December 29, 2015

A Different Point of View

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine

I can't say I've read any of the books, but I have it on good authority that Fifty Shades of Grey now has a counterpart series, telling the same story from the guy's point of view.  Beginning with Grey, released in June, author E.L. James is getting new mileage from her popular trilogy by sharing more shades of grey.

Twilight is also enjoying a reincarnation by its original author, Stephenie Meyer.  In a reversal of genders, this time the male vampire Edward will be a female vampire named Edythe, and Bella will be a young male named Beau.  One can only assume the love triangle will involve a wolfgirl.

Veronica Roth gave fans of Divergent new insight into its male co-star when she released Four, a collection of five short stories from character Four's POV.  Roth reveals that she had originally written Divergent from Four's perspective and that its female heroine came into being only after the first draft.

A fair amount of such retreads can be found in fan fiction, but the trend to turn the tables has been going on for some time.  Wicked, a retelling of the Oz saga turning the wicked witch into a sympathetic character, was the frontrunner in only the current crop of reimaginings. 

Back to the Future dabbled with multiple POVs in its sequels, when we got to see bad guy Biff's reactions and interactions with events we had seen in the first film. Marty himself encountered his own pasts and futures with new eyes as he traveled through time.

From Peter Rabbit to The Three Little Pigs, kiddie tales have long lived happily ever after through rewrites that let the villain tell their side of the story.

But fantasies and fairy tales aren't the only stories able to benefit from a shift in perspective. We can use this principle as a way to elaborate on the conflict between two characters with opposing viewpoints. Or a close examination of our story may reveal that the strongest POV belongs to a character other than the protagonist.

Since the beginning of publishing, the classic stories have been rewritten again and again, thanks to new sets of characters in new settings that differentiate things enough to make it all seem brand new again. Perhaps one of your own published books will be suited to a reimagining.

The points of view we choose to convey can enliven things by telling more than one side of the story. Abraham Lincoln said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” A difference of opinion makes things interesting, and we can all agree on that.

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