Tense

SLIDE ELEVEN

 

[see Excel table inserted in the ppt file]

 

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5 “Rules” and Practices

SLIDE TWELVE

 

There are no hard and fast rules in writing fiction. There will always be writers who violate accepted practice and succeed. But there are guidelines that could be used as defaults, that is, not violated without careful thought. Some of these we’ve already mentioned:

 

(a) Readers like to be surprised, but not confused. This is especially true of POV.

 

(b) Single POV is most suitable for short fiction. It’s difficult to sustain interest over the length of a novel written in single POV, although it has been done.

 

(c) The protagonist should be the POV character. There are lots of exceptions to this, but keeping to this rule will avoid many potential problems in characterization and exposition. (More on this below.)

 

(d) In Single or Limited POV, the POV character should, protagonist or not, be an actor in the story, that is, drive or affect the plot, not merely be an observer. Again, there are lots of exceptions to this, but it’s a good default.

 

(e) The more a fictional POV is like a security camera (first person, present tense, Objective, consistent field of view and focus), the shorter the story we will be willing to sit still for.

 

(f) In Omniscient POV, avoid the intrusive narrator (“Once again Alyssa Darlington has survived the evil Dr. Zork’s cunning scheme. But will she be so fortunate next time?”)

 

(g) In Limited POV, do not go beyond the characters’ thoughts, emotions, observations, and sensations. I.e., a god’s-eye view is for Omniscient POV.

 

(h) In Limited POV, changing POV from character to character should not be done without warning or too often, or without a careful transition, e.g., alternating chapters. BUT, as we mentioned, films do this all the time, as do graphic novels. This goes back to Rasley’s Rules above.

 

(i) Changing POV (single to omniscient, etc.) is normally a bad idea. POV practice should be consistent throughout the work, or there must be very good fictional-technical reasons why not. This is especially true of short stories.

 

(j) Reveal POV early. The reader should know, very early in the story: Which POV(s) this story is told in; if present or past tense will predominate; and if first or third person will predominate. Although ome novelists successfully violate this rule, it takes great skill to do so and a compelling reason why.

 

(k) Single POV works well with first-person narration. Short stories are most often single POV. Many editors prefer or require single-POV in a short story.

 

(l) Novels in single-POV can be wearying (but see Huckleberry Finn.)

 

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6 The POV Character v The Protagonist

SLIDE THIRTEEN

 

The POV character is usually the protagonist, whatever POV you are in.

 

Lord Jim is an example of a novel in which the POV character (Marlow) is not the protagonist (Jim). The “buddy” POV (narrator is not the main character) can be tricky to use. The arc of the buddy can gradually assume more importance than the arc of the main character. Is this the writer’s intention?

 

Rust Hills (p.141): “The essential dynamic of fiction … is that character is moved” [i.e., realized or changed] “by action. We have called the character to whom the events of the narrative have consequence the ‘moved’ character. It is my belief that the moved character and the point-of-view character, in successful fiction, will prove to be one and the same.”

 

For example, even when the POV is the “buddy” of the hero, it could turn out that the responses of the POV are more significant than the responses of the main character. (See The Great Gatsby.) And in the Sherlock Holmes stories, Holmes is not the POV character but is clearly the focus of interest. Is anyone “moved” in these stories? Not Sherlock; his character doesn’t develop. Watson? – actually, yes; he’s different after his marriage and subsequent removal from Baker Street.

 

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7 Choosing a POV

SLIDE FOURTEEN

 

Choosing a POV depends on:

 

  • What you want your story to accomplish;
  • What depth of character you’d like portray;
  • How you’d like to present your characters;
  • How each of your major characters relates to other characters;
  • What POV is best-suited to the plot;
  • If the protagonist has a single main antagonist, Limited could show both characters and their struggles most clearly.
  • AND many other considerations

 

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8 Character and POV

SLIDE FIFTEEN

 

Single POV is useful for exploring the minds of characters who are introspective, even if their introspections are neither accurate nor especially acute.

 

If the character is not self-aware, Limited or Omniscient POV could be useful in understanding the POV through others’ thoughts and actions.

 

If you want to “stand back” from your protagonist’s character, do not use Single POV unless the POV is a different character from the protagonist.

