Weekly Writing Challenge: the Difference Point of View Makes
We blog for a million different reasons, but in the end, we’re all storytellers. Creative Writing Challenges are here to help you push your writing boundaries and explore new ideas, subjects, and writing styles.
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If you’ve ever been in an argument or mind small children, you know that there’s more than two sides to any story: what he said, what she said, and what really happened. Everyone has a point of view — that unique way in which we view the world colored by our race, gender, creed, nationality, and personal experiences, among many other factors.
Putting yourself into your characters’ shoes, flip-flops, stilettos, wing tips, Chuck Taylors, or slippers and viewing the world through their eyes is a great skill that can serve as a well of inspiration when writer’s block darkens the skies of your creativity. Today, we’ve got a couple of ways to stretch your imagination and your writing by working with point of view.
Lend me your imagination
Before we get into the challenge portion of our program, let’s do a short experiment that demonstrates the power of point of view. Imagine yourself leaving your home to go to the grocery store. Imagine yourself in as much detail as possible — your clothes, your shoes, — everything. Do you have house keys in your hand? If so, which one? What season is it?
Now, ask yourself this question: from which point of view did you see yourself? Were you watching from across the street? From high up among the branches in the tree in your front yard? From behind as you exited your door? From directly overhead? From below? (As you read these words, did the camera in your mind switch point of view, from afar, from up high, from behind, from below?)
Considering and re-considering perspective and point of view can not only help you empathize with your characters as you imagine every detail of a scene through their eyes, it can help you get unstuck. As you imagine the scene, literally from different angles, and/or through the eyes of different characters, new original details will emerge that can become part of your story.
The challenge portion of the program
In today’s challenge, you’ll tell the same story from two or more unique perspectives. You can choose from the prompts below, or create your own prompt. The length of your story is up to you — you can write a sentence from each perspective, or whole poems from each perspective or a paragraph from each point of view. The structure is loose so that you can adapt the challenge as you see fit.
The scenarios: (Again, please feel free to use one of these, or make up your own scenario.)
- A New York City cabbie idles at the curb, awaiting her next fare. A homeless woman panhandles for change across the street. A man drops coins into her outstretched hands as he rolls by on his skateboard.
- A waitress welcomes an elderly regular as he takes his seat at the counter in the diner. The man just got word his wife is dying of cancer. The cook watches through the order window.
- A man in a wheelchair crosses the street. There are three lanes of traffic: in the north curb lane a woman in a Mercedes Benz observes, in the center lane a man in a beat-up half-ton pickup truck watches. In the south curb lane, a bike messenger waits for the light to turn.
Be creative — help us understand who these characters are by showing us the original details unique to your characters. Are they young, old, or somewhere in between? Do premature wrinkles belie a sleep-deprived young mom? Does their clothing give us any clues about their past experiences? The details are yours to create. Above all else, have fun!