Writing Prompt--Two Points of Views

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

August 31, 2010 -- 3:04 p.m.

I'm reading a book that features the POVs of multiple siblings. As soon as I saw that, I sat back and started waiting for the father to die. It took 100 pages for him to kick the bucket, but kick the bucket he did. After George R.R. Martin did that so wonderfully in Game of Thrones, other authors have tried imitating it with various levels of success. Most of them end up failing. At this point in time, I'm so jaded, I prefer the authors who kill the father off pretty quick, or make it so obvious he's going to die, you're interested in the how, not the actual event. Books whose only twist is that the father dies bore me, because I can see it coming from fifty miles away.

The amazing thing is, when I read Game of Thrones the first time, I didn't see it coming. Looking back, I'm not sure how I missed it. Fantasy books are like Disney moives--if daddy's there at all, daddy's going to die so that the kids can go on adventures. Mommy is sometimes left alive--perhaps because our social views of women allow for a more passive female character. Mom is helpless, but dad, if he were alive, would do something, so we have to kill him for the sake of the plot. I've heard discussions of "orphan syndrome" related to middle grade and young adult fiction, but not in fantasy as a genre. The only example I can think of at the moment where the dad didn't die is Wheel of Time.

I think why Game of Thrones succeeded in the whole orphaning is because George R.R. Martin is such a wizard with slight of hand. He had us focussed on the mystery, the politics, the threads going on in other realms... (the wall, Daeny). We were so busy wondering if Cercei was going to kill Robert or Jaime was going to kill the children or what that we didn't notice the main character's death sneaking up on us.

So, if you're going to kill a father-figure in your book, at least give me a mystery to distract me while I wait for the inevitable assassination/beheading. Better yet, maybe you can let a father live, occasionally.

August progress report: I'm currently reworking a revision of God's Play; adding occasionally to Skin Farm, which is now two-thirds done; and plotting a new epic fantasy novel called City of Murderers, which may be my next project. I have more projects than I have patience to write. I'm listening to Terry Pratchett audio books and the aforementioned father-killing novel, which so far has been a demonstration of incredibly poor writing. I keep wondering if it's a translation, because many of the sentences make absolutely no sense. Terry Pratchett, on the other hand, is brilliant, and even more brilliant when read in the dry, British accents of Nigel Planer.


Title: Agree to Disagree
Genre: Any
Type: Character

So I had a dream. I don't remember the content, but I do remember this--I was watching something, something significant. I woke up and rolled over and went back to sleep. I repeated the same dream, except this time, I was someone different. And it showed. The changes in my perception were slight, but important. My actions were slightly different as well. Both character perceived each other's reasons for doing things completely inaccurately.

This happens in real life. Three people will remember the same conversation differently. They will also remember the same event differently.

I want you to take two characters through a scene. Any kind of scene--an argument, repairs to a space station in orbit, a battle against a red-skinned monster with three tongues. Write the scene from one POV, and then write the same scene from the other character's POV. How accurate are each character's perceptions? You can have them be diametrically opposed, if you want, but I think this exercise is more interesting with two characters who view the same things with only slight differences.

You can do this one of two ways. If you're like me, a discovery writer, then you write the two scenes and then compare them to gleam the differences in personality and such. If you're an outliner, you might come up with a list of major differences between how the characters see the world and try to work them into the text.


  1. Craig Lee, (Durham, England) said...

    Lol I totally wish I hadn't read this. I finally got around to starting 'A game of Thrones' and only have about a hundred pages to go before I've completed it, and I had no inclination that Eddard was to meet his death. At least you didn't reveal how he died...that much I can still look forward to being surprised at haha.

    This is totally my own fault for taking so long to actually start the series. I'm definitely looking forward to TV miniseries, and I think Sean Bean is going to be AWESOME as Eddard!


  2. Unrepentant Escapist said...

    Sorry Craig. I totally thought about putting a spoiler warning on it, then I'm like, the book is how many years old? I should have done it anyway. Whoops!

    Sean Bean will be awesome as Eddard. He was a good Boromir and he did well in the Richard Sharpe miniseries, which was very corny in some ways, but had good acting.

  3. Craig Lee, (Durham, England) said...

    Haha you are forgiven. Though if you spoil TWoK before I've read that, I will not be impressed ;-)

    I concur with you about Sean Bean. I grew up watching him as Sharpe (I think there have been about 15 of them now?!). I loved him as Boromir, and he also gave a great performance in an indie film called Black Death.

    I've finished A Game of Thrones now (finally lol) and am well into A Clash of Kings. I have just watched the new promo for the HBO miniseries for AGoT, and I totally cannot wait!

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