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Why Viewpoint Matters

Why Viewpoint Matters


Freelance Author, Fiction

Mentoring a fiction group in the Morning Mentoring Clinic, March 2016; Teaching a one-hour workshop



Think about the last book that made you forget everything but the story. Maybe making dinner slipped your mind. Maybe you stayed up way past your bedtime.

Why do we do this?

A deeply involved reader is temporarily convinced that the story events are really happening. For as long as she’s reading that book, she actually feels like she’s a character, experiencing the romance and adventure, the strange and wonderful world that the author created.

But a human being can only be in one place at a time, experiencing one person’s thoughts. That’s why—to convince readers that they are living the story—it’s vital for a writer to understand viewpoint.

Skillful authors use viewpoint well, and once the adventure ends, their readers thank them—after recovering from those forgotten dinners and missed hours of sleep. Satisfied readers want to repeat the experience, too. They want to buy the next book in the series. They recommend the author to their friends, so they can share the excitement.

Good, strong viewpoint anchors the reader in every scene without confusion or frustration. Authors use many kinds of viewpoint, but one in particular is easiest to write well: we call it “third person limited.” Since the reader becomes one character in every scene, living in story time, it feels like real life. To create this sense of living inside the story, an author uses vivid, active verbs, skillful speaker attributions, body language and gesture, realistic sequencing, and other elements of strong fiction writing.

That’s why studying viewpoint is essential. I’d love to see you next spring at Mount Hermon, where I’ll teach an afternoon workshop on taking your readers along on the journey using strong viewpoint.

Kathy Tyers Gillin


You’ll meet Kathy Tyers Gillin at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22, where she will lead the Morning Mentoring Clinic for Fantasy and Speculative Fiction writers and teach a one-hour workshop.

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