There is no absolute point of view from which real and ideal can be finally separated and labelled.
~T. S. Eliot~
I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is “stuck” with where she’s at on her novel. She read me what she’s written and it occurred to me the voice may be horribly wrong. Yes, I used a little more tact when I told her that and she took my criticism with aplomb.
When you are settling in to write, what you first put down on the page may be glaringly obvious whose voice the story is in – needs to be in. But then, there are the other times when the voice may change, the story doesn’t work as well the way you have it or the impact you want changes. That’s the time it helps to revisit the point of view. This isn’t a piece I’m currently working on; however, I wanted to show an example of first person POV versus 3rd person.
I started writing this in 3rd person omniscient and thought it was “okay.” Keep in mind, these are just the scenes from a draft…
At 6:33 in the morning, the table was set for three with her great-grandmother’s Haviland China and a pair of the Waterford toasting flutes she received for a wedding present ten years earlier. In the third spot, she tenderly positioned a silver child’s cup and flatware for the child she finally carried. The test showed positive last night.
Meredith was ecstatic and she took the stairs two at a time as she went to wake her husband. Her plan was to wake him with kisses and then give him the good news as soon as he came down for breakfast and saw the third place setting in the dining room.
Her husband, Dr. Jason Brooks, was already in the shower when Meredith reached her bedroom. It was unusual for him to wake before the alarm at seven o’clock, but she reasoned that he must have an early consultation or possibly even a surgery scheduled. She picked up his Blackberry to check his calendar. Nothing appeared on the schedule.
As she was about to set the phone down, the phone chirped for an incoming text message. She read it, put the device back down where she found it and then slipped unnoticed from the room. He had an early morning consultation that wasn’t on the schedule and she didn’t think it had anything to do with plastic surgery either.
She ran her fingers through her hair as she went back downstairs. Meredith silently removed the Haviland and the Waterford and the silver cup she bought for the occasion. She wished she’d never given the maid the day off.
It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t really do anything for me. I thought it needed a little bit more zip so kicking back at the keyboard, I changed the point of view and as a result, the voice… and with it the tone changed in a way I believe is more powerful.
At 6:33 in the morning, I set the table for three with my great-grandmother’s Haviland China and the pair of the Waterford toasting flutes from our wedding ten years prior. In the third spot, I had positioned a silver child’s cup and flatware. The test showed positive last night.
Unable to contain my excitement, I took the stairs two at a time as I went to wake Jason. My plan was to smother him with kisses and then give him the good news as soon as he came down for breakfast and saw the third place setting in the dining room.
He was already in the shower when I reached the master bedroom. Unusual. He never gets up before the alarm at seven o’clock. He must have an early consultation or possibly even a surgery scheduled, I thought. So I did what any wife would do, I picked up his Blackberry to check his calendar. No. Nothing on the schedule. This wasn’t so unusual as Jason could be quite forgetful, but his office secretary wasn’t.
I was about to set the phone down as it chirped for an incoming text message. I read it, put the device back down on the bureau with shaking hands and then slipped unnoticed from the room. He did indeed have an early morning consultation that wasn’t on the schedule.
I trodded slowly downstairs then silently removed the Haviland, the Waterford and the silver cup I bought for the occasion. As I threw them in the trash, I suddenly wished I hadn’t given the maid the day off.
This is only an example of how voice changes a piece. If you are “stuck” on what you are writing, try using a different point of view. Make the trek from first to third or third to first person. It might create a new door where there was once only a wall.