Perspective

When I am writing fiction, the biggest obstacle to progress I encounter is deciding upon the narrator’s perspective. This inner debate has scuppered many a nascent work, as I switch midway through, only to abandon it, frustrated.

I have hit that roadblock once more in my present novel. I began writing it from the first person perspective. I enjoyed the intensity of this perspective, of viewing the world through their eyes. This perspective, I felt at first, suited this story to a tee.

Yes, but then came those misgivings: the hesitation. First, I like to describe the environs, the details, the broad landscape, the minutiae, the big picture. Second, what of objectivity? Third, the limitations: we only know what the narrator knows or thinks, or experiences. Fourth, representation: dare I occupy the head of that character?

So, for days, I set off down that parallel track, revisiting the manuscript, narrating anew from the perspective of the omniscient third person, as if to bring about a Dickensian revival. I seemed to be making progress, I thought, embracing this more distant voice, looking in on the lives of the protagonists from afar.

But this evening? I find myself swinging back towards the first person point of view, to reclaim that urgent intensity that has become muted in the omniscient retelling. In truth, both perspectives have their pros and cons, their strengths and weaknesses.

Now I have two parallel works, diverging in this heated argument in my head. Ah, fiddlesticks! This is the juncture at which numerous past manuscripts have been abandoned, filling my disks with a multitude of drafts I have totally lost track of.

I feel the first person perspective calling me back. Ah, but simultaneously, the third person perspective says, “Be patient with me.” In truth, I seek something of both perspectives. How many times must I hit this roadblock?

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