Getting Outside Your Comfort Zone (part 3): Switching POV

Hi, and welcome to the RADblog! I’m Rani Divine, back for the rest of the year to talk to you about whatever I choose. You’re at my mercy, friends. But don’t worry; we’ll have some fun.

For the next six weeks, I’ll be talking to you about comfort zones, and why they’re both a good thing and a bad thing. We’ll also be looking at a few exercises I’ve come up with to help you get outside your comfort zone and to grow as the amazing writer you are. We’re all in a learning process, every step of the way.

By now we’ve decided that though comfort zones can be a good thing, they can also be very bad for our writing careers, if we don’t find a way to break out of them—and we’ve started looking at exercises to help us get outside those comfort zones and grow ourselves as writers. Because if we’re not growing, we’re only staying stagnant. And nobody wants that.

 

Comfort Zones: Switching points of view

 

If you’ve read anything of mine, then you probably know what point of view I love the most. You’ll probably also know that I force myself to write outside it, because most stories just don’t work when they’re told completely through first person. They just don’t. Aside from second person, first person is the most difficult point of view to write a complete story through. It’s difficult, keeping focused on a single character, only knowing and revealing their thoughts—even if you, the writer, know the thoughts of someone else. Which is why I’m now proficient in both first person and third person writing.

But it wasn’t always that way. Actually, for me, I started writing in third person, discovered my comfort zone in first person, and now prefer first but try to stick to third whenever possible, because I feel that it suits my genres more fluidly. All of that is neither here nor there.

 

What’s your favorite point of view? Where do you find yourself often going back to, or getting stuck in, when you’re writing a new story? Are you letting the story guide what point of view it wants to be in, or are you deciding for it, when you sit down to write? These are all questions you should be asking yourself, as we look deeper into comfort zones.

If you’re like me, and you have a point of view you prefer, one you tend to point toward when you start writing a new book, then I challenge you to try the other one. If you’re a first person writer, like me, then the next time you start a new story, start it in third. And if you’re a third person writer, then I challenge you to write yours in first.

Why? Because, just like with genre, you really need to know both. You need to know how to write in either point of view, because there are some stories that simply must be told in first person, and others that demand they be written in third. The story should always be the thing that guides you, the thing that tells you what point of view it wants to be.

 

Want to take it one step further? Let’s go.

Try writing a story in second person. Completely second person. Believe me, I know how hard that is. I’ve tried. I’ve written a few short stories in second person, and they’re unbearably difficult to read. I don’t particularly like them. Every few months, I go back and edit them, try to make them better. And I’m not convinced that they ever get better.

Know what does get better? My ability to choose my worse wisely, based on the point of view I’m writing in. Writing in second person gives me an alternate perspective on writing, gives me the ability to look at my writing through a third kind of lens, and really know what words, phrases, descriptors, actions, etc. need to be placed where in my story.

 

I’ve been doing this exercise, without even really knowing it was an exercise, almost since I started writing—but since the day I realized how much it’s benefited my writing as a whole, I’ve never looked back.

Dabble in points of view, my friends, and see what it illuminates in your writing world.

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.