(MA) DTLT: TECW – Week 24 – Point of View in Creative Writing

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Initial Thoughts on PoV

Before reading the Jauss (2000) article, in my mind I had defined “…point of view in terms of ‘person’, focusing on the angle of perception -who tells the story- instead of the various degrees of depth available within that angle.” For the first draft of my short story, I had used a multiple perspective approach, switching PoVs between the protagonist and the creature. I did this for dramatic effect, to slowly build tension. (I didn’t know if it would work, but I wanted to try!). However, this required deft handling, and due to lack of consistency, I think I left you confused as to what was going on. In this way, and due to your feedback, I had wanted to consider just one special narrative voice, in my second draft, to avoid said confusion.

New Understanding of PoV

 That said, in his article entitled From Long Shots to X-Rays: Distance & Point of View in Fiction Writing, Jauss (2000) also puts forward the idea that a certain amount of inconsistency or shift in point of view can help the writer to achieve certain subtle dramatic effects: “…the most important purpose of point of view is to manipulate the degree of distance between the characters and the reader in order to achieve the emotional, intellectual, and moral responses the author desires.” Jauss reveals techniques narrators use which can decrease and increase distance, allowing us to sometimes be both outside and within a character, and others that take us entirely inside. Language use is also important: that of the narrator, which keeps us ‘outside’ and that of the character, keeping us ‘inside’.

Is the Best Writing Technique the Truth?

 As I said above, Jauss believes we need to focus on the techniques a writer uses and not his person: “It seems we can’t understand how point of view actually works in fiction until we put more emphasis on technique than we do on Truth”. An interesting point – as I have stated before how I feel unable to write unless it contains some truth, something real that I am aware of or which I have experienced. In some way I feel that if what I write is ‘real’ then it is somehow correct or better. Does anyone else feel the same way?

Incorporating PoV in a Foreign Language Class

 In terms of using distance in a language class – perhaps students could read a simple, short story about two people, from one point of view, the ‘outside’, lets say. And then are asked to re-write it from the other two point of views. (This is a very vague lesson plan that I will flesh out soon!)

 How Distance and PoV will effect my Future Writing

Overall, the distance and PoV concepts seems to be quite complex! Discussing this topic with my tutor brought to my attention that “…shifts tend to happen towards the end of the story, never from paragraph to paragraph or within the same paragraph and are very subtle.” This is good advice as I was shifting PoV in every paragraph of my short story. Now I’m going to work on primarily having one narrative voice when writing the second draft, while considering how to incorporate a subtle shift in PoV to manipulate the distance between the reader and character towards the end of the story.

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