Fisher-Price People Changed My Point of View

Point of View: n. 1. A manner of viewing things, an attitude. 2. a. A position from which something is observed or considered; a standpoint. b. The attitude or outlook of a narrator or character in a piece of literature.

I write non-fiction with a decent comfort level. I can write to different audiences with a broad perspective or a personal one. I can write about people, using their names and ideas to tell their story. I can explain generalized ideas with specific examples. I can also express emotion when I write about myself.

Right now, I write fiction with a lot of angst. Angst that it is not good enough. Angst that it feels detached. Angst that it is boring.  I know my non-fiction writing experience will make me a better fiction writer, but for now, I’m not at the same comfort level.

I’ve been asking myself: How do I make what is not real feel real, sound real, read real? I think I need to give up real and play pretend. Or that’s at least what my husband recommends. So, how do I pretend?

Original Fisher-Price Little PeopleMany, many years ago I imagined stories in my head with the Fisher-Price Little People. They were my characters at the Little People School House or Hospital in the ultimate chokable size. I could speak their lines to each other or push them in a wheelchair from the ambulance. I walked them to school where they would talk with there teacher with a really cute bun head and sit them into their perfectly-sized school desks. I put myself in their Little People heads and played it out from their point of view.

Then I had children of my own and the Little People grew bigger so they were no longer a choking hazard. I tried to maneuver these chunky bodies on the Little People Farm, and it just felt awkward, never mind how silly I sounded to myself making up their words for them.

Now, all my actual little people have grown up and fitted themselves into actual desks. Since I’m not worrying that they will choke on everything anymore, I have time to pretend, again. And I’ve struggled to do it.

Maybe the adult alternative to carting out Little People and their settings is to pretend like I actually am my character—change my point of view. I’ve been writing in third person, which is the point of view I like most to read. But what if, I tried a chapter in first person, the point of view I least like as a reader?

The result? I didn’t know I could look so good with my hair up in one of those cute buns. No, I wasn’t transformed, nor was my writing. But it became more natural, less forced. It flowed more smoothly, and I didn’t stop myself in the writing process nearly as much.

In real life, our point of view changes our outlook (see an example of that in this video) .  Maybe it’s the same in the pretend world, too.

As a reader, which point of view do you like best? As a writer, which point of view helps you find your voice?

My mom still has the wooden Little People school teacher with the yellow bun, but I found a picture of her on-line, courtesy of  This Old Toy.com

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4 Comments

  1. terena
    Feb 20, 2009

    As a reader, I like all points of view, as long as the characters are strong. Same goes for writing. I’ve been playing more with first person in my writing lately and it does create a sense of immediacy, but I miss being able to leap from POV to POV to give each character more options. However, I wonder if focusing on just one voice will make the overall story stronger? Still playing with that.

    I actually act out parts in my stories, sometimes wearing hats to represent each character, or changing my hair. I’m sure it’s funny to anyone watching to see me pacing around in my room wearing a vintage hat, talking to myself, then dashing to my desk to type several pages, then getting up again and pacing, waiving my arms around, talking to imaginary people. But this physical movement helps me get inside the imaginary people I’m creating on the stage, and I never was one to worry too much about other people thinking I’m weird. Yeah, I know I am. 🙂

  2. An Ordinary Mom
    Feb 20, 2009

    I miss those old school little people … I wish my mom hadn’t donated all of hers.

    As far as being a reader, I don’t care so much what point of view I read as long as the writing is good. Seriously. If you can pull me in, I will read.

  3. I love this post. I must admit, it was the Little People that got me first. They look just like the ones I grew up with (and yes, mine are still at my parents’ house, where my kids used to play with them). But I can relate to more than just the toys of my past. I can also relate to the experience of Writer’s Angst and doubt, and I love how simple yet elegant your solution is: shifting your point of view. I bet it’s a good solution to apply to many angst-causing situations in life, too, not just in writing. 🙂

  4. Jon
    Feb 20, 2009

    Either works, but first person requires more (better written, more depth…) to be as engaging. My last English professor essentially told me only stories like Edgar Allen Poe’s should be first person. I don’t agree with that especially as she wanted me to make my story third person and I could not see it that way.

    As far as writing goes it is just hard either way.

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