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Arts & Entertainment

Selecting and Utilizing Point of View

Dan Brown

Lesson time 18:02 min

Dan teaches you how to strategically use narrative point of view to maximize suspense, withhold information, and reveal character.

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Dan Brown
Teaches Writing Thrillers
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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...


Craft page-turning suspense

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.



Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I enjoyed the class. Lots of helpful tips on suspense and withholding information. The self-doubt pep talk was also very helpful. Thank you, Katryna Ormiston

Can't begin to describe how valuable this class was. Life-changing.

Wow. Unbelievable class, very well done. Dan Brown is engaging, open and motivating!

I learned a lot about how to create suspense and how everyday is a story based on how we view it thank you masterclass


Comments

Mike

Great lesson by Dan. I loved the idea of writing out a brief purpose for your chapter before you start it. This has been a very helpful practice for me thus far. It is always a struggle to start a new chapter and making it feel fresh, so I appreciate this tidbit from the lesson. Even though I'm not musical, I found Dan's comparison to pacing your scenes and story to music very interesting and accessible to my non-musical mind, as he used clear, popular examples like "Alleluia" to illustrate his point about tension and release for the listener, and concurrently, the reader. Great stuff here in this lesson!

Quendrith J.

Here's my Thank You, Dan Brown, POV Unicorn, lolz, just an exercise here: The Birdsong Unicorns by [Her Niece, Dedicated to Her Aunt = my byline] "Bon-Bon lived alone on a 500 yard stretch of ill-fitted land the majority of which ran up a small hillock known as The Big Rock. One day a rickety horse trailer arrived pulled by Matt's Chevy pick-up truck. Bon-Bon was not particularly interested in Matt, a muscular man of indeterminate age by Unicorn Standards, However, this human man had a small companion, offspring he must have sired by the Dam often seen in his company, a wiry female human person of little note to Bon-Bon also. But, their small human person girl named Haley, after the comet, did quite interest Bon-Bon, as the Unicorn felt that she may be part of a Larger Destiny, as unicorns often imagine of humans, being useless otherwise. Matt maneuvered the shaky horse-trailer with German precision into the back paddock. He had delivered Bon-Bon to Birdsong, as the owners called it, last year in the middle of a rain storm, under a slight bit of thunder and lightning. He'd been afraid they might get struck, or that this idiot animal might bolt. His daughter Haley kept the furry captive under control. Somehow, girl and the unshorn fuzz ball known as "Bon-Bon," which he thought was a ridiculous name, had bonded. Matt remembered how difficult it was to get Haley back in the pick-up after they dropped off Bon-Bon. Not just because they had dropped her off into an empty puddling barren field, with only one bale of alfalfa, but because Haley was afraid Bon-Bon would be lonely. He could only get Haley back into the passenger seat after she had tied several of her own hair ribbons into Bon-Bon's dripping fleece. Matt stared hard at the newcomer in the side view mirror. He had not even met the owners yet, but was somehow paid in cash each time by a hanging boot stuffed with a Wells Fargo envelope. Cash was certainly king, he thought..." PS, my Aunt died 6/11 - this is kind of childlike as she was, sigh.

A. Manibus

So far, Mr. Brown's has been one of the most helpful courses I've taken; clear, concise, well organized, and so very friendly. In applying his advice, I've already noticed less stress in trying to outline and write my own stories (knowing where and what my end 'is' and 'is not' was so key!). Thank you so much! Also, for some reason, I can only download a condensed version of the workbook. Is there a way to obtain a full version, or at least the missing chapters between "Writing Chapters and Scenes" and "The Secret of Secrets?" This stuff is all real gold. Thank you! -A.M-

A fellow student

Hi! I love the lesson. Please, could you email me the section of POV that should be in the workbook? It isn't there. Thanks a lot!

Rose M.

I like the thought feel technique POV to help reader stay with the narrative. I have appreciated Dan teaching past lessons, this lesson is amazing.

Kseni L.

He's an amazing teacher! Brilliant. And so kind and it's impotent. Thank you.

Danny T.

John (or other community moderator), can I be emailed / sent the complete workbook as well, please?

Adrian

I wasn't expecting to find this module interesting, but Dan's use of practical examples to show the purpose of choosing, and shifting, point of view was very valuable. Great explanation.

A fellow student

Hey! These lessons are so awesome!! I was just wondering if anyone knew what the songs were that they play for the chapter headings?

Jennifer

Yes, can the workbook be updated, please? It goes from "Writing Chapters and Scenes" on pages 56-59 of the PDF to "Secrets of Secrets" on 60-62; then, the closing page is 63.