Different Perspectives for Different Audiences


We’ve talked about different points of view and here’s a related idea: different perspectives based on audience. Using any of the three POV choices (Omniscient POV, 1st Person POV, 3rd Person POV), we’ll shift the thinking a bit.

If you are a 16 year old boy and have a car wreck and you want to tell the story of that car wreck, how do you tell the story? Where do you start? What do you emphasize? It depends on the audience. What you tell your best friend, is different from what you tell your Mom. And for sure, you tell the police man something else entirely. Each version could be entirely true. It’s just that given a certain audience, you tailor your storytelling to meet the audience’s needs, interests and well, um, whether or not you’ll get in trouble for emphasizing some small point here or there.

For example, with his best friend the driver might emphasize the risk taking that led to the wreck; he might speak in jargon or use curse words. With his mom, the driver will emphasize how well he obeyed the speed limit, while gloss over his “dancing in the street with his car”; he’ll also play the wreck for sympathy, emphasizing the slightest hurt. With a cop, the driver will be straightforward, business-like in the recitation of details, giving the appearance of cooperation, while glossing over some details.

Each telling will have a different tone, different emotional content, different details.

Today, choose a character from a story you’re writing.
Choose an event.
Have your character tell about that event in three different ways. Actually choose a person to whom they will tell the story and think about how and why you’ll change the story for this person.

Again, this is NOT changing the point of view from 1st to 3rd. Instead, stay in one point of view, but just change the audience–which changes how the story is told. This is Thinking Like a Writer!

BTW, think like a reader, too. A good example of this is Orson Scott Card’s novel, Ender’s Game which is paralleled in Ender’s Shadow. The two books tell the same story, but from perspectives of two different characters.