Point of View Reversed

Pansy Backview

My son had a school project to photograph images for his language arts class. There was no requirement about what the images might be or that they connect in any way. Since his school is close to the university campus, he often walks to my office after the dismissal bell. Today, as he ventured across campus, heavy backpack in tow, he shot images for his class project. While uploading his pictures to his school email address I found the pansy reversed image. I say reversed because, in all of my views of a pansy (my favorite flower since age 6), I have never looked at the backside. The faces always drew my attention.

My son captured the pansy from another point of view.

In writing and in life, our point of view is often more fixed than we would believe. If questioned about a pansy, I could recite the color combinations, arrogantly explain that a petite pansy isn’t a pansy but a viola. I could tell you the bloom season, when they go dormant, and why leaving them throughout the summer expecting another bloom come fall may disappoint. I would not tell you that when you looked at the pansy from behind that you would find the green star, one of nature’s most abundant shapes (the pentagram) also found in a halved apple, a starfish, a morning glory. The list is exhaustive.

I’m entering the fourth radical revision to my novel of ten years, BECOMING GENEVIEVE. Here’s what I’ve learned by observing the backside of my son’s yellow pansy.

  • My view is only half (if that much) of the total image of a character or scene
  • Using a simple form of contrast — yellow and green backside compared to the glorious mix of colors on the frontside — might create a simplified focus that could benefit my novel
  • I might consider the inverse of any character’s motivation to better understand the complexities of the human spirit:
    • The inverse of the pansy allows the viewer to see the veins
    • Assessing the point of view from the front side of the pansy gives the viewer a splash of color, a happy face
    • Even though the veins are absolutely essential, unless I’m looking at the flipside I don’t see the veins or probe their true nature
    • The flipside may represent the 90% of a character that does not appear in the novel

As I return to my novel, I will keep the image of the pansy reverse view on my desktop to remind me to shift my point of view, expand it, and flip it over to find the soul of my characters.

Like the pansy’s sunny face the essence of my characters lies within the veins.


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