A Short Review of Orson Scott Card’s Book, Character and Viewpoint

By Jim Middleton

For people with no formal training in writing, Orson Scott Card presents excellent examples of writing and theory on how character development, narrator choice and manipulation, what viewpoint you chose, and what character you use as pov interact to affect your story in ways great and small. This simple country boy got a lot of my questions answered about storytelling, and I learned a lot of technique that I had never considered.

I will just lightly pass over a couple concepts he presents.

When you are using third person, the narrator is just a storyteller who can move from person to person. In first person, the narrator is a character in the story with no wall between himself and the audience (even if the author maintains one.) Which is why in first person, the story is frequently told as a story within a story, i.e. characters sitting around a campfire telling a story, etc.

First person distances the reader from the story as it is told as it happened in the past. In third person, the story is usually told in past tense but feels immediate. But, in third person, the narrator is never a character directly so is distant from the story compared to first person who is a character.

In third person omniscient, you can save time and pages explaining situations but it can be hard to get as close to a character as you do in a deep dive into a character in third person limited.

Speaking of, your narrator can be at a cinematic distance from the pov character where she only sees and hears what the character is doing or she can be in a light dive into the pov character and see the surface thoughts and emotions or can do a deep dive into the pov characters thoughts and emotions. By using a combination it is possible to draw the reader in very closely to the character and begin to care greatly for the character and what happens.

Orson Scott Card shows ways to overcome built-in issues and enhance strong points of each of the ways of writing. There is obviously a lot more.

I would like to thank Jennifer Vandenberg for introducing me to Orson Scott Card’s How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, as I might never have read these books that have introduced me to so much.



About jmvandenberg

I'm a writer, blogger, podcaster, book lover, runner, world traveler, Disney expert, Marvel fan, science enthusiast, scrapbooker, and dreamer
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