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Writing Advice from the Bookshelf: Alicia Rasley on Point of View

Friday, August 21, 2015

Excerpt from The Power of Point of View by Alicia Rasley:

Power of POV

What POV Can Do for Your Story
In order to maximize the impact POV has on your readers, an understanding of its potential is essential. The choices you make regarding POV have the power to do the following:

1. Give readers the vicarious experience of a certain perspective on an event (such as what the Battle of Waterloo felt like from the trenches with the privates or from headquarters with the generals). This broadens readers’ worldviews by allowing them to explore how someone other than themselves—the POV character—thinks and feels and perceives reality. This insight provides clues as to who a character is and how perspective affects his behavior.

2. Create an interactive experience of the story, by inviting the readers to participate with the characters and second-guess their decisions and actions.

3. Increase reader identification, so the POV character’s goals and conflicts become, for the moment, important to the readers (which keeps them turning pages).

4. Convey (or conceal) information that is known to a particular character in order to create affiliation (or suspense) with the readers.

5. Individualize characters and distinguish them from each other by showing how differently each feels and thinks about the same event.

6. Provide the contrast between the apparent and the internal in order to create subtext. POV can create tension between what the character says and what she means; between her vision and reality; between what is said and what is interpreted.

Work Cited:

Rasley, Alicia. The Power of Point of View: Make Your Story Come to Life. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books, 2008. 13–14. Print.

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