Have you ever read a book that was written from the POV of one character, but you imagined what certain scenes or moments or even the whole book must’ve been like from the POV of another character? I guess we all must to a certain extent or we wouldn’t ever empathize with or feel the emotions of other characters when things happen to them. But there was one specific situation in a book that got me thinking about this, so let’s discuss!
As I said, I think we all must do this to a certain extent. It’s why we’re able to feel the emotions of side characters and love interests and anyone who’s not a POV character. And oddly enough, I sometimes find that I feel even more emotion from non-POV characters. Maybe it’s because, when I’m reading about a POV character, especially if it’s 1st person, I’m told, “This is what the character is feeling,” so maybe my brain just doesn’t extrapolate beyond that. Whereas, when there’s a non-POV character, I have to put in the effort to put myself in their shoes and infer all the emotion myself, so my brain extrapolates a whole lot.
But it’s not just that. There was one thing in particular that sparked the idea for this post. I read a lot of urban fantasy, especially about vampires. And you know what vampires do? They kill. In many cases, the reader experiences these scenes from the POV of the vampire. And when we do, we root for them because we know they need blood to live, and we want them to live. But have you ever considered the POV of the person being attacked in those scenes? It would be terrifying. That person was a human being with a life that they probably wanted to continue living. And so in this particular book (which happened to be the second book in the Real Vampires Don’t Sparkle series by Amy Fecteau), the vampire main characters had been attacked and were dying, but one of them managed to feed and carry the other one into a nearby mausoleum since they were in a cemetery. Cops showed up, so the awake vampire went and snatched one for the unconscious vampire. And the poor cop was terrified, tried to fight back, tried to get away, until he was finally knocked unconscious. And even though I understood why the vampire did it, I also really felt for the innocent cop who was attacked and then ended up dead.
I know there are plenty of books in which we do get the POV of the one being attacked (like when the MC fights supernatural creatures), but it’s funny how quickly we forget it and jump to the side of the attacker, all depending on whose POV the scene is being told from. Except, for some reason, I’ve started thinking of the victim’s POV more lately. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still want the vampires or whoever to survive and therefore understand that they need the blood, but it’s still interesting to think about things from another POV. And now that I am thinking about it, I’m starting to wonder if the main difference between urban fantasy and horror in some cases is just the perspective.
Of course this can apply to other situations too. In 27 Hours by Tristina Wright, *SPOILER* I was struck with sadness when the dragon was killed because yeah, it was big and scary and trying to kill the MCs, but it wasn’t the dragon’s fault that it was big and scary and being used for attack. *END SPOILER* And in The Shadow Weave by Annette Marie, *SPOILER* I experienced sadness yet again for a dragon because this one too was attacking the MC’s, but only because they intruded upon its home, and the dragon didn’t know that they didn’t mean to; it was just protecting its home and people. *END SPOILER* In Rises the Night by Colleen Gleason, *MAJOR SPOILER* I figured Max must’ve just been undercover, and so a lot of the emotion I felt while reading that book came just from me imagining how tough that must’ve been for him, what he was going through knowing Victoria and the others thought him a traitor. *END SPOILER*
Anyway, it’s interesting sometimes to try and imagine things from the perspective of characters whose side of things we don’t get to see. And now I’m wondering if anyone else ever considers the POV of other characters in a scene or book like I do.