In my first article about John Scott’s compelling Voice in his recent “A Guy Like Me” post on ThePlayersTribune.net, we stepped through the various elements comprising an author’s voice. If you’ve landed here first, sneak on back and read through that intro post for better perspective below.
Let’s break down the first element…
Point of view
Mr. Scott’s opening lines carry a strong personal bias, exposing details of what would normally be a private, League-only conversation.
“Hey, John, can we talk for a second?”
I guess I should have known.
But I have absolutely no idea what’s coming.
Right off, we’re in his head and treated to a rare locker room perspective as he recaps the events that have since made so many waves in the NHL hockey fandom. First Person is the most private and vulnerable of all the points of view (POVs) and is ideal for telling stories that benefit from developing a deep, personal connection with the character. For this article, Mr. Scott needs us to be intimately engaged with his emotions, and telling the story from his POV is the perfect opportunity to give the other elements of his Voice power.
A second—and equally important—aspect of Mr. Scott’s POV is the tense. “A Guy Like Me” is written in present tense, meaning he tells the story as if it is unrolling in real time. Where past tense lends the reader a sense of security (after all, the character obviously survived to recount the events!), present tense heightens tension and colors the narrative with an aura of danger.
In fact, here’s another great example (writing sample) of First-Present POV: As I’m writing this article, I hear a triumphant yell from my husband’s office. I hurry over to check things out and he says, “John Scott just scored. With Pavs and Burns!” The All-Star game, the one that started all this NHL ruckus, is happening as I write this article about John Scott’s Voice. And the man the NHL tried to keep out of the game has just scored. How apropos. Serendipitous, really.
In my experience, First Person—especially written in present tense—is one of the most challenging viewpoints to write from. It requires authors to forge a true connection with and understanding of the character they’re portraying, and expressing utter sincerity is an absolute must. Done right, readers will devour your story and beg for more. Fail to deliver, though, and you may lose reader trust.
Keep reading for my thoughts on how the nuances of speech formality play a role in Voice. (Coming soon!)