Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Point of view

Friday, October 10, 2008

Everything is a matter of point of view. The camera I use to take most of my pictures is a Panasonic Lumix DMZ FZ30 which I've had for more than two years. It can be set to take several shots. Each shot is bracketed. That means each of the three shots has a different exposure, a base exposure, one exposure which is 2/3 of a stop over the base exposure, and one exposure 2/3 under. In other words, there is the basic picture, a second exposure letting in more light and a third exposure letting in less.

And each of the pictures has a different feeling. One can be dark and gloomy, another bright and filled with detail, and the third somewhere in between. But they are all the same picture.

The same can be said for other factors too. Distance, angle, the focal length of the lens, all those things affect the picture.

So it is with writing. Point of view is everything. In
The Body in the Record Room, the whole book is told from my Roy Rogers' point of view. My Roy Rogers has a lot of things to face, but he is also resilient, determined to get by no matter how bad the situation might be. He uses his wit and his way of manipulating situations to his advantage.

Had the story been told from the point of view of someone who was bitter or angry, it would have been a different story. And had it been told from the point of view of someone who was even more mentally ill than my Roy is, it would again have been different.

Some mystery writers combine points of view. One chapter might be third person (told from outside any character) and then later in the book, the author might switch to first person. Sometimes there are several chapters each from the first person point of view of a different character. I think James Patterson was the first mystery writer I noticed doing that.

And like in the pictures, the point of view shades the whole story.

To me, this is an especially important point in the Roy Rogers books. They are about mental hospitals, places seen as "wild and woolly," as one person told me in an email. But it is all a matter of point of view. You can take a One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest point of view, or you can take other points of view such as the one my Roy Rogers has.

I was aware that no matter what I wrote, to some people acquainted with state mental hospitals the writing would seem false because they had different points of view than my Roy has. But I can't help that. All I can do is tell the story as I feel called to tell it. Others can write other kinds of stories.

And all I can do is remain true to whatever point of view I have chosen. I have chosen my Roy Rogers' point of view.

So writing and photography have this in common. Point of view is everything. There are other things which are important too, but in one sense, point of view is where it all begins.

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