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Now that you’ve decided who is going to be telling your reader your story, let’s take a closer look at the technical aspects of how that story is going to be conveyed, and what the impacts of these technical choices may be on a reader’s experience.
Point of View (who is telling your story)
The Point-of-View (POV) is the perspective lens through which your reader witnesses and experiences the tale. But the way that lens is constructed is important, too, and worth some conscious and deliberate decision-making. Each POV has different strengths, so consider them carefully.
Scope of View (how much do they know)
Tense (how immediate is the experience)
Mix in a shaker
You can mix and match POV, tense and scope, and I recommend you play around with different combinations until you find something that clicks, and feels right for your character and story.
Direct the reader’s experience
As much as I’ve been saying that the narrator is the lens through which the reader views a story in this series, don’t forget that you, the author, are the glassmaker. The deliberate choices you make in terms of tense and POV will influence the reader’s understanding of your narrative, your characters, and your world.
For example: in my novel The Untold Tale, the narrator character Forsyth is a fictional creation who only later learns that he is not real. I made a deliberate choice to have him narrate the tale in First Person Present Tense Limited. Why? Because I wanted to convey a sense of immediacy to the reader. This narrator is a construct that only exists in the moment on the page, and this choice of “I” and “now” helps to solidify that.
Whether they’re conscious of it or not, making concerted and deliberate choices about tense and POV will influence your reader’s experience of your tale.
Think about the latest book you read or the one you're reading now. Who is the narrator? Is the story told through a character's voice or through an omniscient one? Is the story written in present tense or past tense? Does the narrator know what the other characters are thinking, or is it a mystery to them? Now, why do you think the author chose to write the book this way? What would change in the story if any one of these details were different?
Narrative Voice: Point of View and Tenses? is the sixth post in an nine part series.
Also in this series:
Part 1: Who Is Telling Your Story
Part 2: Using More Than One Narrator
Part 3: Creating a Narrative Voice
Part 4: What is an Unreliable Narrator
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