Points of View and Perspectives

This strip is only funny because it encourages us to think about seemingly trivial things in different ways. From Hobbes’ (now very obvious) perspective, a leisurely trip to the zoo is like a casual stroll through the local detainment center. This is all in a “Of course it’s this way” kind of fashion.

Humans are rational beings. They take the stimuli they are presented with and act on their evaluations of said stimuli. Such is the case of all rational beings, and even computers have been witnessed to follow this chain of reasoning. In this respect, people are shaped by what they see.

Accordingly, their viewpoint determines what they see and what is obscured. Calvin obviously didn’t see that a zoo to an animal is like a prison; and neither did we. But then again, isn’t it obvious? Obvious or no, it all depends on who is seeing the unfolding events.

Think about it: it may seem strange that the villain of the story is doing what he’s doing, but see things from the standpoint of a villain from popular culture: he wants to kill off half the universe. Why? Because his civilization went extinct the same way. In his eyes, he’s a hero: he’s preventing the collapse of other civilizations the way his did.

He’s the one that does what needs to be done to ensure that life in the universe goes on. This is a trait of many heroes, right? Only, this guy’s name is Thanos, and he wants to kill off half the universe. However, if you saw only what Thanos saw and experienced only what he did, wouldn’t you be the same? Wouldn’t this plan make sense?

I want to be very clear about this: just because a certain viewpoint make sense does not mean that it’s right. Because there is a such thing as right or wrong (otherwise we don’t have villains or heroes) but the viewpoint of the villain may give him or her purpose. Thanos is still butchering innocent people, making his actions wrong.

Again, this is another place to exercise moral dilemmas in your story: do the ends justify the means? Is it better to kill all these people to save society at large? This is another great way to use opposing points of view.

So no matter who you are, what you become is determined on what your experience is and what you see. The same is true of your book characters: their motivation is based on their perception of reality. They want to save the world because…They believe that saving innocent people is morally good, among other things.

Therefore, I hereby suggest: a way of reasoning for a particular character to determine the reason for which they do what they do can give us greater insight into their character. Especially in the case of characters who seem to have weird reasons and/or illogical reasons for doing what they’re doing.

The catch about each person’s point of view is it will always supports their actions. I suggest that you make a character who acts first and then explains why, whether in dialogue to other characters or in his/her mind. If all a person has known and experienced was evil, would you expect them to be a hero for seemingly no reason?

To add a point of view to a character makes them less of a puppet and more like a thinking, rational being (thus making them more life-like). Visualize yourself as being in the individual’s place and think of reasons why they’re doing what they’re doing.

There as some rare exceptions, like Joker from the film The Dark Knight. None of us can relate to Joker, because he does evil just for the sake of it. Joker doesn’t really have a point of view, because he doesn’t really have reasons for doing what he’s doing other than that he sees it as “good sport”. However, these characters are few and far between, and for a blanket statement I’d say it’s better for all of your characters to have individual viewpoints and reasons for doing what they’re doing.

Good luck, and happy writing!


Published by Van Ghalta

A cold, dark, mysterious character who purposefully wrote a story so that he could fit into it...A story where he himself WRITES stories, practices martial arts, blogs, plays airsoft, collects MTG trading cards, plays outdated video games, and writes weird, third-person bios for himself...

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