Perspective is Everything–Shifting Your Point of View Can Do Amazing Things

Have you ever wanted to see inside  somebody else’s head? I have. Not all the time of course. I’ve always thought reading minds would be more of a burden than not, but there are times that it would be really interesting to see somebody else’s perspective. It could help to understand them. I am fascinated with perspective.

 

One of the things I love about being a writer is the chance to play with perspective. It can change the story so much. For example, one time I saw something where somebody took the Harry Potter titles and changed them to what it would be called if Draco Malfoy were telling the story. How different would that be? Everybody has a different perspective. Some can be very similar, but there is always something unique to that person. Perhaps that is why one of my favorite writing exercises for when I need a small warm-up is to write the same scene from several different perspectives. I decided to share one of these with you for this post. This is a scene from Gateway to Aviandria. Don’t worry, it won’t give anything huge away. I made sure of that. Here’s the scenario, just to get you started.

Alder, Dillyn, and Ashlynn are traveling along a road when they hear voices ahead. They want to make sure they are safe (Alder and Dillyn can’t be seen by soldiers) so Alder goes to scout it out while Dillyn and Ashlynn hide nearby.

Ashlynn

As I tried to attune my ears to the noise I started picking up the sounds Alder had heard. I could tell they were human voices, but I could not hear what was being said. The tones had an intensity, though, as if the people were angry, or upset.
It didn’t take long for Alder to return. “Traders,” he whispered. “Your friends from before,” he told me, “and full of trouble again.”
The natural smile Dillyn’s lips formed when he was relaxed broadened a bit, and his eyes gained a bit more sparkle. He straightened his posture ever so slightly, and I almost wondered if he found the news to be something desirable. I, on the other hand, had momentarily stopped breathing as a wave of something close to panic surfaced. I dreaded the Traders far more than I feared any soldiers. “It’s alright,” I reminded myself. “You’re with Alder and Dillyn. You’re safe.” We could easily slip around them through the forest.
Dillyn’s next question dissipated that hope faster than a flock of pigeons being chased by a dog. “What kind of trouble? What is it going to take?”
I should have known that these two wouldn’t be the type to let the trouble run its own course without getting involved. Their overpowering desire to right all wrongs, and their pleasure at the adventure, wouldn’t allow it. I suppose I really wouldn’t have wanted them any other way, but I wished that it didn’t mean tangling with the Traders again.
“It seems a farmer’s sheep have ‘wandered’ into the hands of these Traders,” Alder’s tone made it apparent he didn’t believe a word of it. “I believe the Traders need to be convinced to return them.”
“How many Traders are there?” Dillyn wondered.
“Four,” Alder answered.
“That’s not bad,” Dillyn smiled. “In fact, I think we can have a bit of fun. With the three of us…” He paused there as if realizing something. He turned to me. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I almost forgot to ask if you want to get involved with this. We will understand if you want to wait here, especially considering your history with these Traders. We can do well enough with the two of us. I will leave the decision to you.”
“You’re learning,” I couldn’t help teasing him, but I was thinking seriously about the choice he had given me. Part of me really did want to stay as far away from the Traders as I could, but there was a part of me that liked the idea of helping to thwart them. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to make the Traders wish they had never heard of me. Besides, I had been saved. It was time to pass the favor on and do what I could to save another.
“I’ll help,” I said.

