Thursday, 17 January 2013
Most writers know that they should control point of view. As a rule, each passage of continuous narrative should be presented as from the perspective of a single character, whether the narration is in the first or the third person. I say "Most writers..." because one successful science fiction writer had the point of view switching arbitrarily back and forth between two or three characters within single passages of dialogue.
Like most writers, Alan Grant, whether consciously or unconsciously, observes the rule about a single point of view if not throughout an entire novel, then certainly within each chapter or at least within each of the discrete chapter sections that are separated from each other by wider spaces and sometimes also, as in this edition of Dragon, by a line of asterisks. Readers who are aware of point of view notice if there are any discrepancies. For example, when Clark asks Jonathan:
"...where are we going?" (1)
- we are told what Clark is thinking and, when Jonathan replies, we are told what Jonathan and Martha had agreed the previous evening. Clark does not know what they had agreed so the recollection of the parental agreement can only be from Jonathan's point of view. Thus, the point of view has shifted within a single conversation.
Later, a dialogue between Chloe and Lex is described from Chloe's point of view but, right at the end, we are told that she would have been surprised to know what Lex was thinking. Thus, in the concluding sentence, the omniscient narrator has intervened to comment on the thought processes of both of these characters. Some readers do not notice points of view but heeding how an author handles them adds an extra element to the appreciation of a fictional text.
(1) Alan Grant, Dragon IN Smallville Ominbus 1 (New York, 2006), p. 367.