Arts & Entertainment, Writing
Selecting and Utilizing Point of View
Lesson time 18:01 min
Dan teaches you how to strategically use narrative point of view to maximize suspense, withhold information, and reveal character.
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Topics include: Control the POV • Choose the Character Who Has the Most to Lose or Learn • Experiment With Different POVs • Use POV to Withhold Information • Describe Things That Only Your POV Character Can Know • Use POV to Reveal Character • Be Cognizant of the Information Your Characters Can Access • POV Case Study: Origin
When you study writing, you hear a lot of people talk about "point of view." Point of view is essentially just the eyes through which you're seeing the action. If you're watching a movie, it's the camera. That's the point of view through which you're experiencing whatever is happening in front of you. There are many different ways to use point of view when you're a novelist. You can jump inside everyone's head. You can look at a scene, and say, what point of view do I want to choose? I can be in that person's head, that person's head, that person's head. I can hear their thoughts. I can feel their physical emotions, their physical sensations. And I can tie my reader concretely to this character. And what that's going to do is give the reader the sense that they are living the scene. They're not out here looking in, as you might in a movie. They are living this scene. It's funny, if you see a movie, sometimes, you'll see that camera angle when they decide to sort of have leaves in front of it, and the camera looks up. And it's like, oh, I'm looking through the killer's eyes. That's trying to be a novelist. That's a filmmaker saying, I want to give you the sense that you're the killer or that you're seeing what the killer is seeing. You can do that effortlessly as a writer. You have that set of tools. A very common point of view that young writers will use is what's called an "omniscient narrator." This is the point of view where you can jump into anyone's head, and hover over the action, and really say, well Langdon's thinking this. Sophie's thinking this. Over there, Silas is thinking this. And that's a very powerful way to write a story, meaning that you can see everything at all times. My personal taste, I don't do that. I don't like to do that. I like to be much more controlled in point of view. And let me tell you what that means. Essentially, I decide in each chapter through whose eyes am I going to see this action. I have to choose one person. I only have access to that person's thought, that person's eyes. And if Langdon is the point-of-view character, I know what he's thinking. He's looking at Ambra, and he's saying, she's beautiful, or she's smart, or who is she? I can't, in that same moment tell you what Ambra's thinking. I can say she looks hungry, or she looks frightened. But I can't say Ambra was frightened. I have controlled the point of view, and said, I can only see this through Langdon's eyes. And to my taste, what that does for your reader is to give them a very concrete vehicle through which to experience a chapter. And if you think about it, we as human beings experience the world that way, from one point of view, our point of view. We can't hop around in this omniscient narrator and look in from all angles. All we have is our own point of view. So when you write a scene with multiple characters, and you decide, I'm going to show this scene through this character's mind, this cha...
About the Instructor
Packed with secret symbols and high-stakes suspense, Dan Brown’s thrillers have sold more than 250 million copies and include one of the world’s best-selling novels, The Da Vinci Code. In his writing class, Dan unveils his step-by-step process for turning ideas into gripping narratives. Learn his methods for researching like a pro, crafting characters, and sustaining suspense all the way to a dramatic surprise ending.
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In his first-ever online class, best-selling author Dan Brown teaches you his step-by-step process for turning ideas into page-turning novels.Explore the Class