The impact of perspective/POV on story



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  • #31
    Re: POV

    Like, APW posted:
    Who's prejudices, fears, and hopes are filtering the story we're seeing?
    How do you answer your question re: Shawshank Redemption? And even though we saw the movie, "Misery" from the James Caan character's POV, whose actions drove that story forward? I think both are good puzzlers to figure out.

    Also, for anyone to answer, I would like a bit of advice on the following: I knew my "theme" or "story question" before I ever started writing word one of my screenplay. The same question or theme was done to perfection in Sam Peckinpah's "Straw Dogs" with the Dustin Hoffman character. And I'm no Sam Peckinpah so I could use all the help I can get.

    My theme is, "What are any of us capable of doing/becoming given the right circumstances?" or even, "What violence are any of us capable of doing?"

    You start out with a somewhat namby-pamby normal character who progresses by story's end to someone capable of pulling that trigger.

    Plunk an ordinary person down in extraordinary circumstances and see what happens when the sh*t hits the old fan.

    That was my theme or story idea and the POV of my protagonist because she was the nice person who turned into someone capable of violence.

    BUT... my antagonist, the psychobitch who perpetrates all manner of nightmares upon this woman and her child is SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING as a character.

    I considered telling the story from HER point of view so I could show how she became a psycho and do all kinds of creepy stuff with her story.

    But that would not address my main theme at all and that main theme was the driving force behind my desire to even write this screenplay. And in the end, I think a normal person's journey to evil or violence is much more fascinating than someone who's already there.

    My nice character didn't turn evil, just violent. She had to kill.

    So should I have told the story from her POV? Or should I have done it from the antagonist's POV?


    • #32
      Re: POV

      I don't want to sound like a simpleton Queen, but you seem to be deliberating over how you get your theme across. If your story is sructured properly then POV is not an issue. That is my point. Decide what your story is and then the characters fit into place. If you are unsure what your story is then no amount of 10 dollar theories as to character arc, protaganist or POV is going to help. Structure first, last and always. I've seen you quote Goldman. Protect your spine! The most valuable piece of writing advice ever given.


      • #33
        POV and THEME

        In a novel the writer can employ omniscient POV and it's not a problem, if handled well. Why can't that be done in film? In fact, I think it is. Unless the hero is in every scene, the audience is privy to another POV. These other POVs aren't necessarily multiple character POVs. I mean, how can one really tell? Unless the action is obviously filtered through one character's eyes, then why isn't it omniscient? So I don't see how using other than a single POV hurts a script. At the same time, I don't see anything wrong with limiting POV to one character. Even as I write this, though, I'm thinking that even in movies where the hero is in every scene, the audience can be privy to information that the hero isn't. That kind of thing is a staple in thrillers. The thriller audience is typically ahead of the hero in terms of what it knows.

        There was a post here in another thread that addressed theme I thought quite well. It made clear the difference between subject and theme. For instance, "What are any of us capable of doing/becoming given the right circumstances?" defines a subject. It asks a question to be explored. A theme will always have a POV. "Everyone is capable of violence under the right circumstances," is a theme. It's a statement about human nature to be illustrated by the story a script tells. Well, that's only my humble opinion.



        • #34
          Re: POV and THEME

          Thanks, Smudge. That actually makes sense. Should I be scared?


          • #35
            You can do that -- tell the story from the Adrian character's POV, and let that control which scenes you write and which scenes you don't. Judging from the fact that none of us knew Stallone told Rocky from Adrian's POV, we likely won't be able to tell that's what you're doing either. So if everything depends on us buying that the story was told from the POV of a character we didn't know was there, we may or may not buy it.

            But it's your experiment, and if it works, you may have the next Sixth Sense.


            • #36
              Smudge, no one said there is only one POV, that of the protag.
              There are many different type of POV, omniscient is one of them.

              What was said is â€having an unlimited POV usually results in weaker story.â€


              • #37

                I can't beleive anybody around here can hear or use the word "protagonist" without throwing up after all this crap...much less take it seriously as a concept for aiding in the writing process.
                But it has nothing to do with POV. Which is, in itself not the thing you really need to focus on.
                One of a small handfull of things I ever heard that were in any way helpful to writing was the importance of Narrative Voice. (Much as I hate to add another bit of jargon for you twits to obsess over.)
                It's not just POV, or "person"'s the way the story wants to tell itself, essentially. Is this thing told in a hip sneer by a transparent bystander? Is is told in the language of a long-dead child? Do we get the whole thing in snatches of email or phone messges? Would it be better to tell the story three times, each from a different person? This is not even so much a decision as grasping the right route to the top. You can waste months screwing around with something, then suddenly start telling it from the mom and it writes itself. Ken Kesey was struggling with "Cuckoo's Nest" until the character of The Cheif suddenly popped in and it fell together with a clang. Without finding this distinctive voice, beleive me, you will labor in vain.
                This is the answer not only to the quwesting of this thread, but the unasked questions down underneath it.
                Don't @#%$ with it, just keep it in mind. It's one of the few "concepts" worth knowing about getting writing to work.


                • #38
                  Re: ?

                  At the core level, every story is told from the writer's POV, no? Stallone wrote Rocky from the POV little guy,"good and sincere," famous guy, "Bad and phony." Considering he was a starving actor at the time he wrote it, well ... you know what I mean.


                  • #39

                    Definitely not true at all...and an idea that leads to confusion not only in writing, but in discussing it.

                    If you warp the term "POV" to that, there is no point in using it.

                    If you confine yourself to "coming of age stories" you might be able to convince yourself of that idea. But if you read oh, "Lord of the Rings" or "War and Peace" or "Interview with the Vampire" or really, about anything, you might run into some conflicts with that thesis.