Shifting POV

empirecombo.jpgSame building, two different perspectives. Makes a lot of difference, doesn’t it? I thought of how much point of view affects our view of something, not only a place or a thing, but our self-image, while sitting in my office yesterday. I blame the interns.
My company has summer interns this year. They are students from around the country, probably juniors and seniors mostly. My department doesn’t have one, but the department upstairs does. I have a feeling that the people upstairs don’t have a whole lot for these young women to do, so they make them carry files back and forth. They carry reams of paper, folders that would probably not even be moved if they didn’t have interns, I imagine. These three young women march past my office, then up the stairs. Then back down. Then up. Then down. Two of them. Then one. Then one. I felt so bad for them, they looked so tired already and it’s not even noon. And here I sit, with a computer and a cup of coffee and a window.
Then I think of the job I had at a hardware store when I was 20. My boss made me repair cracks in the parking lot with crack-sealer during a 90+-degree-100%-humidity-heatwave. These weren’t actually cracks, either, they were gaps, huge missing chunks of macadam and I had a tube and putty knife and heatstroke. I did it for four days, seven hours a day until I finally had enough and quit.
Within weeks the guy replaced the parking lot.
I think about that, and then I don’t feel so bad for the young women in their high heels and new suits marching back and forth in air conditioning with a cafeteria on 11 with 1/2 price deserts at 3pm.
That’s when subtle changes in personal perspective hit me. I’m the same guy, but not. My perception of these young women isn’t what it would have been 16 years ago (good God, 16 years…). I began to think about how I do this in my fiction. I’m planning on going through my recently finished first draft of my second novel carefully, looking at how the main character’s perceptions, both internal and external, might change throughout. How might he look at an object, a room, himself, and see many different things. There are some flashbacks and some locations are revisited a number of times. These are my opportunities to avoid using a narrator’s voice to tell about changes. These are my opportunities to show a shift in my main character’s perception that conveys the sort of change, the growth of wisdom, that I’m seeking.

One thought on “Shifting POV

  1. Right now I’m having a major love/hate relationship with revisions. Part of me is really looking forward to aspects like the one you mention. The other part knows that some major book surgery has to come before then.

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