Sunday, January 21, 2007

Dueling Viewpoints

So, I've started reading THE HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG by Andre Dubus. What strikes me thus far is what a good example it is of an effective use of multiple viewpoints. He basically sets it up that you find yourself sympathizing with 2 characters on opposing sides of an experience. They can't both get what they want, by by alternating between their viewpoints and making both sympathetic, he makes you hope they both get what they want. In so doing, he illuminates a particular concept - that to achieve the American Dream, it may often be at the expense of someone else's dream. Anyway, that's my impressions thus far.

Dueling viewpoints, anyone? Have you ever explored this in a piece? If so, what was your goal? Did you succeed? Why or why not?


  1. I think I've explored that idea a few times. The earliest attempts felt repetitive for me, so I lost patience with it. I've been grappling with dueling viewpoints in my current projects, but the idea is a lot more integral to those stories than the earlier efforts. I think the bottom line was that, before, it was little more than a prop or a gimmick for me. Now I have a better idea what I can really do with it.

  2. In SAND AND FOG, once he's established the two distinct viewpoints, he starts letting each one move the story forward, so it's not repetitive. For instance, if one character relates the scene in the lawyer's office, the other one can just refer to it after the fact and pick up from there. Also, there are very few scenes yet in which the two characters are in the same place at the same time, though that may escalate as their lives become more and more interconnected.


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