Good morning! Your Thursday Quick-Write today is courtesy of guest author Megan Miranda. My favorite thing about Megan’s YA novels is the way they’re infused with science — total reading candy for geeks like me.
Megan is the author of the young adult novels Fracture and Hysteria, both published by Bloomsbury/Walker Books for Young Readers. She has a degree in Biology from MIT and spent her post-college years working in biotech and, later, teaching high school science. She currently lives near Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and two young children. Megan is represented by Sarah Davies at The Greenhouse Literary Agency. Today, she’s visiting to talk about point of view.
What We See vs. How We See
On a recent vacation, I found myself at a desk with a view of the ocean—which was coincidentally the perfect backdrop for me to write a very relevant scene of my work in progress. My main character was about to take the plunge—quite literally—into the ocean.
I started writing what I saw: the light catching off the moving water as the sun set on the horizon; the way I could see beneath the surface to a deeper shade of blue; how the world felt suddenly limitless, stretching out before me.
All of which was there and true, but also not at all how my main character would see these details. Because that character about to take the plunge into the water? She can’t swim. This same setting, filtering through me in a calm and peaceful way, would be terrifying for her. Those same details represent uncertainty for her. She’s full of anxiety. That setting sun is a ticking clock, the premonition of darkness coming. The water that seems to turn a deeper shade of blue beneath the surface is bottomless, disorienting, and something to be feared.
Setting the scene is not just what we see, but how we see it.
When describing a scene, ask yourself: What’s my narrator’s perspective?
The details our characters see are important, but how they see them gives the reader an even greater understanding.
*Who is setting the scene for us?
*What’s their mood? What are they feeling?
*Why are they there?
This is a picture I took on that vacation. It’s a beach that’s only accessible by water. But this setting can be described in countless different ways depending on who’s behind the camera, what they’re feeling, and why they’ve landed there:
*What is he or she feeling? Is she lonely? Content? Exhausted? Excited?
*Why is he or she there? Did he seek the spot for solitude? Is he hiding from someone? Is he exploring? Is he lost?
Feel free to use your own story setting, your current view out the window, or this picture, if you’d like.
But whatever you choose to describe, think about the perspective of the narrator. What’s his or her mood? Why is he or she there?
And let your narrator tell us how he or she sees the scene.
Feel free to share in the comments if you’d like!