In an effort to maintain authenticity, I’m afraid there is something I need to confess. Trust me, I don’t want to do it. I’ve been keenly aware of it for sometime, but due to my own stubbornness have avoided it. Excused it. Pretended it wasn’t a problem.
Except it very much is a problem.
What I’m about to say is just as minute and forgettable as it is substantial and potentially life-changing. Had I taken notice when it first was presented to me, I might have been able to avoid much of the heartache and work that lies ahead. But better to attack the problem head on, no matter at which stage, then not at all.
I’m talking about my Point of View, and how, no matter how much I’d rather not, I need to change it. Also, the point of view of which I am speaking is in reference to my literary pursuits, and in particular, changing it from “Distant Third” to “Close Third.” (You guys thought I meant something else, like politics or something, didn’t you? Ha! No, no. I’m right on all other fronts in my life and besides, this is much more important than any political leader.)
For those that don’t quite understand what I’m talking about, here are a few pointers. (Also, don’t worry if it is confusing. I’m still trying to understand, too, and have been reading Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View for reference.)
FIRST PERSON Fairly self-explanatory. The writing is told from direct experience, as though you were reading a diary or listening to the main character tell the story. Ex: I went to the store.
SECOND PERSON A lot of “you” statements, as in “you should do this” or “you went to the store.” I can see this being more common in self-help or some other form of nonfiction.
THIRD PERSON Told from the narrator, using “he” “she” and “it” when referencing the main character. Ex: She went to the store.
So that’s, it, right? Simple as that? Well, not exactly. Because WITHIN third person point of view, are multiple other points, and this is where my problem lies. Now there are a couple different phrases used to describe the same thing, so bear with me if these terms don’t immediately make sense or sound like any you have known in your studies.
THIRD PERSON OMNISCIENT Written from a complete outside perspective. The narrator is a pseudo-character in the story, that is able to see all and describe all to the reader, including things the main character doesn’t know.
THIRD PERSON CLOSE Written from an outside perspective, but in a way where we are quite nearly in the main character’s mind. We really only know what the main character can know, but still maintain third person pronouns “he, she, it.”
What I did wrong, and need to write (see what I did there?) is I created an entire 90,000 word novel in Third Person Omniscient. This is no longer hip in the literary world, and partially due to the fact that much of it can be considered “telling” and not “showing.” The reader wants to experience the story for themselves, and form their own opinions based off the evidence laid before them. It is up to the writer to convince them how to feel, without telling them how they should. Does that make sense?
Below I listed two examples of this idea where you should “show, not tell” and how you can see the difference between Third Person Close and Third Person Omniscient.
THIRD PERSON OMNISCIENT
She stood there, outside his door in the pouring rain, waiting for love, feeling forlorn, not realizing that all along it was to be found elsewhere, in the sunshine, with someone else.
THIRD PERSON CLOSE
The rain dripped onto her face and in her eyes. Shelter didn’t matter, finding love did. But after what was an eternity of knocking to no reply, she headed back to the road, head down, cheeks wet from both rain and tears.
I’ve been waiting so long
To be where I’m going
There, in the sunshine of your love
“Huh? Who is that blasting their car stereo?”
“Hop in! I drove by and thought it was you! What are you doing in the rain, weirdo?” Jack rolled down the window and smiled that charming, Southern smile, the one where his eyes twinkle ever so slightly while the right side of his upper lip raises higher than the other. “Here. Want some coffee? I got an extra just in case.”
“Yeah, sure! What is that song? I feel like I should know it.” She tossed her wet jacket into the back of the car and got in.
“Sunshine of your Love by some old British band called Cream.”
“I love it.”
The Third Person Omniscient tells us how the girl feels. It says she doesn’t realize something, thus informing us that there is something we know that she doesn’t. We don’t draw any of our own conclusions. The other example shows us (sorry if it isn’t done well! I just made it up quickly). We see her sadness by her tears, the knocking to no reply and her head down. We can surmise that this new boy, Jack, might be “the one” after all, without being told that he is.
So, in any event, whether or not those were good examples, this is my struggle at this point in time with my novel. I need to change the entire point of view so it is a better written story. Though my descriptions are superb, I still have to change it so I can allow the reader to see, and not be told, what is going on. And since my ultimate goal is publication, I better be up for the challenge, because I have few other choices.
That confession wasn’t so hard after all. But really, confessions never are the difficult part — that lies in the work that must be done to fix the problem. If any of you are in the same boat, good luck. Also, pray for me. 🙂