 

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9 Additional Topics

SLIDE SIXTEEN

 

9.1 Aesthetic Distance

 

Aesthetic distance is a consistent awareness that you are reading a work of fiction as a skillful contrivance. Writers whose work promotes aesthetic distance in the reader include Vladimir Nabokov, Samuel Beckett, the later Henry James, the later James Joyce, David Foster Wallace’s short stories, several works of Lydia Davis, Lucy Corin, et al.

 

Most “mainstream” novels avoid aesthetic distance and endeavor to “lose” the reader in the story.

 

Post-modernism: you [the narrator] can’t hide, and you shouldn’t run. We want to know who is telling us the story, and why. And especially, we want to be reminded that the story is a performance. The reader becomes complicit in the story, not a passive bystander.

 

Single POV tends to reduce aesthetic distance, as does the use of present tense.

 

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9.2 Reliable and Unreliable Narrators

 

“Unreliable” POVs may be delusional, or may simply be lying to the reader. The narrative of a POV character lying to another character is not considered “unreliable” in this sense.

 

Since every POV, including the narrator and even the author, has unique and incomplete perspectives on what’s happening in the story, there are no absolutely reliable narrators. Even God has an angle on things.

 

Can an omniscient narrator be permitted to make mistakes – misunderstand what’s happening? A curious question.

 

Charles Baxter, The Art of Subtext, p.41 [re Moby Dick, etc.:] “It is often a mistake for a writer to give the narrative reins to an obsessive unless the novel is organized to produce a comic effect. You need an explainer, someone who will make a social effort in the direction of the reader.”

 

But there have been some wonderful books written from the POV of an obsessive, or otherwise delusional, person, such as James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. However, the obsession or delusion needs to be the central point of the novel, not just an aspect of character*. “The wheel that moves nothing is not part of the machine.” – Wittgenstein

 

*The TV series Homeland is an interesting case here: Why is it necessary for Claire Danes’ character to be so thoroughly emotionally handicapped? Aren’t there two stories going on here, each getting in the other’s way?

 

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10 Exercises (optional)

SLIDE SEVENTEEN

 

10.1 Exercise One: For the Birds

 

Write a paragraph or short piece of fiction based on the news report below.

 

“Maple Ave. E. 300 block, 6:07 p.m. Nov. 19. A man returned two bird feeders to a store for a refund. It was later determined that the bird feeders had been stolen from the store when the man was there earlier.” [Washington Post, November 28, 2013]

 

Choose one or more POVs

Single:

.. of the thief

.. of the store clerk

.. of an investigating policeman

.. of the narrator/reporter/story-teller

.. of an affected bird

Limited: two or more of the above

Omniscient.

 

Make up any details you wish.

 

The POV may be reliable or unreliable.

 

How does your attitude toward the events affect the narration of the story?

 

How does it affect your portrayal of the people in the story?

 

Is the narrative voice intrusive, or unobtrusive?

 

What is the narrative voice’s attitude toward each character?

 

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10.2 Exercise Two: Stalled Out

 

Relate the following incident from some point(s) of view:

 

Dale, Frankie, and Lee are in a stalled elevator car. Help seems to be on the way. While they wait, they might speak with each other, or we might overhear their thoughts, or both, or neither.

 

Dale will soon be late for a crucial job interview.

 

Frankie is on the way to meet with an ex-spouse. Lawyers for each will be present.

 

Lee is retired, has nowhere to go, is in no hurry, and is enjoying observing the other two.

 

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10.3 Exercise Three: Freestyle

 

Write a paragraph (either original or copied from somewhere else).

 

Now, change the POV, making whatever grammatical modifications are needed for a ‘fit.’

 

Why did you choose the POV that you chose?

 

What did you learn?

 

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Appendix: Selected Quotations

 

On mind-reading:

 

“Knowledge of our own kinds of thinking is no different in principle from the knowledge that we have of the mental states of other people, and is acquired by the same mental faculty utilizing many of the same general sources of evidence.

“Our only mode of access to our own thinking is through the same sensory channels that we use when figuring out the mental states of others. Our common-sense conception of the transparency of our own minds is illusory.”

