We’re talking about the lenses within the POV lens that Jeannie Lin and I teach in our Worldbuilding workshop.
This is post #2, so just a quick catch up, the premise:
REMINDER: This is a super-general, high-level view 😉
Native is by far the most straight forward of the sub-lenses, although, of course, there are exceptions. If you think of one, share it in the comments – people LOVE exceptions. But let’s also remember the old saying “Exceptions prove the rule.”
The Native. She’s someone who was probably born in the world. Maybe she came to the world so young that it’s all she remembers.
Because of this, the rules, norms, rituals, and cultural definitions are so ingrained in her as to be mostly invisible to her consciously. If you sat down and asked her why she does/believes something, the answer would either be a confused “because that’s how it’s done” or a long-winded explanation of years of history that makes the minutia make sense.
Why doesn’t your family like Bob’s?
Oh, we never have. There was a fight generations ago.
Ummmm…. (proceeds to either not know or have an answer that has become near legend.)
Often these cultural norms are small things. When home visiting my family the world would end if I didn’t let the car across from us at the light who wanted to turn left go first. Get back to Boston and you’d think from the reaction of the cars behind me that the world would end if I did let the car go first.
Small examples, but you get the point. The character doesn’t think, “I’m currently in this part of the country and there are four cars behind me and six cars across from me, one of which wants to turn and he’s in the front….the culturally accepted move on my part is to XXX.” They just do or don’t do it based on the ingrained norm.
Now, you’re thinking But…But…But…
And, I hear you. I’m there with you.
What about the Native who is an outsider in his own land.
We tell A LOT of stories about the outsiders, don’t we?
This character is a very interesting sub-lens for a bunch of reasons.
First off, they probably question a lot of the norms, bringing them to the consciousness of others (or not, depending on your conflict).
There’s so much great play in this:
- Does the hero see his own foibles?
- Does he view the entire culture clearly?
- Is he “correct” in his views?
- Does he pick and choose what is right and what isn’t?
- When challenged by insiders how does he react?
- What about challenged by outsiders?
- Is he looking to escape or change his world?
- Is he a savior or maybe a “savior” for his people?
The list goes on.
What does this all mean for the reader?
The reader is viewing the world through the character viewing the world. This gives us the opportunity to see it clearly through mirroring or foiling the viewpoint…or through an unreliable narrator.
How we view the world is through the eyes of the POV character(s). So, understanding their lean as a Native means we are more strongly set in the foundation of the world–it gives us our view, our understanding.
And so, understanding how a Native would see (or miss) things as a fully-ingrained character or outsider, allows us to build a layer for the readers to more easily fall into the expected and unexpected world.
Next step is to utilize this.
Looking at your character, ask yourself where their lens can create harmony or conflict. If their status as a Native isn’t doing both of those at different points in the book, then you should step back and rework some of that. A whole person only sees through their lens. So, a whole character only sees (and thus behaves) based on their lens.
Next up, The Transplant!