How I Write Part 5: Perspective

I think we’ve all had that experience where we’re watching a movie or reading a book and we suddenly realize that we thought of something that the writer didn’t think of. There’s a hole in the plot and the more you think about it, the bigger the hole gets. Anyone with any good amount of writing under their belt can probably remember plot holes of their own that they discovered. I know I have.

Plot holes can kill a story and given all the work you’re putting into the story, it’d be nice to avoid them. There is no easy way to do this, but I do know a couple of techniques that work fairly well for me.

Even with well developed characters, there are times that the plot can get away from us. Things happen in the story because we need them to rather than because of the actions of the characters. This is when your plot starts to fall apart. Here’s how you stop this from happening.

It’s time to write some more outlines. Rather than telling the whole story like in previous outlines, these are different. Take every character and write their story. This is the same story you’ve been working on, but it’s from just that character’s perspective. It only includes the knowledge and experience that character has. If the character is a main character, it’s likely to include almost all of the story. If it’s an insignificant character, the outline might be very short. Write the outline like the character told you the story of what happened.

Now I know it probably seems like a lot of work for nothing. You might think you can get away with just doing this with the main characters, but really, the more characters you do this for, the better off you’re going to be. Occasionally you’ll find that you assumed a character had knowledge he didn’t actually have or you’ll find that a character was apparently doing nothing for an extended period of time simply because you didn’t need her in the plot for a while.

There are people who think you can skip this step, but I really think it’s one of the most important things you can do for your story.

– Jack Cameron

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