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Interesting lesson in perspective yesterday. My daughter was in a…

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Interesting lesson in perspective yesterday.

My daughter was in a dance concert on the weekend (don't worry, I'm not going to talk about that) and my father videoed her. Of course, she is centre stage in the video; if she's on the stage, she's in the video.

Yesterday we saw the dance company's version of the concert.

My daughter barely features. When she's on stage, there's a long shot of all the littlies dancing; no close ups.

It all depends on who's holding the camera, doesn't it?

Writing is very much like this. The story changes depending on who's point of view you're taking. That may seem like a very obvious statement, but it's an important one. You need to pick the right person to tell the story.

Do you pick an observer, who sees all? Or someone with a lot to lose if the truth is told? Do you pick a person who knows all, or someone with deep-set prejudices which cloud their vision?

History is like this, too. Ask any two people who witness an event and their descriptions will differ.

It's all very fascinating.
  • PoV

    Great analogy! I hope to make use of it in the "Intro to Lit" class for next semester. Another interesting parallel would be that many viewers of TV, let alone of home videos, are fooled into forgetting that there IS a point-of-view, thinking of the camera's eye as objective, all-seeing (is it a coincidence that America's CBS logo always looked like Sauron's Lidless Eye?). Pay no attention to the man behind that curtain!
    Similarly naive readers of fiction just assume that it's all truth, that no one is withholding any information from them. The concept of point-of-view is one of the hardest to get across to those who never write fiction (and rarely read it unless forced). Then when they do identify first person, they automatically think it's autobiography (So, I said, how did Poe manage to write other stories after he lost his mind in "The Tell-Tale Heart"?)
    • Re: PoV

      I love your Poe story! Do your students make sense of POV once you point that out?

      I guess it's a movie makers job to give that sense of objectivity. It's part of the trick of story telling, to do that seamlessly. You withhold, without seeming to withhold.

      One of the things I look for in fiction is that 'sucking in'. Where you are totally drawn into the POV of the character, and can then be shocked when the truth is revealed.

      I also like to write from the POV of the 'bad guy'. To try to make the actions of that person acceptable, or at least understandable, before saying, "Are you kidding? You can't possible think that's okay!"

      I wonder if you could give your "Intro to Lit" class a photographic assignment, where they each take a camera and capture images of a specified thing; a rubbish dump, or a dirty wall, or a beautiful house. Then you could see how each different POV comes up with a different image.

      I recently had a story of mine photographed by a photography class. I only saw three responses, and they very different. Each had taken a different angle of the story and captured images to match. Very interesting!
      • Re: PoV

        That's a great idea--until last year would have been impossible, but now most of them are allowed to use cellphones, and many have cameras, so they could send image electronically. As I recall, the Poe student not only did not see the light--he went on to do a similarly autobiographical reading of "Annabel Lee" (but what about lying by her side in her tomb by the sounding sea, I asked, despairingly?) Ah well, at least I could tell him that Poe's reputation for necrophiliac acts stemmed from nineteenth-century readers who had the same problems with literary analysis.
        • Re: PoV

          I can understand why people might be confused by 'rite of passage' or 'coming of age' novels, thinking they are autobiographical. But it's hard to imagine any one really believes (or believed!) that Poe really endured all his protags endured! To think that poor Edgar really did lie beneath the pendulum, nibbled by rats! Oh, the pain.
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