Do you see beauty, work,
or money?
When I was young and got a chance to visit my uncle’s farm, my cuz and I would run through the trees and sneak into the wheat fields. We weren’t supposed to run in the wheat and would often leave itchy, which added to the thrill of it because we couldn't tell anyone why we were itchy. To me, the wheat smelt like giggles and it was the happiest place on earth. Still not sure why I thought that, but if giggles smelt, they’d smell fresh and exciting like wheat.
I’m much older now and know better than to run through a wheat field giggling. (As tempting as it is.) Yet, standing on the open prairies looking at the wheat around me gives me a peaceful feeling, like I can do anything. It’s my happy place. I see the entire world in that field. Its scent is welcoming, home, warm, and endless. If I pick just the right moment, it will be bathed in a gentle light and become magical.
I recently took a flight over the prairies and saw these wheat fields in a new light. Looking down, my world was very different. Cloudy, yet much bigger. Parts were broken into little patterns with defined parameters as if everything had a place I couldn’t see before. It looked harsh, demanding, and it left me with an empty feeling inside, like there was too much to do. I felt a sad hopeless rush overpower me, until I had to look away.
I’ve never been to space, but I’m told that the earth is round and my wheat field is but a speck in a sea of fields. I’m told my entire world is actually much more than what I see. I accept this even if I’ve never been that high. Not many have. This blind belief gives me hope that I am part of something I don’t have to understand, but that exist nonetheless.
Building characters takes this type of perspective. Each character in every book interacts in a unique way with their world. They need to be a part of it, tasting, smelling, and feeling the world. But! They also need to pull away from their world and be allowed to see it in a very different way. We do this by adding conflict and by changing their world. These changes force them to grow and evolve and make them real for the readers.
Through all this, the characters we build must have a blind belief that shadows them and influences their decisions. Faith.
How does this translate? What does it mean? 
In the end, we all see a wheat field, but it doesn’t leave us with the same reactions now does it? Heck, even just changing my view changed how I saw the field. It’s perspective that makes our characters as unique as us. It’s perspective that makes them grow. Best of all, it’s this perspective that makes the reader relate to them.

In Action
Here's a tiny clip from Finding Balance, that allows us to see how perspective changes our character:

I handled the pictures, but almost dropped the last one. My sister drew that? I showed Light the half-naked woman eating the heart out of a man who looked a little too much like me. “Do you have a name for her?” I asked Oracle while Light looked at it with me.

“That’s the devil if there ever was one. She’s sneaky. I see her with you in my dreams all the time. She’s your friend or something.” Oracle shrugged.

A friend? She was tearing my heart out. A wolf demon wouldn’t be easy to tame. If that was my demon, I’d learn her language. I’d find myself a wolf phasing power and live among them, learn how wolves lived. “No demon is going to eat me.” I crossed my arms a little ticked that these boys thought this about me.

“Is that what you see?” Light turned the picture for a better look. “If you ask me, this beautiful woman is giving you back your heart. See here, how she’s fighting the demon that has her in its clutches. That’s a real powerful gal.”

I yanked the picture away from him and rolled it up while glaring. I was afraid he might be right and it was months before I brought myself to face that picture again because honestly, that was worse. A demon I could handle, a woman fighting demons for me meant commitment I wasn’t sure I deserved. -Finding Balance

Giving the reader the first image was crucial, since this is what our MC sees and feels. This is his view of things and how he needs to sees things playing out. Then we give him a new perspective and force him to believe something else might be out there, something he can't understand. When he pauses to reevaluate how he's seeing things, so does the reader. Gee, maybe Light is right and she isn't ripping out his heart but giving it back. What does this mean? The message is very different, not only for him, but for the reader and in this moment, we learn the truth; he thinks he's unworthy of love. Huh.

Perspective. It puts a nice spin on our character development, and man, is it ever fun to do!
How do you use perspective? Have you noticed your perspective change lately?

Oh and here are the links I enjoyed while researching for this post, of course these guys don't see things like I do. But really, who does?
Writing Exercise-Practicing Perspective
The definition of perspective


E.J. Wesley said...

Great writeup, Tanya! You've captured, in my opinion, the biggest challenge in writing: Learning to see more than what's in front of you.

There's very little that is tangible in writing fiction. You have to see beyond the borders of pretty much everything. You have to learn to see things in new ways, ways you've never imagined. You must learn to adjust your path based upon what you've seen.

Always changing, always adapting.

Margo Berendsen said...

A great example of perspective! so neat how it works out to show an important part of his character, not feeling like he deserved commitment!

Richard said...

Such a complex subject. I've never heard it expressed this way, but it makes sense.

DUTA said...

'Perspective'- view, outlook (from the latin verb 'to see through' is widely used literally and metaphorically in writing, painting and life in general.

I occassionally use it to talk about looking at the past to get a perspective of the present.

Suzi said...

I learn new things about my writing all the time when I read my beta's perspectives about my story. So often, I don't see the characters like they do, because I am too close. Or I see them how I want them to be, not how they are.

Thank goodness for those other prespectives because sometimes the way others see it is not how I want it portrayed.

Vicki Tremper said...

Another great post, and great comments, too. My perspective changes all the time, often connected to my moods. You presented this perfectly. I love Watcher!

Tanya Reimer said...

Great insight EJ!

I love magic like that Margo.

Glad I could bring a new light to the subject, Richard. hee hee.

Oh Duta what a wonderful point. This is very important since what we learn will change our future perspective.

Now that is a perspective I need too, Suzi! Invaluable.

Good point Vicki, when I am sad or angry things look very different than when I am happy. I love Watcher too!!!!

The Golden Eagle said...

I have. Whenever I think about just how interconnected and diverse everything is--all the different lives people lead--it always forces me to consider other perspectives.

Pk Hrezo said...

Gosh, I love this, Tanya! Just tweeted it too. So so true. Perspective is a huge factor in just about everything. I love how you tied it into writing. usually, I have to give myself a different perspective on life in general by stepping back and seeing how far I've come when everything else seems to be holding me back.
That's an awesome excerpt too. I need to read that book!

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

This was wonderful, Tanya. I loved this post and the way it integrated all the point of view aspects. Really a post to read more than once. And the writing.

Teresa Cypher said...

I love this post, Tanya!

"This blind belief gives me hope that I am part of something I don’t have to understand, but that exist nonetheless." Perfect. It makes perfect sense. I htink you've done a wonderful job of pulling it all together. :-)

Victoria Lindstrom said...

This is a wonderful post, Tanya. Without perspective our writing is weak at best. BTW - I love the new look of your blog! ^_^