Three Points of View of a Flat

I'm working on two books at the moment, as I mentioned in my last post, both of them featuring the brilliant young mage Hope. In the second one particularly, I'm playing with point of view, telling the story through several different people's eyes.

As it happens, three of those people are shown seeing the same thing (a house) for the first time in the course of the two books. It's a classic writing exercise to reveal character through point of view by describing the same thing through different sets of eyes, and here I've done that writing exercise in my actual novels.

Let's hear from Hope herself first. She's the daughter of upper servants in a remote part of the realm who has come to the mainland to study magic, and she and her friend Briar are looking for a place to live. As an energy mage with a special interest in light, she mostly notices things like the colour of the paint.

The old house had been converted into several flats when the neighbourhood lost its cachet and the well-off families moved elsewhere. Built of brick, probably, Hope thought, but surfaced with plaster so you couldn’t really tell. There were no cracks, the steps were clean, and if the exterior paint was not fresh it was at least clean too, and a cheerful yellow.  Someone had made some attempt at a garden in the front, and it was free of rubbish and the shrubs were in good health, if a little shaggy.

Now let's hear what Patient thinks. He's a woodcarver.

He reached the house without further incident as the light faded from the sky. He hadn’t been there before, and was impressed with the tidy exterior. An older house, but well cared for, and some nice jigsaw work on the bargeboards....

He ascended the old-fashioned staircase -- all dark-stained wood with some very decent banister carving, though it could do with a touch-up on the stain -- turned right and knocked on the door.

And here's Rosie. Rosie's parents are wealthy, and she's lived a sheltered life. She's considering moving out on her own, though.

Promptly at the twelfth deep bell (she had inherited her respect for other people’s time from her father), Rosie fetched up in front of a smaller, plainer house than she had imagined Mage Hope living in. Of course, the mage was from a servant family, so she didn’t have inherited money, she’d made it all herself. That presumably made a difference. Which would mean that this was the kind of house Rosie could afford to live in, if it wasn’t for her parents. Hmm.

Same house. Three different viewpoints. Three different voices.

I love doing this sort of thing, having developed a taste for different character voices by reading my earlier book, City of Masks, aloud in order to put it on It only takes a few little touches to give characters distinctive voices, and I think it provides the reader with a richer experience.

Spread the word

Mike Reeves-McMillan lives in Auckland, New Zealand, the setting of his Auckland Allies contemporary urban fantasy series; and also in his head, where the weather is more reliable, and there are a lot more wizards. He also writes the Gryphon Clerks series (steampunk/magepunk), the Hand of the Trickster series (sword-and-sorcery heist capers), and short stories which have appeared in venues such as Compelling Science Fiction and Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe without commenting