Point of View in Collaborative

Filed under: Point of view

Often seen in: general collaborative; n/a to role-play

Point of view (POV) can be pretty simply in most collaborative exercises on Protagonize, as most a role-plays with one or two characters per person. However, it’s important to remember that ‘collaborative’ also refers to single-character plot with multiple writers writing the same character.

Now, it’s good to be able to write from a singular perspective, even across several authors. True, it takes practise to get a voice going that’s consistent, but this happens in solo work, too. When I first joined Protagonize, there was no ‘exercise’ option and so no definite line between role-play and non-role-play. Now that there is, I’ve noticed the rise in role-play and the decline in single straight voice.

This is fine – as long as first person narration is executed correctly. Like the previous post, I’m talking about head-hopping.

I looked between Abi and Josh as they argued. Josh wanted Abi to be quiet, but Abi wasn’t letting up. It was everything for her to tell him where exactly they stood.

The narrator may know Abi and Josh so very well, but this doesn’t allow the writer to suddenly delve into the minds of people who might be property of another writer or who shouldn’t have any emotional and mental bearing on the ultimate plot. Plus, this can take the reader away from the sense of ‘exclusivity’ with the persona of the narrator, if they are suddenly privy to every desire in the room, not just that of the narrator.

Something that I myself do far too much – and which I wouldn’t recommend! – is adding in an obviously whenever there needs to be some desire told through the eyes of one who doesn’t know it from a personal angle. Why is this not the best writing? Because it’s telling. One thing about POV that collaborative writers often forget is that (often because they’re in a role-play where the rules of writing are somehow different!) the reader doesn’t want to be lumbered with the facts, they want to be able to make their assumptions from the enigmatic characters that come into procession!

Second example:

Abi was my best friend. As she fumed at Josh, it took me every ounce of self-control not to spring at him, too.

“Abi,” Josh muttered. He reached a hand out to her arm, jumping as she smacked it away.

“Don’t you dare touch me, cheater!” As her eyebrows rose, Abi’s hands did, too. Denying myself a smile, I leant forward in anticipation of the explosion of Abi’s temper that would surely come…

In the second example, Abi and Josh become more like the secondary characters they’re meant to be, but readers are still able to receive the dynamics of their relationship. I added dialogue because I felt the scene needed something more than just the description through the narrator. It seems more natural.

By focusing on the scene as a whole and avoiding head-hopping, writers can often add the element of surprise. In the first example, the narrator seems to know exactly how Abi and Josh will always act; in the second, there is only the assumption.

…instead Abi broke down and sunk to the floor, her own hands now tightly wound across her body.

As we’re writing fiction, anything can happen!

The End

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