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III. CHARACTERS
 

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3. Character Point of View

 
(ii) CREEPING REVELATION
 

One special benefit of taking a particular character’s point of view is that it provides a rationale for creeping revelations. Language can’t match the visual medium in springing sudden visceral shocks, but it’s very good at little-by-little realisation. Faint clue turns into disturbing suggestion turns into definite probability—until finally the whole shocking reality emerges.

If you’re standing in the shoes of a character, then naturally you perceive only as much as s/he perceives at any given moment. Perhaps you as reader interpret the character’s perceptions while s/he remains in blithe ignorance; or perhaps s/he also interprets and becomes suspicious. Either way, it’s a great incentive to keep turning the pages!

What’s that rattling sound?
Who’s behind that approaching flashlight?
Why is Ben shouting ‘Cover your head!’

It’s not the author wilfully withholding information, it’s the restriction of our character’s point of view.

One exercise I use in creative writing workshops involves planning effective stages by which a revelation can creep up on the reader. For example, when Tam and Nina explore a ruined monastery in my kid’s fantasy Wolf Kingdom 1: Escape!, what clues can convey the suggestion that someone is still living there? Sound without sight is always handy; and smell; and anything out of the ordinary.

OTHER POINT OF VIEW TOPICS

(i) LEVELS OF POV

(iii) ADDING POVs

Other Characters Topics

1. Creating Characters

2. Physical Appearance

 

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Richard Harland.