You could stand on your front porch with two of your friends and watch something going on across the street. All three of you would see different things. You might notice the two children hiding with the dog, one friend might see that the female was scared and the other might notice that while they both were yelling that it was the male who kept backing up. Three people, three differing perspectives.
Ever had a discussion with your spouse and they simply aren’t getting what you are trying to explain? Several years ago, we had a fire in the house. There was a lot of smoke damage which led to the old wall paper coming down and my hubby having to hang more. We had the paper picked out and he was preparing the wall to put it up. I’d gone shopping to one of those stores where if you see something you like, you get it because it won’t be there when you go back. I’d found a bunch of wall type stuff that either exactly matched the border pattern or would go well with it. I had fun shopping! I came home with three bags of stuff. While my husband thought it was all cool and would look great, he could not understand WHY I got it right then when the wall paper was still on the roll. I, meanwhile, knew that it wouldn’t go up for a bit, but that by the time it could, I’d have figured out exactly what would go where so it could go up in a flash and the room would be ‘finished.’ We went round and round and it came down to a cliched Mars/Venus thing…or… two different perspectives!
Autumn. To me it means the deadline is approaching when all my authors’ books need to hit the printer and that Christmas is coming. To my hubby it means one thing: Hunting season! To my daughter, autumn means walks in the woods, falling leaves, cooler weather and school. To her boyfriend it means football and raking a ton of leaves and getting the house ready for winter. Same season…very different interpretations!
Perspectives will vary in character development as well. Too often, it seems that writers forget this and that the author’s viewpoint varies little between characters. Sure, the two main characters might have very different viewpoints, but everyone else seems to be peering through the exact same lens and, as a result, it doesn’t work or seems skewed. Bottom line, it doesn’t read as realistic.
People’s viewpoints or perspectives change as they age and characteristics become more set. Some guys are neat, some clean when ‘Mom’ comes over and others look around, shrug and think all is fine because they don’t even ‘see’ the laundry pile, empty cans and the dead plant. I know females like that as well. It is important for writers to realize that when there are numerous characters in a novel, that each will bring it’s own viewpoint to what is going on around them and that each will have their own unique way of handling a situation. Letting your characters own their own viewpoints, perspectives, idiosyncrasies and habits will allow them to have depth, be a solid entity and make them come alive.
Readers are the same. Each can and will bring their own experiences, emotions and attitudes to your characters when reading. One person’s ‘favorite’ character in your writing might be another’s least liked. It really may not matter that one is written to be likable and another is not because a reader will always view them through the lenses that are bases on their lives.
A few ideas to keep in mind…