The Daily Prompt has asked about perspectives and how it influences our writing. It specifically asks fo one piece that makes you happy and another that makes you crazy… But perspectives themselves can be complicated.
If you write a story and it doesn’t exactly work then perhaps the perspective needs to be changed. Which character are you with? Take this story:
Sitting on the upper deck of the bus into town Neil remembered The Plaza, that temple of a cinema near where he grew up. Now it was apartments. He thought about how, in time, even the most solid monuments become snow, and all passed time, a minute. Again he opened that letter of forty years ago and stared at the neat writing. Meredith must have sat and printed out her handwriting, just so he could read it.
Not many knew but Merry had two styles, one that looked like a spider had died and the other, well, the other was what he was gazing at. He once asked her why she used both. She had shrugged.
“It’s just that sometimes you want to be read.”
“So why have the other style?”
“Because sometimes you want to hide,” she had said with a smile. He had smiled back but she averted her gaze, as if his face held some secret that she couldn’t look at.
“Are you alright?” he asked and Merry had reached over and squeezed his hand. At the time he had thought it was in reassurance, but now, looking back, it may not have been. How many times had he asked? And how many times had she ignored the question or pointed at something else.
From ‘The Letter’ by Kate Murray
This is told from the perspective of the man and in third person… What if it is told like this?
I watched him on the bus. He didn’t see me, but then I always watched him. I needed to know, you see, that he was alright. He would ask me if I was alright. Over and over. And I would evade the question; look at the clouds or talk about something else. Anything to avoid his probing eyes and worried expression.
I wrote him a letter once, in my special handwriting. I needed to start it so many times, every time I would cry my tears would fall on the paper and smudge the ink. In the end I had changed my pen, and just let the tears fall. He had asked me once why I had two types of writing. The one you could read and the other that was illegible. I had kissed him and said, “Sometimes I want to be read and other times I want to hide.” He had given me such a small smile then that I had felt I had betrayed him.
“You never need to hide from me,” he’d said, and I had kissed him again.
“I know.” But I had hidden.
“Are you alright?” he said and I had looked away. How could I answer that? So I didn’t. I wish I had.
They are essentially the same story but told differently. The second is far more personal because it is told in first person and you are inside the head of the character. The first is more reserved. But which is better?
That is where I fall down. I just go with my gut and it isn’t until I start editing that I will rewrite a piece in a different perspective just in case it is better. Perspectives can be tricky…