Which Perspective is Better? A Writer’s Dilemma

The more I write, the more I analyze my writing. Why do I make the choices I make when writing? The answer to that is unclear. I guess a lot of my decisions concerning writing comes from the gut – it just feels right. I suppose that’s part of the creative process, letting ones inhibitions go and seeing where the melodic drippings of your mind will take you.

But there are times that writer’s have to make decisions which will have a great deal of bearing on the quality of the story. Of course, it’s never clear in the end if the correct decision has been made. That’s all a matter of opinion and perspective.

Here’s a tangible example. I’m in the middle of my next novel. I’m writing it from an omniscient narrator point of view, but of course I’m being careful not to head-jump around with my perspectives. So I’ve chosen three main characters to be the ones who provide perspective for the different scenes. I decided early on never to write from the perspective of the antagonist because I didn’t want to give away her motivation or thought-process. I wanted that to be a matter of conjecture on behalf of the reader.

The two main characters which provide perspective for the story is a husband and wife. The husband is the stories main protagonist, so his perspective tells most of the story. However, I felt it important to let everyone know what was going on with the wife as well.

The dilemma comes down to this: in any given scene where both of these characters play a main role, how do I determine whose perspective to use?

No easy answer here. A writer needs to dig in and think about what he or she intends to say, what needs to be revealed, what motivations need to be hidden. In one particular scene when the husband is coming home after having committed a grievous act which will alter the rest of his life, I decided to back away from his perspective and allow the wife, who knows nothing of this act or why the husband is acting so strangely, to bring it out slowly. So while the readers have followed the husband through the committing of this act, they are suddenly shielded to the man’s state of mind after he committed it. They don’t know how he’s handling it. They don’t know how he is taking it. They only have his actions and words to fuel their speculation – the readers are stripped bare of his thoughts, but they can feel the crescendo of anxiety building up inside the mind of the wife.

Was it right to write that scene in this way? I don’t know. Writers never know. We just have to make the best decisions possible and hope it all comes together in the end.

How do you go about making your writing decisions?

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