June meeting – points of view

This month we met at Sophie’s house to talk about points of view. One member had completed the feedback exercise so we started with a discussion of that – the piece told the same tale from the point of view of the mother and then of the child. Both were written in the first person. We talked about the different perspectives the points of view brought to the story and discussed which we thought made the story most effective.

We then moved onto take a look at the books that others had brought along in the context of how the choice of point of view and narrator impacted the story. We noted that without the child perspective given by Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird the novel would have had a very different slant – the perspective of an adult on the events would have been very different to that brought by Scout.

The view of the second Mrs De Winter in Rebecca enables tension to build throughout the book. A narrator who already knew about Rebecca and Maxim’s marriage would not have been able to tell the story in quite the same way. Telling it from the perspective of a naïve second wife meant that the story could unfold as she discovered more about Rebecca, the secrets of Manderley and her husband.

We also talked about the interesting perspective of a sentient ship in Ancillary Justice. Quite apart from the ability of Ann Leckie to get the reader to identify with a ship as the main  character, the use of the ship as the narrator enabled parts of the story to be told in many different locations and over thousands of years and yet all using first person point of view.

It was a fascinating discussion and reminded me of that fact that now I’ve started writing, I look at books so very differently. Before I would have read a book and enjoyed it without thinking about what it was that made the author decide to tell the story from the point of view chosen or what additional insights (or lack thereof) the choice of narrator brings to the story.

We also discussed spending some of the Group’s money at the June meeting and are thinking about running an off-site writing day. More about that to follow!

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 18th July when Alice Clark-Platts will be running a workshop on plotting for us. Alice’s novel, The Taken, was recently shortlisted for the award for Best Police Procedural in the Dead Good Reader Awards.

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