Perspective and dialogue are strange bedfellows. The perspective you choose will often have a drastic impact on the approach you take to writing dialogue. And any writer that doesn’t take the perspective of their story into account when creating dialogue can expect to encounter disaster.
However, few writers are able to understand the important impact point of view can have on the direction of any given story and the manner in which readers will perceive it. As such, they rarely ever take the point of view (POV) of their tale into account when writing a book and creating dialogue.
Writing Dialogue from Different Points of View
Characters are the most important element of any story. Not only do they drive a given tale, but a writer’s ability to explore and immerse his audience into the perspective of a character will determine the level of success he/she can expect to attract when entertaining readers.
With most books on the shelf today following a very tame approach to storytelling (e.g. introducing heroes whose journeys they will then chronicle as they overcome various obstacles to achieve victory), breaking away from the norm can present quite a number of challenges.
Whether you are (1) outlining a story from the hero’s POV that suddenly compels you to approach things from the perspective of the villain, (2) crossing the divide to tell a story from a gender completely alien to you, or (3) simply digging into a POV unfamiliar in every way to your senses, your ability to adapt your dialogue writing accordingly will impact your level of success in writing a book. Some tips and considerations to keep in mind in this regard include the following:
You must first select a POV that most effectively matches the perspective from which you intend to approach your story. This includes first person, third person and omniscient. You might even choose to experiment with the so-called second person POV. The key is to utilize a POV that most efficiently explores this new angle to your story. Some writers have had success using the third person POV to essentially distance themselves from unfamiliar perspectives.
Writers are often encouraged to remain within their comfort zones, writing dialogue about what they know and can truly understand. As such, when exploring a new perspective, one would benefit from immersing themselves into the personalities of their characters. When male writers with a lack of experience in approaching a story from the POV of a female character decide to tackle such a challenge, for example, they will often seek the assistance of girls and women to understand the mannerisms of their speech that separates them from their male counterparts. Others may simply engage female personalities as often as possible, even eavesdropping and observing women in various social situations. Presumably, if you can learn to think and talk like the character you have in mind, then generating dialogue for them (unique to their POV) shouldn’t present any major challenges.
A lot of writers have tried to break new ground by approaching their stories from different points of view, only to forget to inject distinction into their material. Your villain’s POV cannot mirror the perspective of your hero. Equally, a story told from the POV of a frog must drastically differ from a tale chronicled from the perspective of a dashing prince. The purpose of exploring new points of view in any given story is to immerse readers into a world they are wholly unfamiliar with. So use your imagination when writing dialogue and get creative when crafting each character’s uniqueness.
Diction and Syntax
Writers are always encouraged to pay attention to the diction and syntax of their dialogue. This is especially true when writing from different points of view. The manner in which a given character’s sentences are constructed (their length, the detail in their descriptions, their pronunciations, etc.) should convey the unique perspective of any given story. For instance, positive characters tend to use flowery language while villains convey the chilling impact of their presence in the coldness of their words.
A discussion of dialogue writing in fiction isn’t complete without considering the importance of interior monologue. Interior monologue affects every aspect of the characterization and plot in your story. Just as most dialogues and narratives must propel the plot forward or deepen readers’ understanding of your characters, make sure every sentence of your characters’ internal monologue makes a meaningful contribution to advancing the plot or developing your characters.
POV is one of the most difficult elements of writing dialogue to master, and it is further complicated when one chooses to experiment with unfamiliar perspectives. If you’re planning to take on this challenge, just remember to pay close attention to detail, and aim to convey the unique purpose and personality of each of your story’s characters in every word you write.