Prompt for week: 16th February – 21st February 2015.
This exercise requires you to be omniscient, to be in the head of more than one character at a time–indeed, even to know more than both characters put together.
This can be tricky. The narrator can reveal everything about the
characters, action, places, and events, regardless of what specific people know. The author can enter every character’s thoughts, unlike in the more commonly used third person limited POV, where the narrative is told from one particular character’s viewpoint. Sometimes an author lapses into omniscient POV unintentionally while writing in limited POV.
Omniscient POV can lead to confusion if not done well. The author has to move seamlessly from one character’s view to another, and orchestrate the narrative voice to avoid a tangle of information that seems to come from everywhere at once.
Here is an example of omniscient POV:
Robert thought it odd that his supervisor was waiting in his office. He bent over his secretary’s desk and said, “Audrey, run the mail down right now, please.” Robert was always one for covering bases, and sending his secretary out on an errand would insure she could not hear what was about to take place.
*Note that we read Robert’s thoughts and also read the author’s
comment that Robert covers bases. This moves the focus away from
Robert and eases us into a transition to the secretary’s POV:
Audrey was tired of being sent away from her desk so frequently. “Sure, Robert,” she said. “I just took the mail two hours ago, though.” She left the office, walking slowly. It was obvious enough to anyone that Robert was in trouble. What made her angry was his thinking he could hide his problems with his boss by sending her out of the room.
*We see the scene from both Robert’s and Audrey’s POV, including the narrator’s observations– omniscient POV.
In 1000 words or less, shift the point of view (POV) between two or more characters within a single scene. Make the transitions between characters seamless, and let the narrator’s voice show.
Marriage – The Deal
Surya and Ram stood on the terrace of their house and were smoking.
Ram said, ‘So, what is the verdict?’
‘I don’t know. I am undecided.’
‘You don’t have that option. It’s either a yes or a no.’ Ram shrugged his shoulders.
Ram looked at Surya and smiled. He thought what a fool he was to have undermined the importance of dowry and the luxuries it could buy. It was decade ago that he was presented with the question and he made a wrong choice. Of course the woman was a right choice, but not accepting dowry when it was offered was definitely wrong then and it is wrong today. Money ‘matters.’
Surya said, ‘I’m not too sure about these arranged marriages. Look at you. You married my sister only after you two fell in love. You seem happy.’ He thought of all his colleagues mocking him in the coffee-room. He recoiled thinking of gossip and the cat-calling. The year-end- winner celebrations agenda popped before his eyes. He’d top the charts with the amount he’d be squeezing out of his father-in-law if he ever chose to marry Suma, the girl he just saw. He dreaded the thought of being called a dowry-smoocher.
He’s assail the same boat Ram was a few years ago. Will he have the same regret Ram has today for denying dowry?
Ram asked, ‘What’s on your mind? Do you love someone?’
‘Oh, no … I was thinking of dowry.’
‘What about it?’ asked Meera as she approached them with a tray holding three tea cups.
‘It is illegal to say the least. What about my self-respect?’ came Surya’s meek cry of defense.
Your self-respect can’t buy you a bloody shaving-razor. What use is it, thought Ram.
What will Meera think if she knew her husband’s thoughts? How will she react? Will Ram’s needs turn to greed transforming him into an abuser, torturing for dowry?
‘If you don’t take dowry, they’ll think you have some problem’ said Meera sipping her tea, leaning on the parapet-wall.
‘What?!’ Surya’s questioned.
‘Such are the Indian middle-class mindsets my friend’ said Ram tapping his brother-in-law’s shoulder.
If I were you, I’d grab the opportunity. Imagine what all I could buy with that kind of dowry. Nice set of four wheels, own house, jewelry for my wife, good schooling for kids. What else does a man need? thought Ram sipping his tea quietly.
‘I need to speak with Suma one more time before I give her my approval, to be my wife. I need to know what she thinks,’ said Surya.
‘I already did. Do I know you or what?’ Meera stretched her tongue out at her brother.
She said, ‘I am fine with my father offering dowry. We are three kids – two boys and me. All of us have legal rights over dad’s property. Unfortunately, the property is never divided equally among sibling. The girls are always cheated. I think this is a good way to give the girl her share and let her be happy. You can call it whatever you like. I call it dowry.’
‘She’s got a point. She’ll be a good lawyer,’ said Ram.
Yeah, she has a master’s degree in law. Imagine that! Thought Meera. Her eyes met Ram’s as she mocked yet supported her husband.
‘With mindsets like this how can we-young-men fight the social evil?’ asked Surya.
When economics drives human existence, dowry is just a name for a monetary transaction. Will it be okay if we call it a gift instead?