By: Chris Winkle
Using the right viewpoint character can give your story a big boost. But all too often, writers choose viewpoint characters that turn their narration into an uphill battle. Whether you’d like to supplement your hero’s viewpoint with visits from side characters, or you’re unsure of which character your story’s about, here’s what you should ask yourself.
Who Cares About the Conflict?
Scenes must hook the reader. For that, they’ll need a conflict: an unresolved problem that could end well or poorly for a character. Then readers need to care about this unresolved problem. It’s incredibly difficult to get readers to care if your viewpoint character doesn’t. In the 1982 book Battlefield Earth, L. Ron Hubbard makes the impending death of humankind feel trivial with a viewpoint character who talks about it like he’s discussing the weather.
The more your viewpoint character cares about the problem, and the more your audience understands why, the stronger your hook will be. For that, readers may need context. If the viewpoint character loses her job, readers should know that she can no longer afford her medication. If the viewpoint character watches as an inter-world gate collapses, readers should know that it separated him from his family. Using a character’s viewpoint enables you to describe the context and illustrate how your character feels. This is invaluable for showing that your conflict is worth reading about.
Who Knows What Readers Need to Know?
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