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Point of View | StoryADay 2024 Day 13

Getting creative with voice

The Prompt

Write a story about a character with a big decision to make. Write it in a point of view you don’t often use.

Things To Consider

I’m giving your character a big decision to make. You get to decide how much backstory the reader needs (and when they need to know it), but I will make a plea for NOT starting your story with any of that information. Start us in the middle of the action: during a conversation, or as they enter a new room. (need more on openings? Review this)

On Point of View

Many of us default to a particular point of view in our writing — “I don’t know what to say.” (First person), or “She didn’t know what to say.” (third person).
Today, I want you to write in a point of view you don’t often use, or that you find awkward. (Yes, I’m asking you to get comfortable with discomfort!)

A quick review of points of view

Each point of view brings with it restrictions and possibilities. If you frequently write in the same point of view you may be limiting yourself and run into trouble when a particular story idea seems to call for a different ‘voice’.

Try to focus on the opportunities that this new perspective offers. If you’re shifting from third person omniscient to a limited/first person perspective, really dig into the opportunity to access the characters’ thoughts and emotions. In these more limited perspective there’s no excuse for “Telling Not Showing”. Everything can be written as if we’re riding along on the perspctive-character’s shoulder, experiencing everything with them.

If you’re moving from a limited perspective to a third person omniscient, celebrate the fact that you can now see things from different peoples’ perspectives. The most effective, least confusing way to do this is to have scene breaks between each head hop in the short story. (You probably don’t want to do it more than a couple of times in a short story, but it can be quite fun to have most of the story told one person’s perspective then have a line break and give another character’s perspective as the conclusion of the story revealing a lot about the truth of the situation that, perhaps, the first character didn’t know.)

If you hate moving away from your favorite point of view that’s fine. You don’t ever have to do it again. Sometimes creative failures are essential to teach you what to avoid in future.

Leave a comment and let us know how it went!


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13

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31 thoughts on “Point of View | StoryADay 2024 Day 13”

  1. I started writing in the waiting room of my doctors office. (I have multiple appointments because of a shoulder injury). I wound up changing it up some while waiting to get my MRI.
    My struggle: I aways write in third person. I don’t feel comfortable writing in first person but I did it today. Not really sure if I like it but I did it and finished it.

  2. I didn’t do a story yesterday because I was doing Mother’s Day stuff with my kiddo, so I combined the prompts for the last two days.

    Starting in the middle is actually a normal thing for me to do as the “middle” is frequently where the story actually gets interesting. The unfamiliar POV was more of a challenge. Since I bounce around between first and both types of third, I was left with second. It was fun, but it’s a hard voice to maintain for long.

    https://www.tumblr.com/andybwriting/750385494576218112/should-i-stay-or-should-i-go?

    1. Andy, I found myself tumbling through your log.

      I like the spin/ref to hitch hikers, also the situation of your character, for simply disappearing from everyone else’s perspective, and then the mention of the cat, I found myself thinking of cat from Red Dwarf.

    1. ‘The End’ is so final on a memoir, when it’s not.
      Loved the questioning, the decision required.
      It emphasised that it’s not ‘The End’, but the start, always starting.

  3. I wrote in third person omniscient, just because I usually use either first person or third person limited. The important decision was a boy’s choice of ice cream when taking a girl out on a first date. (His friends had told him that the ice cream you choose sends a message to your date.) The omniscient POV enabled me to comment on the characters, mostly through word choice. Definitely not a keeper, but fun to do.

  4. Got my story written early today, thanks to the Bonus Writing Dates I’m running for people who upgraded to the Challenge Handbook (you can still do that, and join us, by the way!)

    I wrote from the perspective of a dressage horse, who, of course, used the Royal ‘we’ 😉

    I doubt I will “do” anything with this story but it did form an alternate perspective on a scene I want to write for a novel I’m working on. (Nothing is every wasted!)

    1. The challenge sounds tempting, my challenge though is the time to do the listening, warmups etc. so I found myself I. The merch store…

  5. I couldn’t help myself, I think it was something in the prompt, or Rathin’s interpretation into the 2nd person so I took an idea from my backlog and wrote it in the 2nd person (Like Rathin, not a strength).

