Writers Write creates writing resources and shares writing tips. In this post, we show you how viewpoint is about distance.
Getting Warmer: Viewpoint Is About Distance
Warm or cold?
When we were kids, we’d play games in the garden. Someone would hide an object somewhere. While you searched, they would say ‘You’re getting warm’ when you got closer, or ‘You’re getting cold’ if you got further away from the object.
It is the same with viewpoint. Viewpoint is about distance between the reader and the narrator, and between the narrator and the story itself. Sometimes you want to pull the reader in a close embrace. Other times you want to regard them coolly over the fan of cards in a tense poker game.
Intimate or detached?
In some books, there is an intimacy between the writer and what is being written about—a memoir, a confession, an intense experience.
In other stories, the writer takes a step back from the subject. There is a coolness, a detachment to the writing. Both have an effect on how the reader experiences the narrative.
First person stories bring the characters in your story closer to the reader for an intimate and immediate experience.
Third person stories allow for a comfortable distance—they often put the reader further from the characters and the storyline.
Three Crucial Questions to Ask:
- How close do you want the narrator to be in relation your story?
- Is he the hero or the villain?
- Is he a witness or experiencing everything in the plot?