Have you ever looked at somebody and thought, â€œThat person is so weird.â€Â Not just weird, but mystifying.Â â€œWhat must be going through that personâ€™s head?Â What kind of person would want to live that way?â€Â Maybe itâ€™s your neighborâ€™s daughter with the jet-black hair, nose ring, and wall-to-wall tattoos.Â Maybe itâ€™s your late-middle-aged church-going loan officer whoâ€™s in a gay marriage.
Now, have you ever wondered, â€œDoes that person think Iâ€™m just as weird?â€Â Do you ever imagine that person thinking something along the lines of, â€œWhatâ€™s with that guy with the piercing eyes who never smiles and never uses a wrong word?Â I wonder what itâ€™s like to be that smart.Â Heâ€™s creepy.Â Itâ€™s like he knows what Iâ€™m thinking.Â Maybe heâ€™s a serial killer.â€
Now, have you ever thought, â€œThat would make a good story.â€
If thatâ€™s the case, then your narrative point-of-view of choice might be Anonymous Narrator, Dual Character Point of View.
- As with our previous POV, the narrator is anonymous;Â the narrator isnâ€™t a specific person and isnâ€™t involved in the story.
- The narrator, and thus the reader, is privy to the thoughts and motives of two of the characters. Â For this form to work, the story pretty much has to unfold in discrete, alternating sections.Â A section is told from one personâ€™s point of view, a subsequent section is from the other personâ€™s point of view, and so on, back and forth.
- As I said last time, an easy way to think of this is to say that the narrator is the author, who knows whatâ€™s going on inside these two peopleâ€™s heads because s/he invented them.
As our text says, examples of this technique are fairly hard to come by, because of the rather specific purpose to which it applies.Â The only example I can think of off the top of my head (I read it 40 years ago, so I hope Iâ€™m right) is the novel Point-Counterpoint by Aldous Huxley.Â I read two of the four examples in our text: â€œSinking Houseâ€ by T.C. Boyle, and â€œStrong Horse Teaâ€ by Alice Walker. Both are original, haunting, and achingly beautiful.Â The other two stories there are â€œThe Only Roseâ€ by Sarah Orne Jewett and â€œUglypussâ€ by Margaret Atwood.Â As you can see, two of these can be read online if you donâ€™t have the book, and I strongly suggest you do that.Â If you want to be a good writer, you must be a voracious reader.
If you decide to take this on, I suggest that, after reading a couple examples, you begin by inventing the two characters.Â Think about what would make it interesting for us to see Alice from Bettyâ€™s point of view and vice versa.
I myself have been wanting to write a mystery story, which would be my first serious one.Â Iâ€™ve now missed Andrea/Patriciaâ€™s â€œLetâ€™s Focus On Mysteryâ€ Friday prompt, and Mondayâ€™s deadline for Gregâ€™s â€œTry Something Newâ€ prompt is fast approaching, butâ€”oh well!Â Iâ€™ve been wracking my brain and Iâ€™ve gotten as far as sketching out a possible concept/premise/twist.Â If this particular concept turns into something, todayâ€™s POV technique might be a terrific way to approach it, it occurs to me.Â So Iâ€™m going to try to make that happen in the next two weeks, right along with you.
Prose: Write a story using the narrative technique of Anonymous Narrator, Dual Character POV.
Poetry:Â Refer to the July 1 column.
- PutÂ SunWE in the title and tags.
- Indicate in some way which devices/techniques/figures I should be paying attention to.
- Deadline is July 21 for todayâ€™s prose prompt.Â Your grade goes down one letter for each day you are late.
- Iâ€™m kidding. This prompt does not turn into a pumpkin a week (or even two) from today.Â If your piece isnâ€™t done by the deadline, get it in when you can.Â This is supposed to be fun.
- I will comment on every submission and include a link to it in the next column.
- If you would like a little more academic critique–but still very friendly and positive–include the word “rigorous” in your post (e.g. “rigorous critique wanted”).
Here are responses to previous prompts.Â Let me know if I missed yours.Â I hope you can take a few minutes and read some of the other submissions.
The Sound of Language
Â© 2012 Douglas J. Westberg. All Rights Reserved. Â Please share this on Gather.com, and elsewhere on the web by means of a link back to this page, but please do not copy. Â Doug’s latest book is The Depressed Guy’s Book of Wisdom from Chipmunka Publishing.
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