Alder

The scene if front of me stirred that deep, simmering anger that plagued me from time to time. What those Traders were doing was wrong. It would be a risk—the Traders outnumbered us—but I couldn’t stand the thought of passing by without doing something. I would report my findings to Dillyn, and he would likely be able to come up with some way to allow the farmer to keep his sheep.
Both Dillyn and Ashlynn were right where I had left them, and they looked towards me with expectant expressions. It would be best to be direct. I wasn’t sure how much time we would have until the Traders stopped arguing with the poor man and just moved on despite his protests. “Traders,” I told them. “Your friends from before, and full of trouble again.”
Dillyn’s reaction was as I expected. He always smiled that way when he anticipated an adventure. There were times I had dreaded that smile, but now, it gave me hope. There might be a way.
I did feel a touch of guilt when I took note of Ashlynn’s expression, however. Her face had paled, and she had stiffened noticeably with her hands clenched by her side. For a moment I feared she had stopped breathing.
Dillyn’s next question forced my attention away from Ashlynn. “What kind of trouble? What’s it going to take?”
Now I regretted having to talk about it since it seemed to upset Ashlynn, but there was nothing to be done but get it over with. “It seems a farmer’s sheep have ‘wandered’ into the hands of these Traders.” Dillyn would know the sheep didn’t wander, as the Traders were trying to claim. They were stolen. “I believe the Traders need to be convinced to return them.” I couldn’t bring myself to look at Ashlynn. Of course, she shouldn’t have to deal with it. If we could do anything, Dillyn and I could do it ourselves. We would let her stay well hidden.
“How many Traders are there?” Dillyn made sure he had enough information to start crafting one of his plans I had come to rely on so heavily.
“Four.” My answer didn’t sound good. It would be two to one. Perhaps it would be best to wait until night and try to take the sheep back under cover of darkness.
“That’s not bad.” Dillyn sounded more optimistic than I felt. “In fact, I think we can have a bit of fun. With the three of us…” Perhaps Dillyn had caught sight of Ashlynn’s pale face because he stopped and turned to her. “I’m sorry. I almost forgot to ask if you want to get involved with this. We will understand if you want to wait here, especially considering your history with these Traders. We can do well enough with the two of us. I will leave the decision to you.”
That was a much better plan. Yes, Ashlynn’s presence would help even the odds, but it wouldn’t help enough to endanger her if we could do without her.
“You’re learning.” Ashlynn was trying to smile, but I could still see a slight trembling in her fingers. I had come to understand that she liked to take part in our activities, though they were unusual for a woman, but she couldn’t want to face these Traders again. I took a breath, about to offer my previous idea about slipping the sheep away at night, but Ashlynn spoke first. Her face hardened a bit, and with a deep breath she said, “I’ll help.”

Dillyn

The hardest part of any adventure is the waiting involved. A perfect adventure would have no waiting. This would not be a perfect adventure. Of course, it may come close, but once again, as I had done so often before, I found myself waiting for Alder to scout out the situation.
It wasn’t as if I were worried about Alder. Nobody would see him if he didn’t want to be seen. It was mostly that I wished I could be doing what he was doing myself. Not for the first time, I thought I might try and practice to see if it was a skill I could sharpen.
Fortunately, this time the wait did not last long. “Traders.” He kept his voice low as he turned toward Ashlynn. “Your friends from before, and full of trouble again.”
What luck! It looked as if we were in for a splendid adventure after all, despite the waiting. One look at Ashlynn’s face told me she was not quite so excited at the prospect. I couldn’t blame her. If she held no love for these Traders, it was little wonder. They were rogues to the core, and it was our job to stop rogues like that. “What kind of trouble?” Before I could think of a decent plan, I needed some clarification. Alder could be so frustratingly vague sometimes. “What is it going to take?”
Alder took a breath. “It seems a farmer’s sheep have ‘wandered’ into the hands of these Traders. I believe the Traders need to be convinced to return them.”
So the Traders had stolen some sheep. Well, this wasn’t the first time we had dealt with a similar situation. Our options would depend on the odds we were up against. “How many Traders are there?”
“Four.”
“That’s not bad.” My excitement grew. That meant there was only one more of them than us. Just perfect to make it challenging enough to be fun without making it too dangerous. “In fact, I think we can have a bit of fun. With three of us—”
A sudden realization struck as I glanced at Ashlynn. Her face was rather pale. I had just assumed, judging by her previous desire to be involved in everything, she would insist on helping. It looked as if I had been mistaken. Perhaps her experience with these Traders was a little too fresh in her memory. “I’m sorry. I almost forgot to ask if you want to get involved with this. We will understand if you want to wait here, especially considering your history with these Traders. We can do well enough with the two of us. I will leave the decision to you.”
“You’re learning.” Her answer didn’t say whether she wanted to take part or not. Perhaps she needed a moment to think it over. Either way, I would have a plan. It may have to be a bit more serious if it were left to just Alder and me, but it would still be possible.
Ashlynn’s desire to experience everything we did won. Taking a deep breath, she overcame her fears and said, “I’ll help.”

Same story, same scene, but each perspective gives a different twist and tells a lot about the character. This scene doesn’t really involve the bad guys enough to write in their perspective, but that can be a special challenge all on its own.

The ability to see things from different perspectives isn’t just helpful for writing. It can also make it easier to work with people in the real world. When I can understand that somebody else has a different perspective than me, I can learn to see that perspective just a little. I don’t have to agree with that perspective, but it can help me understand the person a bit better. I can sometimes understand why they are the way they are. After all, perspective is everything.

Have you ever tried to see a situation from a different perspective? How has it helped you to see things differently?

2 Responses to “Perspective is Everything–Shifting Your Point of View Can Do Amazing Things

  • This is a fascinating exercise! Now you are making me want to understand better how others view a certain situation.

    • It can be really interesting. It is something I think people forget to consider a lot. I think if people tried to see things from different points of view, it could at least help ease a lot of contention in the world.

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