Writing Prompt: Point of View

This is one of those difficult things to decide when you’re working on a story. Do I tell it from the first person point of view or the third? Can I tell it from the point of view of multiple characters, or do I stick to one voice?

One way of helping to solve the matter is to try writing a scene from multiple points of view and them deciding which is going to work best. Here’s an example of a scene from two points of view.

1. First Person

Although the invitation said 730pm, I was late. Between the horrid traffic and the delays on the tube, It was nearly 530pm by the time I got to the flat. I ran up the steps, kicking off my shoes as soon as I got to the bedroom and threw open the wardrobe. I kept all of my party dresses in a beige garment bag mother gave me when I got my first job and they popped out as soon as I opened the zipper. Whatever  chose had to be perfect. After 20 years, I couldn’t risk not looking fabulous in front of my old classmates. There was also a good chance he’d be there. Just thinking of him made me nervous. I tried on the red dress first and realised that I looked not only lie I was trying too hard, but like someone you’re proposition on the corner by Earl’s Court Station at midnight. I immediately shed the dress and tried the straight black one, then the blue one with the drop neck, then the white trouser suit, then finally, settled on the black mini dress. It had a high collar and fit slim and stylishly on me. It was perfect, just elegant enough to make him realised what he was missing.

When I got to the country cub, I had one final check on the ladies room, sprayed one light coat of perfume on my neck, then wandered in. As though waiting for me, though I knew he couldn’t have been, Jonathan was there, just inside the door with a glass of champagne in his hand. I clocked the wedding ring on his finger, looked at his face and when he smiled at me in recognition, I walked to him and said hello.

“Hi May”. He said. There was nothing in the way that he said it that could give me a hint as to whether or not he was happy to see me.

2. Third Person

May rushed home from the office.  Between the heavy traffic from the station and the delays on the tube, there was little time to get ready.  Although the invitation said 730pm, it was clear from her arrival home, still needing to select an outfit at 530pm, that she would be arriving late. When she reached her flat, she belted up the stairs, removing her shoes as soon as she reached the top and began to pull apart her wardrobe. At the back of the wardrobe was the beige garment bag May’s mother had given her when she got her first job. Inside she housed her collection of party dresses. She would have to choose her dress with care. There was a chance he would be there and after 20 years, she wanted to look nothing less than fabulous and remind him of all that he had missed. The first dress was red and signalled a sort of desperation, along with a look of someone better suited on the corner of Earl’s Court Station after midnight. No, she though, it would have to be more subdued. The next selection was simple and black, but made her look plain. The outfits that followed, blue, trouser suit, and other random garments she selected were all wrong. She finally settled on a black mini dress that was stylish with a high neck.

When she arrived at the county club, she dashed into the ladies room and, having a final look in the mirror, she sprayed some perfume on her neck then went to the hall where the party was underway.

Inside, Jonathan stood by the door, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, nervously sipping champagne and waiting. He had not seen May since their last awful meeting 20 years before and hoped that the passage of time would have allowed her to forgive him. He also was afraid to hope that she was still be as lovely as he remembered. Had time been kind to her? More importantly, had it been kind to him? He glanced at a mirror that hung near the door. What would she think of the grey that had invaded the hair at the sides of his head? The hair on top of his head remained black and mercifully, he had not begun to lose it. Part of him hoped she was fifty pounds heavier and married with a dozen children. As though the fates were listening to him private thoughts, the door opened and she wandered in. He held his breath as she walked directly towards him, searching his face. She was lovelier then he remembered and he knew that he would never get out of the evening gracefully.

“Hello Jonathan.” she said.

“Hi May.”

So, in this instance, you have the advantage of getting to follow a character through the story and it can be easier to write. However, it is more limiting than being able to write from multiple points of view, giving the reader an insight that the characters can see.

Have a go at writing some scenes using multiple points of view and see where they take you. Enjoy.

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