    So you learnt a few days ago, that you have a shadow, well less that you learnt that you had a shadow, you’ve known that for years, ever since you were a little kid. What’s more, over the last couple of days you learnt, and come to realise your shadow is unlike others.
    The trick, though, is what do you do with this? You spend the first couple of days experimenting every moment you get. Sort of like a kid addicted to a mobile phone told that their not to use it. You find yourself distracted by your shadow at every moment.
    Studying, no, learning how to use it. Thinking about it constantly, distracted by it. Wondering, thinking learning how to manipulate it, make it do what you want it to do.
    The first time you succeeded was when you were holding your hands up, thumbs intertwined, fingers spread as you made a shadow butterfly on the wall, backlit, no, projected by your daughter’s bedlight as you tried to settle her down for the evening.
    Even now, you smile, a flush filling you from your chest to the tips of your hair when you recall the joy when your shadow butterfly broke free and flittered its way up the wall before disappearing in the shadows. “Again mum, Again!’, and you did.
    The second time, you’d locked the keys in the car, a furtive glance about, no one about, no one to see or even recognise what was going on. And you simply had your shadow pop the lock, wa la, the door was open, keys retrieved and you were on your way.
    What is this you wonder, is it a superpower? A blessing? Or a curse?
    You’ve thought about ‘invisibility’ before, the thought of how it could corrupt, the reality of being good with such power was the challenge. Is this the same, is your shadow ability something like this?
    And that is where you are stuck now, a shadow power and not knowing what to do.

    https://afstoryaday.blogspot.com/2024/05/day-13-shadow-power.html

    1. Lovely, Andrew. Though let me tell you that I had to read it thrice, including the blog post, to get at the basic concept behind the story. And even after the third reading, it will be boisterous of me to say that I got your story perfectly.
      Anyway, I would very much like to know who the “You” in your story refers to. Does it refer to woman in the first place? A mom, most probably. Because normally moms settle their kids down in bed.
      The next paragraph with the butterfly shadow is a beauty as we all can relate to it. I had a question cropping up in my mind though when the butterfly vanished in the shadows up the wall.
      But the climax came when “You” made the shadow retrieve the locked car key. I couldn’t help asking myself, “Wai, hang on a sec here. What’s happening, bro?”
      So, the “You” in the story is blessed with a superpower and confused about how to make the best use of it, right?
      While going through your story, time and again I was reminded of another called “Footprints without Feet” by H.G.Wells. It had all to do with the discovery of a scientist regarding how to make himself invisible. He, of course, did more harm than good to the society.
      I liked your conclusion wherein the protagonist is left with self-doubt about the usage of invisibility as well.
      Keep writing and entertaining. God bless you always.

      1. Rathin, the you is the reader in this case.

        I read your note re second person, though hey, let me give that a go, so looked up a description and got this from the miriam-Webster site.

        Second-person narration is a little-used technique of narrative in which the action is driven by a character ascribed to the reader, one known as you. The reader is immersed into the narrative as a character involved in the story. The narrator describes what “you” do and lets you into your own thoughts and background.

    2. Oh.. That sounds really convenient. Until you lose control of it and your shadow starts smacking into things you didn’t want to hit…

      I can see a lot of possibilities for the power maybe not being so awesome. And then what? You never go into full light again? I’m allergic to sunlight, so can tell you it’s harder to avoid than you might think. And that’s just the sun. Avoiding anything that might lead to shadows would be seriously limiting.

      And yet, properly used, a full second set of hands would be lovely. (At least until the clouds shift and the tray they were carrying plunges to the ground…)

  6. Did a list story and in 2nd person, since I write in both 1st and 3rd but never 2nd. A list of pros and cons for Lou to investigate a murder, and then they toss the list, because they were always going to investigate. 140 words

    1. Ha! Yes, the decision is usually made before we’re willing to admit that the decision is made…

  7. I enjoyed the challenge of this one for me. I used to always write in third person but within the last few months I’ve been working heavily with first person. I tried third perspective again for this one and it turned out extremely clunky and choppy… looks like I’m a bit rusty and need to work more again in third person!! My biggest challenge is conveying show don’t tell because that I find a lot easier in first perspective. I need to go and finish my story and will probably rework it a few times.

    1. Oh, how interesting that you were rusty after taking a break from that perspective, and that ‘show, don’t tell’ comes easier in first person.
      I’m sure, having spotted that, you’ll be able to translate whatever you do in First, to Third…

  8. I like to think of myself as a writer. I have written innumerable stories. Mostly in the First or Third Person. I find myself out of my comfort zone the moment I have to try writing a story in the Second Person.
    I have tried to write one this time around. Hope you like it.
    For YOU, TRISHA :

    Dear Trisha,

    The grapevine has it that you are getting married. Congratulations. Lucky will be the man who has you as his life partner as you are one of a kind.

    Before proceeding any further, it is time for you to know about the boy who had fallen flat for you the first time he set his eyes on you. Do you ever, even for a minute, think of him?

    Trisha, you liked him a lot at the first sight. Because his cousin, Sudipa came running down the stairs to inform him that you were mighty impressed. Sudipa had shown his photograph to you.
    “He’s a good-looking bloke. Look at his eyes behind the glasses,” you were reported to have said, “ they are so expressive, have such depths. And what to tell about the crops of jet black, curly hair that give his personality a uniqueness I’ve rarely seen on a boy his age!”

    Sudipa came racing down breathlessly and shared all this with her cousin.
    That was the beginning.

