So much in life depends on your point of view, and the same is true of writing fiction. There is a world of difference between a fast-paced first person single viewpoint thriller, for instance, and a book where third person viewpoints are forever shifting around. Choice of approach to viewpoint is an important decision for most novelists.
I’ve been reading a thriller which prompted reflections on viewpoint, because it does something I don’t think I’ve ever encountered before. I won’t give the title, or any details, because I don’t want to spoil the story, but the basic set-up is this. We begin with a first person account of dramatic events, which set up the mystery very effectively.
The viewpoint then shifts, and events are seen from the perspective of someone to whom the first protagonist turns for help. This shift from first person writing to third person is something I’ve never done, but it does seem to be becoming increasingly popular. In a nutshell, I guess the author is trying to combine dramatic tension (first person) with plot development (third person).
We then have a second third person viewpoint (a colleague of the second viewpoint character). Again, the author was clearly trying to get round a plot development challenge.
But then comes the great shock. The first person viewpoint character is murdered. The last we hear is that the villain is about to kill him – end of chapter. I wondered if there was to be a cunning twist, but no – his body is discovered, and that is the end of him
This left me feeling rather unsettled. How was the first person viewpoint character able to tell his story in this way?
I’m not sure I’ve explained this very well, but I’m trying not to give too much away. I’d be interested in how other readers and writers feel about viewpoint shifts of this kind.