Four Points of View in Every Story

There are four essential points of view in every fully developed story.  They are the Main Character, the Influence Character (AKA the Obstacle Character), the Subjective Story, and the Objective Story.

The Objective story is the most familiar to audiences/readers for it is the view from the outside looking in, like that of a general on a hill watching a battle down below.  It is often thought to be the story’s plot, but in fact it the the objective (or must structural) view of characters, theme, and genre as well.

The Main Character is not necessarily the protagonist.  While the protagonist is the character leading the charge to accomplish the story goal, the Main Character represents the audience position in the story – it allows the audience to step into the shoes of the pivotal character to experience the story first hand and much more passionate in its danger and immediacy than the view of the general on the hill.

The third point of view is that of the Influence Character who represents a different philosophy, outlook, or moral code than the Main Character.  Just as in our own minds we balance who we are against who we might become if we change our outlook on a particular issue, so too the Story Mind struggles with this conflict of ideals which is made tangible in the structure of the Main and Influence characters.

Finally, we consider the nature of that struggle itself – the personal passionate skirmish between one world view or paradigm for living and its opposite.  This is the subjective story and it is where the story’s message or moral resides.

The Main Character, because of its first hand view is the “I” perspective.  The Influence Character whose view we might adopt is “You” for we have not yet become that person or shared its view.  The struggle between us, between who we are and who we might become (philosophically) is “We.”  And the general on the hill and all the other soldiers on the field who are not involved in our personal philosophic skirmish are seen as”They” – as if from the general’s “objective” eye.

Taken together, all four view provide the essential minimum parallax on the story’s issues so that they are fully examined from all crucial angles, leaving no whole in the story’s argument and no stone unturned in consideration of the central issues.