Sunday, May 27, 2012

POV & Star Wars - Making Sense of Who's Saying What

NOTE: I have an assignment for authors who are reading this at the end of the post if you want to practice, so make sure to read all the way to the end.

To help explain Point of View (POV), I'm posting three scenes from Star Wars. I chose Star Wars because the franchise contains dozens, if not hundreds, of POV characters and is famous for scene changes (in fact, Lucas specifically tailors his environments to be starkly different from one another: Dry and desert-covered Tattooine, lush and radiant Naboo, cold and industrial Coruscant, the rainy water world of Kamino, the cold and snow-covered Hoth, etc.)

Scene changes not only take us to a different location within a movie (and the location could be another planet, another country, another state, or simply another room in the house), they also denote - yes - POV changes (or chapter changes, which are usually POV changes, too). What better way to start out a conversation about POV than to show you how POV is handled in a movie, because really, as an author, my job is to create moving pictures with words. Consequently, dissecting a movie into POV is an excellent way to demonstrate this concept.

If you don't have time to watch all three links posted below, just pick one and do the following. If you can watch all three, though, it will give you more practice in identifying POV.

While you watch the video links, I want you to do the following:

  1. Identify the scene changes (when they cut from the Gungan battle with the droid army in the countryside to the Jedi and Queen Amidala in the city, that's a scene change).
  2. Determine in each scene change which character's POV would work best to describe the action in that scene. For example, when the scene involves the Emperor and the Viceroy, the Emperor's POV is likely to be the better character to speak from, or the primary.
  3. Think about how the primary character would perceive the action of the scene. What is the character seeing, hearing, feeling, thinking, etc.?
  4. Okay, now switch to another character's POV in that scene. For example, if you chose the Emperor in the previous step, look at the scene from the Viceroy's POV. What is the Viceroy seeing, hearing, feeling, thinking, etc.?

To summarize:

  1. Identify the scene changes
  2. Determine each scene's primary POV character
  3. See the scene from that character's perspective
  4. Change to another character's perspective in that same scene (some scenes contain several characters, so you can pick any or all) and consider how each would perceive the scene

Star Wars - Phantom Menace End Battle

Star Wars - Attack of the Clones Battle Scene

Star Wars - Phantom Menace Opening Scenes
Added bonus with this link regarding story structure:
Consider the rolling text at the beginning of this scene as the story's prologue. A prologue is defined as something that is not critical to the story, but which adds extra information. The story can exist without the prologue, but those who read the prologue are able to get more out of the story. This is why nothing critical should go in your prologue. Information necessary to the main story MUST be included in the story, because, like it or not, a lot of people do NOT read prologues. I used to be one of them. I always read prologues, now, but I used to skip right over them.

I'm not done discussing POV. But I think this is enough for today. I just wanted to get you all looking through different characters' eyes. POV is a tricky concept for soooo many authors (it took me years to finally master it), so I will continue to talk about it in my writing tips, hitting it from many different angles. This is definitely one of those areas that, the more you practice it, the easier it will become.


  1. Pick a scene from one of the links and write it from the POV of the primary character.
  2. Now, write that same scene from the POV from one of the other characters in the scene.
  3. How does each character perceive the scene?

Extra Credit
Look through all the pictures I've posted above and below of several of the characters in the Star Wars movies. How would each character view the scene you selected? Additionally, how would young Obiwan and young Anakin view their surroundings as opposed to older Obiwan and older Anakin? What drives the characters to feel the way they do and react differently from one another?

Feel free to email your results to me at and I might highlight you in a future post. :) And I will definitely try to provide feedback on each one as time allows.

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