[abridged]

– Peter Carruthers, The Opacity of Mind, An Integrative Theory of Self-Knowledge (Oxford University Press, 2011)

 

See also “The Unreliability of Naïve Introspection,” Chapter 7 of Eric Schwitzgebel, Perplexities of Consciousness (MIT Press, 2011)

 

On first person and POV:

 

“The book is written in the first person, but that I is the most deceptive, tricky pronoun. There are two of us. I’m a chronicler of this character at the center who is, but in a necessary sense is not, me. he doesn’t have my retrospect or my leisure. He doesn’t know what’s around the next bend. He’s ignorant of consequences. He moves through the book in a state of innocence about the future, whereas of course I as the writer, from the time I begin writing the first paragraph, do know what the future holds. I know how the story is going to turn out.” (Jonathan Raban, quoted in Reality Hunger by David Shields)

 

On the missing cameraman:

 

“In documentary … I’m aware of the camera. Nothing short of a shot of a camera … can so remind me of the missing cameraman. The missing cameraman, a presence that informs, a fierceness that’s effaced – that’s as close as I can get to being reminded of the strangeness of being in a body, oneself, in the world: always facing out.” (Heather McHugh, quoted in Reality Hunger by David Shields)

 

On who is always speaking:

 

“In most books, the I, or first person, is omitted; in this it will be retained; that, in respect to egotism, is the main difference. We commonly do not remember that it is, after all, always the first person who is speaking.” (Thoreau, quoted in Reality Hunger by David Shields)

 

On some complexities of POV:

 

“[POV] refers to three not necessarily related things: [1] the narrator’s person (first, second, or third), [2] the narrative techniques he employs (omniscience, stream of consciousness, and so forth), and [3] the locus of perception (the character whose perspective is presented, whether or not that character is narrating).” (David Jauss, Alone With All That Could Happen,

 

(TK:) And, … [4] Where the narrator is pointing to, i.e., the subject(s) of the narrative, which is usually (but not always) a sentient being, and usually (but not always) the locus of perception; [5] One or more physical or psychological spaces enclosing a narrative (a single room, a city, a country, a tribe, etc.); and [6] Where the narrator is pointing >from< (near the characters and action, mid-distance, God’s-eye view, etc.). A pointing finger, or a camera, points to, exists somewhere in real or metaphorical space, and points from: all three are aspects of POV. (TK, posted 8 February 2010 to the Dark Fiction Guild website)

 

On levels of POV:

 

  1. The flesh-and-blood author, who tells many stories, before and after a given tale, (A) Who is immeasurably complex and largely unknown, even to those who are most intimate. …. (C) Who chooses (consciously or unconsciously) to create an improved version, a second self (the implied author (No. II below)…
  2. The implied author of this tale: (A) Who has chosen, consciously or unconsciously (so any given reader will infer), every detail, every quality, that is found in the work or implied by its silences; (B) Who knows that the story is not literally true…, that some of the work’s norms may not hold in real life, …

III. The teller of this tale: (A) Who believes that it all really happened … (C) Who may or may not present surrogate dramatized tellers whose narrative acts become part of the total work created but who either (1) Do not take part in the story told (do not enter the world of the tale and have no effect on what happens), whether as (a) Reliable narrators, or as … unreliable narrators, or, (2) Do take a part in the story told. …

  1. The ‘career-author’ who persists from work to work, a composite of the implied authors of all his works.
  2. The public myth, a kind of super-author, often quite different from and only related to any of the others.

 

(Wayne C. Booth, The Rhetoric of Fiction, second edition, p.428ff -–considerably shortened by TK, and leaving out “the typology of the reader”)

 

On the merits of the Objective style:

 

“In an objective or dramatic point of view, we are told events and allowed to react and have feelings as an observer. We are not provided the emotions; we experience emotions based on the events we read about. While this may sound impersonal, it is just the opposite. This is much like observing a film or a play.” [Grace Fleming in About.com]

 

[TK: However, a thought or subjective sensation could be an important event in a story – as is the case in the traditional epiphany.]

 

====================================================================

 

THE END (from my point of view, anyway)

SLIDE EIGHTEEN

 

 

 

 

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