Blog: Ah-Ha – A Study in POV

Ah-Ha – Take On Me video: A Study in POV

I previously blogged on the Ah-Ha video “Take on Me” in June. You can link to it HERE.

As mentioned, the story presented in the video resounds in me decades later. I use it for my “wake-up” alarm to go to work, encouraging me to take on the world and make a difference.

One of the interesting things about the video is the switching point of views (POVs) for the story. If you have been having problems picturing the differences between first and third POV, dissecting this video may help.

The opening starts with close first-person POV of the heroine. We glimpse her world in the diner, her reading the story for escape from the ho-hum, and her reaction to the hero breaking the fourth wall of the comic to invite her into his world. We see them fall in love. We don’t know why the male choose her or how he had the ability to reach out. That information is not available for her POV; at this point the story has all been about her and what she can see.

Now we switch to third-person omniscient. We return to the real world for a few minutes. The waitress discovers she has been left without the check paid. We see her react but don’t really identify with her as a person – only as a role. Omniscient has that effect; seeing the whole world keeps one from being emotionally drawn in. Next the third-person switches to the other drivers noticing the intruder to their world. The omniscient lets the viewer know what is happening and why, but not necessarily what the main characters are experiencing emotionally.

Initially the POV seems to have returned to the heroine, but it doesn’t actually. The running away, the music being played, etc. could be either first-person or close third-person. But then the hero saves the woman by returning her to the real-world. If we were in first-person heroine, we would not know he turned around to face the bad guys. This one panel lets us know what POV we are in. The switch to close third-person allowed us to know what is happening with both the main characters. The editor in me doesn’t like the amorphous POV at this point – it works for the video but if I ran into it in a story, I would ask the writer to more clearly define the POV. No head-hopping!

Back in the real-world we return to the woman’s first-person POV for the third-act of the story. We see the looming diner population, experience the fear and uncertainty overwhelming our heroine, and initiate the immediate reactions of rescuing the comic and running for her life. For a few seconds the video totally grabs and pulls a watcher in just like the black&white-sketch hand did with our heroine at the beginning of the video.

At her house, the pounding heart slows as she smooths the paper … and finds him dead. Her POV continues when she hears the crash and sees her hero throw himself out of his world into hers.

Would the story have worked if it remained 100% first person or third person? How would the story have changed without viewing the waitress’ actions or the male turning around after our main POV character left?

WRITING EXERCISE: For your present WIP, think about how you have used POV. Have you been consistent in usage? Would letting the reader know the antagonists actions help the story or decease surprises later on?

READING EXERCISE: Think about your most recent read. Was the POV consistent? Was there anyone else in the story you could have “followed” through POV and still have seen most of the story?