Sometimes You Need to See the World Through the Eyes of an Iowa Farm Girl09/24/2012
It all depends on how you look at something, right? You’ve got your point of view, I’ve got mine. When talking about the banter that goes on between people who are trying to get others to sympathize with their angle on things, point of view means nothing more than one’s opinion on a topic. But when writers talk about point of view, the discussion gets complicated.
Writers know about the trials and tribulations of point of view, even if we’re not always very good at talking about it. I have a new novel, The Fall of Alice K., written from the “third-person limited” point of view of a seventeen-year-old female.
Last time I checked, I’m not a young female. I’m not a young anything. Here you have an oldish man writing from the point of view of a teenage woman. Huh?
Why did that oldish guy choose a young woman’s point of view?
Here’s the honest answer: He didn’t: The story asked for that point of view.
During my years as a college writing teacher, I encouraged students to experiment with point of view, and often students discovered that the story was transformed totally by looking at the material from a different angle: from a different character or narrator’s point of view.
When I started writing The Fall of Alice K., I tried a young man’s point of view. I don’t know why it wasn’t satisfying, but it wasn’t. His name was Johan. I don’t know: maybe it was a bad name and the name killed his character before it could get off the ground. I knew it was going to be a story about family and traditions and how these have a grip on us. I knew I wanted to write a love story about young people from different traditions and their struggle to define themselves and their love against their own cultural and familial backgrounds. The characters of Alice and her friend Lydia just marched onto the stage and took over. I liked them from the moment I met them. Oh, I could see traces of real people in them—my tall and athletic grand nieces; dozens of gifted students I’ve worked with over the years; and the innumerable witty, sentence-finishing, brilliant women that I know or have known.
Once I allowed Alice onto the stage, the story wrote itself.
Want to see the world from Alice’s perspective? Purchase your copy of The Fall of Alice K. today.
Jim Heynen is perhaps best known for his collections of short prose featuring young farm boys, most notably The One-Room Schoolhouse: Stories about the Boys. The Fall of Alice K. is his debut adult novel.