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The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

22 August 2007

Do you see what I see?

Many people have recently blogged on writers’ different methods of creating. No one has yet mentioned the difference I find most fascinating: In your mind’s eye, where are you in the story?

I was startled the first time I heard a writer say that she watches her story unfold in her head as if she were watching a movie. Since then, I’ve come across many writers who view their story in the same way. I see my story very differently—out of the eyes of the point-of-view (POV) character.

Each perspective may have advantages and disadvantages. Perhaps the reason so many beginning writers don’t understand third-person POV or don’t use it correctly is that they see the story from outside the characters, just as when in the theater. Perhaps the reason I write so little description of my protagonists is that I’m so firmly behind their eyeballs that I don't notice what I/they are wearing or look like.

What about you? Do your stories play like movies in your head? Are you ensconced in the body of one person in each scene? Or do you experience your story in some other way completely?


Lisa said...

I'm in sync with you. I'm writing in 3rd and I'm completely inside my character's head and seeing with his eyes. I'm alternating POV with another character, although I've worked more with him so far, so at this point, there's very little description of him and the observations and description I've written so far are the things I think he'd notice. I've heard people mention seeing the story as if it's a movie too and that's never happened to me. I "see" the story unfold very much in the same way I "see" things in dreams.

Charles Gramlich said...

Good question, and not one that I find it easy to answer. I think most of the time I'm within the protagonist, seeing through his or her eyes, like you and Lisa. But there are definetely times when I'm pulled back from the story, looking down at it from above. Sometimes I get almost a "still" experience, like a movie still.

cs harris said...

I think I'd best describe my approach as "dreamlike." Most of the time I'm my viewpoint character. But sometimes, to figure out what another character is thinking and feeling so that I can realistically portray what they do or say next, I must temporarily leave my vp character and go possess that other character.

ninthmuse (roz m) said...

I definitely have my own inner movie studio. At the same time, I usually experience what I'm seeing as it would be colored by the character whose POV the scene is coming from. Most of my forays behind a character's eyes are quick flashes--noticing something for the first time, gaining perspective on a place/person/item, etc.

Shauna Roberts said...

So far, we have three people who usually see from inside the POV character and one who usually watches a movie. It's interesting that two people mentioned the experience of being inside the character as like a dream.

Thanks, LISA, CHARLES, CANDICE, and ROZ, for sharing your experiences.

I still wonder about the relative advantages and disadvantages of each method of experiencing the scene.