Differing Points of View Make Life Interesting
By Jeannie Meredith, 14th Aug 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1jlzt6h0/
Posted in WikinutWritingColumns & Opinions
There are two sides to every story, let's explore the perspective of two very differing sides. How can one blatantly wrong action have a rippling effect?
Let's Explore Two Very Different Perspectives
My initial idea that I came up with when broached the subject of “Differing Points of View Make Life Interesting” varies a great deal from that which I shall share. Originally, I was going to describe how diversity enriches our world, and how without conflicting and contrasting opinions we would lead very boring, robotic lives. We would have no motivating factors to better ourselves, or the world with which we reside. I began to formulate my thoughts around this concept, and then I heard a news headline that provoked a new approach to this topic.
First, to you the reader I must say, that I shall exclude my feelings with regards to this matter. I shall merely detail two opposing viewpoints, these will prove “Differing Points of View Make Life Interesting”. Recently, I heard a tragic, and true story from the news. A mother of a 13-month old baby was shot; and her infant son was killed, by what has been reported to be two teens, ages 14 and 17. While attempting to steal from the mother, the teens opened fire, with what is believed to have been a handgun. The gunfire grazed the mother's head and missed, and again she was shot, and hit in the leg. The armed teen then approached her unsuspecting baby, that lay in his stroller, and proceeded to shoot him in the face. One mother has lost her baby boy due to a senseless and vicious act of violence. Potentially, two more families could also lose their sons if the death penalty is pursued, in this first-degree murder case. Here are two very differing sides to examine, and to consider. Some may say this atrocious crime is an open and shut case, some may not.
The fact of the matter is we have three minors involved in what can only be described as a horrific crime. One of whom is an obviously innocent bystander; two who may or may not be proven guilty by a court of law. Three families, deeply connected to the aftermath of this situation, all who are clearly motivated for different reasons. Now, if I could pose some poignant questions to you: Could you easily support another person's child being put to death after having your own child killed? Could you have your child killed in such a manner, and not wish the same outcome for your child's killer(s)? Could you consciously know your child has committed murder and hope for the crime to go unpunished?
This all too sad a tale, poses 'food for thought'. Regardless, of where you stand in this matter, it proves to be very interesting. Engrossing enough to become headline news, fascinating enough to be a topic discussed at workplace water coolers all around the world. Apparently, it's newsworthy but is it educational? Can we learn from this, can we grow as a collective humanity? Will we continue to evolve and broaden our views? Or will we just keep life interesting?
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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.
Boardwalk still life with Englishman — photo by Krista Stevens
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!
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