Made in America

Writing Exercise: Point of View

Every person you come across in the world is utterly unique. They each have their own upbringings, experiences, public thoughts, private thoughts, fears, dreams, loves, and losses that work together to make up who they are. Every person has a whole world inside them and, as writers, it’s our job to know the worlds of each of our characters.

One of the ways we do this is through Point of View. While it’s true that a book will typically only take place through one or two POV’s, that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to only be aware of those people’s worlds. Each person will experience moments differently or have different motives that cause them to operate within a certain space. It’s your job as a writer to know how everyone is thinking and feeling and why at every moment. Pretty simple, right?

small dive bar

Remember our dialogue exercise? If you haven’t completed that one yet, follow the link here because we’re going to use it again. If you need a refresher, here are the specs:

Setting: A small dive bar, midday on a Sunday afternoon. The bar is scarce, just a few patrons. There are two younger men who seem to know each other, but it appears everyone else came alone. Most of them are older men, in their early 50’s. The bartender is a relatively handsome young man in his early twenties.

Point of view glasses
Character One: A young man in his mid-twenties. He loves classic rock and country music, just graduated from a nearby college with a degree in Creative Writing, and he grew up in Texas.

Character Two: A young woman in her early twenties, currently attending a nearby college and aiming to graduate a semester early. She’s double-majoring in business and communications and her favorite shows are House of Cards and Grey’s Anatomy.

Character Three: A middle-aged man with a military history. He has a wife and two kids, grew up in the south, loves watching Sons of Anarchy and The Sopranos. He’s currently trying to quit smoking.

Point of view wine glass

1) Select one of the scenes of dialogue that you’ve already written. Select one of the two characters in that scene and write the scene from that person’s point of view. Remember, think about how they’re perceiving what is said, what they see, etc. And don’t forget to also consider how the other person in this scene is reacting and feeling about what is said, what they see, etc.

2) Take that same scene and these same lines and rewrite the piece again from the other character’s point of view. Differentiate between the first perspective as much as possible. Create misunderstandings, missed opportunities, etc., so the reader can see a clear difference between how the first and second person felt about this conversation and why.

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