Announcing two new Christmas short stories, with a Giveaway! (Giveaway details are at the bottom of the post)
Summer wrote about her viewpoint on point of view and I would like to contribute mine.
Jane Austen rarely entered Mr. Darcy’s mind, but devotes a full paragraph to it shortly before Elizabeth and Jane are to leave Netherfield Park.
To Mr. Darcy it was welcome intelligence—Elizabeth had been at Netherfield long enough. She attracted him more than he liked…. He wisely resolved to be particularly careful that no sign of admiration should now escape him, nothing that could elevate her with the hope of influencing his felicity; sensible that if such an idea had been suggested, his behavior during the last day must have material weight in confirming or crushing it. Steady to his purpose, he scarcely spoke ten words to her through the whole of Saturday, and though they were at one time left by themselves for half-an-hour, he adhered most conscientiously to his book, and would not even look at her.
This confirms that Darcy is attracted to Elizabeth and that he is proud. He assumes that any display of interest on his part would attract her. It also speaks to his basic integrity. Many men would not care about the hopes they inadvertently raised.
I often look at scenes from different characters’ points of view. If I am writing a scene between Elizabeth and Darcy, I will usually write it from the point of view of the character whose emotions are the ones I wish to portray. If Elizabeth is attracted to, repelled by, or even indifferent to Darcy in a scene, her point of view is the one I want. If the reader knows that they are now attracted to each other but something is keeping them apart, it isn’t as important whose point of view is used.
If I wish to conceal something a character knows, I cannot use his point of view unless he logically wouldn’t think about what he is thinking at that time. In the above example, it would be ridiculous for Darcy to think, “…and I despise Mr. Wickham because he tried to elope with my fifteen-year-old sister,” especially since Mr. Wickham hasn’t yet come into the neighborhood.
In The Fire at Netherfield Park we used six points of view to portray the fire. The first point of view was from an unimportant added character. There were two choices if we wanted to make it clear that the fire was an accident. We could have a lengthy investigation into the fire or show how the fire started. The lengthy investigation would be unrealistic for the time period, since the fire started in the kitchen.
The other five points of view were used because no one character saw everything. Elizabeth’s point of view is used partially to show her dislike of Darcy and her surprise at his behavior. Darcy’s thoughts were uninteresting at the time. He wanted to save people from the fire and was not particularly concerned about what tools he used. All of that could be inferred from what Elizabeth saw.
In Mr. Collins’ Deception we wrote about a man who was pretending to be something he wasn’t. If the story had not gone into Mr. Collins’ mind, it would have been very boring and somewhat confusing. We tried to make it so his actions were completely logical, consistent with Pride and Prejudice, but interpreted very differently. For example, when Mr. Collins discovered that Lady Catherine gave a one year’s probationary period before she would bestow the living, he prepared before arriving for the interview. He carefully looked around the interview room. At an appropriate time, he said,
“I couldn’t help but notice your magnificent chimney piece. It not only adorns the room, it goes perfectly with the furniture.” I didn’t turn to look at it until after I’d named it, so she’d know I’d noticed it before.
“It should be magnificent. It cost me eight hundred pounds.”
I stifled my shock both at the cost and at her blatant mention of it. “What wonderful taste you have,” I forced myself to say, a year already starting to seem like a longer time than I’d originally thought. “The chimney piece is a superb addition to the chamber. Although I have trouble looking at the room when I want to pay full attention to your questions and your wisdom.”
If the reader is not in Mr. Collins’ mind, the scene would not work.
I usually prefer to read from a single point of view, but as a writer, I find different points of view add to the story. It doesn’t hurt that some readers prefer it.
Do the authors have other reasons for deciding what point of view to use?
Do readers ever think a story would be improved if the author made different decisions as to whose mind they entered?
Now, for the CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY! To celebrate our new Christmas short stories, we’re giving away two kindle copies of each:
- Two kindle copies of Epiphany with Tea
- Two kindle copies of Miss Bingley’s Christmas
To enter, just comment below. The GIVEAWAY will end at midnight EST on Tuesday, December 27th, 2016. Giveaway winners will be announced on Thursday, December 29th.