Perspective: in real life and in story

How we look at things is important. As storytellers (and there’s room for storytelling even in non-fiction…) the perspective we speak/write from impacts the story we tell. It affects the information available to the narrator, the reader’s ability to associate with the characters in our story, and the nuts and bolts of how we structure and write our story. As writers, or just people trying to get along in a world full of people who ain’t us, understanding the perspectives of people around us is valuable in marketing, persuasion, and making things happen.

Perspective in story (the kind that helps us tell the story)

There’s lots of discussion about perspective (aka point of view) in story. Holy wars have been (and are being) fought over whether first or third person is best (and that’s ignoring the second person rebels!).

There are those who will tell you the hero/heroine must be the one to tell the story, and other people who’ll insist writing from the perspective of a side character gets the job done.

Things get really scary when polyphonic stories come up. Suddenly there’s more than one perspective operating in the same story!

I tend toward the polyphonic style myself. But I won’t tell you that’s the ‘one correct way’ to tell your story. Nope, I don’t think it’s true. I definitely don’t think it’s the best advice. The best advice (as I see it) is to experiment and find the best point of view for your story and use that.

Of course, taking my advice requires thinking about things from more than one point of view. You know what… that’s an excellent skill to use in real life too.

Perspective in life (the kind that helps get the story read)

In real life, everyone has their own perspective. Even identical twins don’t see things perfectly the same. Understanding that other people have their own perspectives, and maybe even understanding those perspectives (as best we can), makes a real difference in getting things done.

Sure, some people try the Karen path (even people not named Karen…); they demand to talk to your manager; they expect us to make exceptions for them; they try to make their way through hardheadedness and screaming. But it’s not an effective path. Refusing to see other perspectives isn’t all that successful on a long-term basis.

This is not saying that you have to give in to those other perspectives. If your reason’s good enough and right enough, and the aim is worthy enough, stay the course and move ahead. But if you take the time to look at the other person’s perspective, at least you understand why the @$@#@!!! others are insisting on the things they are.

There is great power in understanding other people’s perspectives. If you understand other people’s perspectives (and your own goals), you can do a little thinking beforehand. You can package and present things in ways that look and feel better to the other person. That makes getting what you want easier.

Beyond the pre-packaging, you might find commonalities between what you want and what the other person wants. You can use those commonalities to build a shared foundation. And then, you can use your understanding of what the other person wants to negotiate a solution that works for everyone involved…

Perspective is useful. Understanding different perspectives allows you to see new angles and new things. It doesn’t mean you have to change your perspective, but it gives you more information and allows you to make better decisions in story and in life.

That’s it for this one, dear reader. What’s your perspective on perspective? Leave a comment. And, I’ll see you next post.

Published by Farangian

I'm a writer (fiction and non fiction) with a Masters in Psychology. I am also a sculptor, metal smith, lapidary, tutor/trainer, and eternal student. The name Farangian comes from the name of a fantasy world I created called Farangia. That name comes from Farang with is a term that the Thai use for westerners.

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