3 Essential Exercises For Viewpoint

3 Essential Exercises For Viewpoint


We are posting a series of Essential Writing Exercises to help you tell your stories. This post includes three essential exercises for viewpoint.

On our course, Writers Write ONLINE, we spend time creating characters, plotting, learning to write dialogue, learning how to pace, and learning how to show and not tell. We teach you about viewpoint, setting, description, and scenes, and much, much more. In my series, I am going to concentrate on a few of these areas.

To help us get through this time of social distancing and lockdown, I am going to post a series of Essential Writing Exercises to help you tell your stories. We’ve included exercises about dialoguecreating characters, plotting, setting, and pacing.

This week I have included three essential exercises for viewpoint.

3 Essential Exercises For Viewpoint

When we teach Writers Write ONLINE, we find that viewpoint confuses many writers.

Viewpoint (point of view) is the filter through which you tell your story. You have to choose a viewpoint character and you need to decide if you are going to tell the story in first person, second person, or third person viewpoint.

Using third person is the most common way to write any story. You can also write a novel as a narrator, or using a first person, or second person narrative structure. These are more unusual.

3 Essential Exercises For Viewpoint

The viewpoint you choose should suit your story. It affects the mood of the story. First person is common in memoirs and Young Adult fiction. It is also used in other genres. Second person is experimental and is used in more literary fiction. Third person is used across all genres and readers are most comfortable with this viewpoint. Narrators are uncommon in modern fiction as there is too much telling when they are involved.

MUST-READ: How Viewpoint Works – 10 Ways To Tell A Story

To help you decide which viewpoint you are going to use, try our three essential exercises for viewpoint to help you decide.

Exercise 1: Firstly

“The truth is, I hate not being the first person narrator all the way through! To paraphrase David Copperfield, I don’t know whether I’m the hero or the victim of this tale. But either way, shouldn’t I dominate it?” ~Anne Rice, The Queen of the Damned

Write a scene in first person present tense (present tense is often used with first person to make it more immediate) or past tense.

Start with one of these:

  1. I look at Sam, waiting for him to sit down before I say, ‘You know, I never wanted to kill them.’
  2. I picked up the binoculars and searched across the bridge. They were late.

Remember:

  1. Name the character/s.
  2. Use the five sensesdialoguebody language, and the internal thoughts of the viewpoint character.
  3. Show the setting through their interaction with it.

This exercise will help you find out if you enjoy the intimate, confessional nature of this viewpoint.

Exercise 2: Secondly

“You have friends who actually care about you and speak the language of the inner self. You have avoided them of late. Your soul is as dishevelled as your apartment, and until you can clean it up a little you don’t want to invite anyone inside.” ~Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City

Write a scene in second person present tense (this viewpoint is almost always in present tense) where your character wakes up in a strange room. They have no idea where they are or what they are doing there.

Begin writing with this prompt:

Your head pounds. You reach out for your glass of water, but it’s not there.

  1. Name the character/s.
  2. Use the five sensesdialoguebody language, and the internal thoughts of the viewpoint character.
  3. Show the setting through their interaction with it.

This exercise will help you find out if you like the surreal, uncomfortable feel of writing in second person.

Exercise 3: Thirdly

Write an opening scene of a novel where two detectives arrive at a crime scene. Write it in third person past tense (this is the most common way of using third person).

Use this prompt to start writing:

Detective Inspector Gigi Slaughter ducked to avoid the branches. Where was Hawkins? She expected him to be here when she arrived.

  1. Name the characters.
  2. Use the five sensesdialoguebody language, and the internal thoughts of the viewpoint character.
  3. Show the setting through their interaction with it.

This exercise will show you that this is the easiest and most common way of writing a story.

The Last Word

Use these three essential exercises for viewpoint to decdide on a clear filter through which you can tell your story.

Join us for Writers Write ONLINE for many more exercises like this (with feedback), and learn how to write a book.

© Amanda Patterson

If you enjoyed this blogger’s writing, read:

  1. 5 Essential Exercises For Pacing A Story
  2. 5 Essential Exercises For Writing About Setting
  3. 5 Essential Exercises For Plotting
  4. What Is Dramatic Irony & Why Should I Use It?
  5. 5 Essential Exercises For Creating Characters
  6. 5 Essential Exercises For Writing Dialogue
  7. How To Finish Writing Your Book
  8. Thriller Book Title Generator
  9. The Almost Moment Is The Secret To Successful Romance Writing
  10. What Is Direct And Indirect Characterisation? And Which One Should I Use?

Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a book, sign up for our online course.