Today I am going to touch upon the sensitive subject of viewpoint. Well not so much me as my better half.
I think it’s best if I let you eavesdrop on my brainwashing...I mean, lesson I had with my wife. I will leave the door open for you. Quietly now. Shhh.
“Viewpoint is important on your journey to becoming a better writer,” she tells me.
I thought being creative was enough. But no. Memsahib is emphatic, and for what seems hours tells me why. After the first few minutes I drift away to a pleasanter land.
“Are you paying attention?” she bellows.
“Yes, dear, very interesting.”
“What part did you find interesting?”
She is going up and down on her toes, which is a bad sign.
“The...the...the first bit.”
She walks behind my chair and leans close. “I will start again,” she whispers.
So, I take a deep breath and listen.
“If you start your story in the ‘I’,” she explains, “it will be a lot tighter. Here is an example. I walked down a dark alley, and sensed someone behind me. I felt the hairs go up on my arms.” This is correct,” she informs me . “You stay in the ‘I’ which is you, first person. Do you understand what I am telling you? ‘I’ is known as the first person, because you are talking about yourself.”
“Yes, dear.” I am thinking about the someone behind her in the alley, and feel compassion.
“Imagine that when you're in the ‘I’ the first person, you only know what you’re thinking, seeing and feeling. You can’t go into the mind of someone else as it will weaken the plot. Let me give you another example. Today I decided I would write in my diary about all the things I did when I went to the cafe. Now, whose viewpoint am I in?”
“The I.” I mutter.
“The I! The I! That’s right! Good man!”
“Why do you have to bother with viewpoint. Writers out there today are selling thousands of books. They don’t take notice of viewpoint? They go in and out of viewpoint like a...”
Our Rottweiler, Lucifer, slinks out the room
Have I gone too far? Yes. Memsahib’s face begins to look like a beetroot on steroids.
“Why do you always question things? Mother told me you were a trouble maker.”
I don’t know why, but I visualise a Mountain Gorilla.
“I’m listening.” I realise my better half has published over fifty five books over thirty-five years so I keep quiet.
“That day, Sally decided she would write in her diary about what she did when she went to the cafe. Tell me what viewpoint I am in now?” she fires at me quickly.
“Is it I again?” I ask timidly.
“I! Are you serious?” memsahib cracks her fingers threateningly.
“I give up.”
“Give up! It’s not a bloody game we’re playing, I’m trying to teach you the basics of writing. It is in the third person. Third person! He, She, It and they all refer to the third person. He is our best comedian. She was the best dancer on the floor. It was a very angry gorilla. He, she or it can also be referred to by their actual names, John, Jenny,or Rex”
“Right.” I try to look intelligent by lifting an eyebrow.
“Have you heard of omniscient viewpoint?”
The only thing that’s missing is a light in my face and electrodes.
“I might have,”I replied thinking this could be a trick question.
“You might have! What does that mean?
“It means God like,” I say quickly.
“Nearly there. It means that you have the ability to know everything.”
I think my wife is Omniscient.