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Writing Exercise: Switching Points of View

September 13, 2010

Today I’m sharing one of the most useful writing exercises I’ve come across.   Trent Jamieson put us through our paces using a version of this exercise in a short story writing workshop last year.

This exercise is excellent for figuring out where to go next when you’re caught in a narrative bind, by looking at a scene from a number of different perspectives. Widening your experience of a tricky scene often unlocks the key for progression, consolidation or a new direction. It is also an excellent exercise in creating unique character voices.

Step One

  • Write a one paragraph scene based on this week’s [Fiction] Friday prompt: Why did the Toothfairy fail to deliver coins one evening?
  • Ensure the scene involves at least two characters (you may choose to have more than two if you wish).
  • Write from first person or limited third person POV (point of view) so you are actually writing someone’s perspective.
  • Take no more than ten minutes to write.

Step Two

  • Take the original scene and write from the perspective of someone else present.
  • Again limit yourself to no more than a paragraph and ten minutes of writing time.

Step Three

  • Write the scene for a third time but this time, write from the perspective of someone outside of the ‘action’ in the scene, someone who has not been seen or mentioned in either of the previous paragraphs.
  • Same time and length limitations apply.

Post your paragraphs to your blog and link in the comments section along with any reflections on your experience with this exercise.

Image: Hecate, the triple Goddess of Greek mythology.

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4 Comments
  1. September 13, 2010 10:56 am

    This was a great exercise. It was interesting to write from the different point-of-views and quite a task to get them all to line up and tell a complete story. Thanks Jodi for sharing this exercise. It was a tough one.

    You can read my attempt here:

    http://rachelspillowbook.blogspot.com/2010/09/toothfairy.html

  2. September 13, 2010 11:00 am

    I think Hecate ate my comment.

    Jodi, I really enjoyed this exercise. Thanks for sharing. It was interesting to write from the different points of view and then to make each piece tell the same story.

    You can read my attempt here:

    http://rachelspillowbook.blogspot.com/2010/09/toothfairy.html

  3. September 13, 2010 7:05 pm

    What a coincidence (well two!). One is that I used to work with Trent hehe. Two is that I just did this last night, rewrote a story from the other character’s POV. I will have a go at this exercise today and post my link. Thanks Jodi!

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