Point of View: Developing Your Ideas

Point of View has a profound effect on how you develop your idea. Because Point of View defines your position as a narrator to the world of the song, it tells you what you’re able to see – what you’re able to talk about. 

Let’s see what effects the different Points of View have on one idea’s development. How about this:

It’s a Momentary Thing

It came to mind as a brilliant sunset splayed its light through the leaves of a maple tree. I thought, “Pay attention and enjoy this now – it won’t last long. It’s just a momentary thing.” 

Can this idea gain more impact each time we hear it? How about:

1. Sunlight through the branches: It’s a Momentary Thing
2. This present situation: It’s a Momentary Thing
3. Life: It’s a Momentary Thing

Let’s take our title and our provisional development and see what effect the various points of view have. 

Third Person Narrative

As a Third Person narrator, you’re outside the action of the song, and you know everything. You can see the future. You can even take a cosmic view. 

  1. Narrator and audience stand outside the world of the song 
  2. Narrator possesses a universal view, so,
  3. Narrator always tells the truth
  4. Narrator comments on the events in the world of the song
  5. Narrator knows the past, present and future
  6. Narrator knows the minds and hearts of every character
  7. Audience has no intimacy with narrator
  8. Audience has no intimacy with characters
  9. Narrator has an overview of time and can have more than one now
  10. The singer’s characteristics (age, gender, reputation, etc.) are irrelevant

Take a long view and use your godlike perspective, your ability to know stuff:  

1: They, walking in sunlit woods: It’s a Momentary Thing
2: They, growing old: It’s a Momentary Thing
3: Existence itself: It’s a Momentary Thing

Something like:

He walks the dappled path with her
Sunlight in the trees
A walk they’ve walked so many times before
Time slows down on days like this
Beneath the summer leaves
And every instant is its own reward, it’s
A Momentary Thing
They’ve watched the seasons come and go
That endless circling
Early leaves to the dying leaves of Fall
As years speed by they’ll come to know
The gifts that life can bring
Smiling as they understand it’s all
A Momentary Thing

From the point of view of Jupiter
The earth’s a distant scene
Bluest blue, spinning round the sun 
However slow the circle runs
However quick the ring
What’s gone before and what’s to finally come 
Is a Momentary Thing
A Momentary Thing

Take a close look at the uses of future tense above. The narrator gets to pan out to the couple’s future and finally to the future of the planet – a cosmic view. Notice how the title grows each time. 

Let’s climb off our godlike perch. Put your I-blinders on.

First Person Narrative

Now, you’re inside the world of the song with your limited viewpoint. 

  1. Narrator stands inside the world of the song 
  2. Narrator possesses a limited view, so,
  3. Narrator can lie, be ironic, be wrong; only knows his/her own truth
  4. Narrator can comment only from his/her own perspective 
  5. Narrator knows only the past and present 
  6. Narrator has no true access to the minds and hearts of any other character
  7. Audience has intimacy with narrator
  8. Audience has no intimacy with any other character
  9. Narrator is locked in time and can have only one now
  10. The singer’s characteristics are relevant

Look back at our Third Person Narrative and simply switch pronouns. I’ll wait. 

Yes, verse 3 doesn’t feel natural in First Person Narrative. Verse 2 is as far as the narrator can see – realizing life is a momentary thing. That’s verse 3. We’ll need a new verse 2:

I walk along this dappled path
Sunlight in the trees
A walk I walked so many times before
Time slows down on days like this
Beneath the summer leaves
And every minute is its own reward
It’s a Momentary Thing

I’ve spent some time in sunlit woods
I’ve passed through fields of green, 
The paths that I have traveled know my ways 
I’ve come to love the choirs of birds
How they make the forests ring 
The echo fills the summer, till it fades
It’s a Momentary Thing

I’ve watched the seasons come and go
This endless circling
From early leaves to the dying leaves of Fall
As years speed by I’ve come to know
The gifts that life can bring
Grateful, though I realize it’s all 
A Momentary Thing
It’s a Momentary Thing

Note the relentless focus on the narrator’s personal view of life. The second verse could have introduced a past love, realizing that true love is a momentary thing. Wherever verse 2 goes, we’re still totally focused on the singular world of the First Person narrator. Interesting.

We’ll finish next issue running this same idea through Second Person Narrative and Direct Address. Stay tuned.

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Phoebe Bridgers

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Point of View: Developing Your Ideas