3. Character Point of View
(ii) POINT OF VIEW IN POPULAR FICTION
Film is an external perceptual medium. Sometimes we may accompany one character for long periods, but the camera still ‘sees’ from many different angles. Only in very special case would the director try to make the camera behave like the eyes of a single character.
Modern literary novels are often at the opposite extreme, in love with point of view for its own sake. That is, they’re fascinated by the fact that no individual’s experience is quite the same as anyone else’s. So point of view jumps from one total immersion to another, simply to demonstrate the differences of subjectivity.
Popular genre writers operate in the middle. They aren’t interested in demonstrating the differences of subjectivity as a message, and they are interested in keeping the action flowing—which is hardly possible when you’re jumping between separate perspectives on the same event. However, immersion in a particular point of view does have its benefits.
One obvious benefit is personal involvement. Seeing the world as one character sees it, we get to share their hopes and fears and expectations—all the invisible factors that extend beyond the immediate action and give this moment its special emotional significance. Novels can’t match the vivid visceral presentation of action in movies, but they’re better at personalising the action with a particular character’s hopes and fears and expectations.