In a previous post for #authortoolboxbloghop, I spoke about narrative perspective and character interiority. I did so by distinguishing between the narrator and the focal character. The narrator speaks the narrative, but the point of view and opinions that drive the narrative belong to the focal character. They can be the same person, but not necessarily.
As a quick reminder, there are three patterns of focalization:
- Zero / Non-Focalization
- Internal Focalization
- External focalization
In this post, I’ll be focusing on internal focalization. If you’d like to learn about the others, click here.
When using internal focalization, the narrative perspective limits itself to a single point of view. We don’t know any more than the focal character whose POV drives the narrative. For example, in Six of Crows, the focal character changes each chapter. When Kaz is the focal character, we only have access to his thoughts/opinions/feelings, we don’t know what Inej, for example, is thinking. In other words, the narrator knows only as much as the focal character.
There are three categories within internal focalization:
- Fixed Internal
- There’s only one focal character throughout the novel. Ex: The Hunger Games. The story is told entirely through Katniss’ perspective.
- Variable Internal
- The POV switches between different characters. Ex: Six of Crows. Sometimes we’re in the POV of Kaz, other times Inej, Nina, etc.
- Multiple Internal
- Where we have more than one POV on the same scene.
Understanding narrative perspective is crucial to good writing. More often than not, one of the notes I make in reader reports is that there is no access to character interiority. There’s a lot of ‘Emily did this…and Emily did that…’ but what about her thoughts? Feelings? If I don’t have access to the interiority of a character, I won’t be able to connect with them. This relates to Free Indirect Discourse – you can also learn more about that here.
Questions? Thoughts? What pattern do you prefer to write in? Comment below!
P.S I’ve got an open slot for a full MS critique in January. You can check out my services here.