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View Full Version : Objective vs Subjective in Viewpoint



shtara42
03-20-2006, 01:53 PM
Can anyone give me a good talk on objective vs subjective in terms of viwpoint or POV?

Maryn
03-20-2006, 06:16 PM
I bet reph can! I'm just saving her place...

Maryn, still socking down coffee until she's wakeful enough to write

Jamesaritchie
03-20-2006, 08:01 PM
Can anyone give me a good talk on objective vs subjective in terms of viwpoint or POV?

Objective is when you don't get into the head of any character. Subjective is when you do.

For a classic example of objective viewpoint, read Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants." http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~conreys/101files/Otherfolders/Hillslikewhitepg.html

Nowhere in this story is the reader allowed inside a character's head, and it works beautifully.

Subjective viewpoint means you're inside the head of one character, and the reader sees everything through this character's subjective opinion. Everything is colored by his feelings, his biases, his beliefs, etc.

reph
03-20-2006, 09:39 PM
I bet reph can!
Reph bets experienced fiction writers can do it better. The question concerned viewpoint, not grammar.

maestrowork
03-20-2006, 11:14 PM
Objective viewpoint is also called camera view. The narrator is the camera (imagine a movie) and can only observe what actually happen (things said, action, etc.) but not thoughts or feelings.

Subjective is when the narrator actually goes inside the characters head (thoughts, feelings, etc.).

TheIT
03-21-2006, 03:59 AM
Once you've started writing in one style of viewpoint, can you switch to the other? I tend to write a lot in subjective viewpoint, but sometimes when the action is heating up I need to widen the focus and get out of the POV character's head. What sort of techniques are available for transitioning?

Jamesaritchie
03-21-2006, 05:02 AM
Once you've started writing in one style of viewpoint, can you switch to the other? I tend to write a lot in subjective viewpoint, but sometimes when the action is heating up I need to widen the focus and get out of the POV character's head. What sort of techniques are available for transitioning?

I don't leaving the protagonist's head when the action heats up is a good idea. That's when you most need to be in his head, and when leaving it can cause severe problems.

Pick a viewpoint and stick with it.

reph
03-21-2006, 05:50 AM
Many helpful things have been said on the Novels forum about when and how to (and not to) change POVs. Try "point of view" in the search box.

TheIT
03-21-2006, 05:58 AM
I'm not talking about switching from one POV character to another. What I meant was describing a scene from inside a POV character's head complete with description of emotion, then pulling back to describe the action in a broader sense but still from the same POV character's perspective. Sometimes the POV character is in the middle of the action, but sometimes the POV character is simply an observer of other people's actions.

reph
03-21-2006, 06:06 AM
What I meant was describing a scene from inside a POV character's head complete with description of emotion, then pulling back to describe the action in a broader sense but still from the same POV character's perspective.
Sure. You can use that kind of movement to control pacing. It makes emotional peaks and valleys.

What's the problem with transitions? When you write as you said, does the product seem disjointed?

TheIT
03-21-2006, 06:12 AM
Sure. You can use that kind of movement to control pacing. It makes emotional peaks and valleys.

What's the problem with transitions? When you write as you said, does the product seem disjointed?

Yes. It could be that I just need more practice describing the action.

Jamesaritchie
03-21-2006, 07:27 AM
I'm not talking about switching from one POV character to another. What I meant was describing a scene from inside a POV character's head complete with description of emotion, then pulling back to describe the action in a broader sense but still from the same POV character's perspective. Sometimes the POV character is in the middle of the action, but sometimes the POV character is simply an observer of other people's actions.

I'm still not sure what you mean. You're either in that character's head, feeling everythng he feels, hearing everything he hears, seeing everything he sees, smelling everything he smells, or you aren't. Once in there, you have to stay there.

Everything you write is described as he sees it, hears it, feels it, smells it, or tastes it. You can't write more than this, and you can't write less.

If he's an observor to something, you still write only what he thinks, sees, hears, feels, smells, or tastes.

Distance from action might change what he thinks, knows, believes, sees, hears, feels, smells, or tastes, but it doesn't change the way you write. Everything is guided by these things.

Even if he's an observor, you can't write about anything unless he thinks it, sees it, hears it, feels it, smells it, or tastes it.

There is no transitioning. Whatever he thinks, knows, believes, sees, hears, feels, smells, or tastes is all you can write about, whether he's in the midle of action, or whether he's a hundred miles from the action.

Eseentially, you must pretend you are that character. If you were standing where he is, taking notes on real action, what could you write? Think about it. You're a reporter. A real person standing right where he is, doing exactly what he's doing. It would be impossible for your to write anything other than what you think, know, believe, see, hear, feel, smell, or taste.
No matter where a character is, or what he's doing, this is all you're allowed to write.

What you can do, however, is switch scenes, ands usually locations, and when you do, you change viewpoint characters. The new veiwpoint character becomes your subjective viewpoint, and you write only what this character thinks, knows, believes, sees, hears, feels, smells, or tastes until you decide it's time to change scenes again, when you decide on a new viewpoint character.