Thursday, August 16, 2007

The eye of the beholder

At last night's short story writing class, we discussed the different points of view that can be used in telling a story e.g in first-, second- and third-person, or whether the narrator is the main character, a minor character or an uninvolved onlooker.

I'm still not 100% clear on the difference between telling a story from a minor character's point of view and using first-person, and telling it from a minor character's view but using second-person. So I'll just use "I" if I can identify with the character well, and "he" or "she" if I can't.

The most fun exercise of the evening was to, in groups, attempt to retell the tale of Cinderella from the points of view of various minor characters e.g. the stepmum, Cinderella's dad, etc, and from the points of view of very minor characters e.g. one of the mice who was transformed by the fairy godmother into a footman. I can see why Gregory Maguire has made a career out of it (although I think his results could have been less boring).

And our homework this week is to come up with a first draft for a short story. I've got an idea for one right now, but I won't tell you what it is in case you steal my idea and turn it into a best-selling novel and don't even give me credit for it.


Cathi said...

I quite like novels that tell the story from several different characters' perspectives - An Instance of the Fingerpost does it well (although that one disappointed me in the end, and if you haven't read it I can't tell you why) and John Mortimer's Quite Honestly is a nice afternoon's light amusement

Violet said...

cathi: I find that it has to be quite obvious when the author switches between characters (like, using headings with the character's name in it!), or else I can get quite confused. I haven't read either of those novels you mention. Anyway, it's apparently hard to make that work in a short story, because there's less room.