When you’re reading a book do you ever wonder what it would be like if it was written through someone else’s eyes? Another character witnessing the same scene but reacting to it differently? Well, this week for me, after writing a short story, I made the decision to re-write the whole thing through someone else’s point of view.
I’ve been writing a short story featuring the characters of my novel Don’t Tell the Groom. I knew what story I wanted to tell, but, even though there was sufficient humour and plot, something wasn’t quite right. It was a story about Penny, my main character, and yet it didn’t work with her telling the story. When I read it back, it just sounded bland. I went for a long walk, had a think, and decided that it needed to be written from her best friend Lou’s perspective. It was instantly better.
I feel like I know Penny (my main character) inside out, backwards and forwards, having just completed the draft of the sequel to the book. So to write from her perspective is fairly easy for me. I know how she’ll respond to situations and I know how she’d behave. I think that was the problem for the short story, it was almost too obvious how she would react. Yet, using the perspective of the best friend gave me the opportunity to explore how Penny is seen by everyone else.
I’d recommend it as a writing tool to explore your minor characters, whether you intend to use it in your novel or not. When I started writing from Lou’s perspective I had to collate all the information we’d gleaned about her in the other books; terrible punctuality, down to earth, not very financially comfortable, etc. I then started to think about these traits and how she’d react to the situation in the story. How does she get on with the other characters? Does she have the same friendships as Penny? Does she dread meet-ups with their wider social circle? I now feel that I know Lou better as a character, and I intend to tweak the parts in the sequel with her in, to make her a more rounded character.
I recently read Nick Spalding’s Love From Both Sides, and whilst I have to admit I didn’t find it as funny as everyone said I would, I loved reading about the same events from the two different characters perspectives. Little nuances or odd actions that one person describes in their chapter is explained in the next chapter by the other character. As a narrative device I think it works brilliantly, as a reader it almost feels like you’re being let in to another side of the story. It reminded me of the brilliant Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees books, Come Together and Come Again, for that dual perspective.
Do you play around with who tells your story? Or have you ever completely re-written chapters to tell it from someone else’s point of view?