CWN 005: Point of View

While I don’t consider writing from different perspectives a distinctive quality of Virginia Woolf’s writing, I do like today’s exercise from The Creative Writer’s Notebook — write three versions of the same scene, each with a different point of view.

First Person

It was her smile that caught my attention, made me notice her among the sea of dining faces, a beam of sunlight bursting through the crowded clouds. Her eyes caught mine, staring at her; I held her gaze, nodded, expecting her to turn attention back to her two friends sitting on either side of me. Yet she stared back, unblinking; rose from her chair, strode confidently to my table. Then pulled at the chair opposite mine and sat as if it had been reserved in her name.

Second Person

Your plan — actually you had no plan, other than to enjoy a good meal. By yourself, for the first time in many months. Not over your loss by any means, but more than ready to take that first step. The Italian Door; Yelp reviewers had not been kind, but you’re determined to try some place you’ve never dined before. It’s pasta, for chrissakes. You decide not to order the chicken parmesan (your favorite, but the critics on Yelp had heaped disdain on that choice); stuffed shells it is. You watch the waiter leave with your menu, and your eye catches the attention of a young woman, sitting with two friends, three tables away. You surprise yourself by holding her gaze, and she surprises you by standing, walking over to your table, and wordlessly sitting across from you.

Third Person

He handed the menu back to the waiter with disinterest, his order received with as little enthusiasm as it had been offered. Observant eyes scanned the room quickly, then suddenly stopped as they lighted on a point of interest. A face, female, smiling and friendly. Seeing her eyes catch his, he instinctively nodded, then without thinking brushed his hair back off his forehead. His face suddenly stiffened as he saw her rise from her table, quickly excusing herself from her two friends, and walked over to his table and sat, as if suddenly realizing she had been sitting with the wrong guests.

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