I?m a teacher, and I try to come up with ways that will help my students understand concepts better. So when I was teaching point-of-view a couple years ago, I came across the ideas of the Balcony, the Stage, and the Script as ways of understanding from what distance the audience experiences a story.
Point-of-view impacts how close the reader feels to what?s happening in the story. The narrator, the person telling the story, acts as a proxy for the reader and how close the narrator is to the story is how close the reader will be to the story.
We?re going to use the metaphor of a stage play to look at the different points-of-view you have to choose from when you?re telling a story.
Specifically, we?ll be looking at the view from the Balcony, the Stage, and the Script.
If a story were unfolding on a stage, the person up in the balcony would be able to observe all that was going on and tell the story from a third-person point of view. This would be an outside observer, someone outside of the story, who would be able to relate the events of the story to someone else.
This point-of-view uses third-person pronouns, such as he, she, they, as well as the names of characters in the story.
Balcony view is a great way to make the reader feel like they are watching a story unfold. When a story engages the reader?s imagination, third-person can provide a cinematic feel to a story.
Third-person POV also gives you three different approaches:
- Omniscient ? The narrator not only tells the observable actions of the story but can also relate the thoughts and emotions of each character to the reader. This gives the feeling of being both distant and close to the story because you?re an outside observer, but you?re also able to get inside of characters? heads.
- Limited ? This is like omniscient except the narrator is limited to relating the thoughts and feelings of just one character.
- Objective ? This is a more journalistic approach of conveying only what can be observed.
?Mal felt the baby kick inside her belly and knew she had to protect him.?
J.K. Rowling?s Harry Potter books were a great example of the Balcony view.
My own story ?Awakening? is told from the Balcony point-of-view.
If you?re a performer on stage in a play, then you are a part of the story. This is first-person point-of-view. In first-person, the narrator is the main character of the story and is telling his or her story as it occurred to him or her. This brings you much closer to the events of the story because you?re inside the mind of the main character and experiencing the story with him or her.
First-person point-of-view uses first-person pronouns, such as I, me, my, we, and us.
The Stage view is a great way to make the reader feel more immersed in the story, which is likely to keep them reading.
?I feel the baby kick inside my belly and I know I have to protect him.?
The Divergent series by Veronica Roth was a great example of the Stage view.
My own short story ?The Change? was written from the Stage point-of-view.
A group of actors can put on a play, but a script tells everyone what their role is and how to perform it in the story. This is second-person point-of-view. The script tells the actor where to stand, what to say, how to say it, etc. The Script view makes the reader a participant in the story because the reader is actually the main character.
Second-person uses the second-person pronoun you.
Second-person isn?t used often in fiction because it?s difficult to tell a story completely in second-person, but it can be useful to really immerse the reader in a story. The old Choose Your Own Adventure books used second-person to make readers feel like they had a choice in how the story played out.
?You feel the baby kick inside your belly and you know you have to protect him.?
Notice that the narrator is dictating to you what is happening to you in the story.
Second-person narration is rare in most popular books because it?s hard to write a story where you dictate to the reader what?s happening to them throughout. But it is a fun challenge and can be fun for readers as well.
Short Story Archive by Tom Farr
There?s nothing I love more than creating new stories, building new worlds and journeying through them with a cast of?
Tom Farr is a writer, teacher, and storyteller who believes in crafting lies to tell the truth. When he?s not enjoying the good life with his beautiful wife Lindsey and their three much-adored children, he?s striving to create stories that thrill and inspire and preparing for the day Disney calls him to write a Star Wars movie. His work has also appeared on Panel & Frame, Wordhaus, Curiosity Never Killed the Writer, The Write Practice, and The Unsplash Book. Check out his fiction writing portfolio on Medium.