    The boy made a great mistake before a memorable love story could have unfolded…..

    Your next encounter with the boy happened when on a moon-lit evening, you two ran up the wooden staircase to the rooftop. You were playing Hide and Sick. There was a bright moon shining overhead that overshadowed all the other stars. Cut off from the rest, you two had a first time heart-to-heart talk about friends, your school (the boy rarely talked about his as he thought his Bengali-medium background would lower his status in your eyes) and yes, love.

    The cousin made a mistake that night. After you had left, he told Sudipa that you had openly expressed your head over heels state to him, which was a lie as all you stated was that you liked him.

    You stopped looking at his direction from then on. He simply ceased to exist for you from then on. At least, that was the impression you gave.

    What had to happen, happened on Sudipa’s birthday. Sudipa’s parents, being rich, invited the whole neighborhood. You, being the cynosure of the party, were asked to sing an English number. Before you sang that popular Phil Collins number, you had made sure that the boy was excluded from all the fun. He went out before you had finished uttering your sentence : “I’d only sing if someone goes out of the room….”

    Sudipa and a few other friends had known of the souring relationship between you two by then. He, a picture of pain, left the hall without any complaints.
    He loved you that much, Trisha, Do you have any idea how much you meant to him? How he would have given his right arm just to hold you tight in his arms and whisper those four words?

    All love stories, unfortunately, do not have a happy ending. While there came a dip in his performances, you went on to achieve one milestone after another in your life – your graduation, Master’s in Competative Literature from CU, your first job as the English Teacher of SP, your alma mater and so on. The boy was even aware of the marriage proposal that was put forward to your parents by a relative with her brother, who was an engineer. The relative had been bowled over by your beauty – your oval face, doelike eyes, your sparkling smile that would light up any dark or drab place with that chiselled figure of yours to boot, a figure that would put many of the apsaras to shame. You though, had no hesitation in turning down the proposal.

    The boy was aware of all this and much more. In fact, he had seen something for him to be hopeful about in your rejection of such a lucrative offer. Poor man ( the boy had turned a man by then)! Little did he know that he had ceased to exist in your scheme of things by then.

    In your last meeting with him just during Sudipa’s wedding, while the bearers were carrying the gifts to the groom’s house, something akin to an electric current passed between you two, as you passed a tray on to him to be transported to the car waiting outside. Long afterwards, he caressed that hand with the other thinking of your touch all along.

    On your last meeting, you found him sitting lonely leaning against the railings of their veranda. With his head shaven (he had lost his mother, someone he had been extremely fond of), he craved for care, concern and companionship. When he chanced to see you climbing down the steps on your way to the spacious dining room of Sudipa’s parents, he tried looking more lost than he actually was. He was heartbroken, no doubt. Remember, he had lost someone who had meant the world to him. He felt lonely with that feeling of emptiness gnawing inside at his terrible loss. He wanted someone, someone as tender and delicate as you are, to lend a shoulder to lean on.

    You didn’t overlook him exactly but you were too busy in chartering your own love-tale to really bother much about his tragedy.

    Some months after Sudipa’s marriage, you got married to your Prince Charming, so he learnt from Sudipa. The groom was the CEO of a reputed company. You, being the only child of your widowed father, he spent lavishly to make your wedding a grand success.

    The marriage was the talk of the town for months.

    That was the last the boy heard of you, Trisha. A well-known, graying writer now, he never stops thinking of you while traveling by bus past the bylane that leads to your house. He isn’t sure if anyone of your relatives stays there any more or not. His thinks fondly of you whenever he hears someone talking about another beauty, full of charm, charisma and grace.

    If there is another life and God, Trisha, you’ll be the one pining for his love then with the exception that the boy will still be loving you….

    The end

      1. Oh, thank you so much, Julie. I learned that I can write in the second person too. It’s not really such a big deal.
        And many thanks to you, Julie. Without the prompt, I would have never tried my hand at writing a story using the Second Person PoV.
        Keep touching and inspiring a million hearts. Best wishes.

  9. The first time you hear him speak you realize he’s all you’ve been looking for. You’re mesmerized by his nerdy sense of humor, his sweet blue eyes, skin so white next to his black hair. Usually you don’t like beards but for once you do. You like his clean soap smell. His voice. His slow, drawn-out laugh. You have so much in common, as well. Books. Chess. Cooking.
    You’d made your decision and gotten everything ordered for your big day.
    But you weren’t counting on meeting HIM. In four months you’ll walk down the aisle.
    You aren’t surprised when Mr. Right here asks you to dinner tonight. You have a decision to make.

    1. That’s a nice one, Valerie, based on the common theme of triangular love, I believe.
      The last paragraph coupled with the last sentence sums it all up beautifully.
      You have a decision to make conveys a lot more to a seasoned reader.
      Keep writing and making a difference. Best wishes.

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