When I started to write my first novel, I chose not to read any books on how to craft fiction. I wanted to test my limits—journey to find if any raw talent lay within me. I discovered as most novices do, that I naturally write from an omniscient viewpoint. As the god of my novel, I created characters whose thoughts and feelings burst randomly as they interacted with each other. Privy to their intimacies, I set the reader in a seat beside me as the action unfolded.
With the completion of my novel, I picked up my first book on editing. To my chagrin, I had made the foremost error a beginning novelist makes—point of view. It has taken months of study and painful critiques to fathom third person limited point of view. But my biggest breakthrough in understanding this preferred method of writing came from the pen of the disciple whom Jesus loved.
John unfolds his gospel with the Author of salvation wrapping Himself in human flesh. Jesus became the Point of View Character—the Protagonist—of God’s story. He experienced the very things He created, through His senses as incarnate man, all the while maintaining his deity. John says that Jesus knew what was in a man. A fact demonstrated by His response to the people around Him.
Even though Jesus, the Author Incarnate, knew the answers, He took great care in how He exposed other’s thoughts and motives. He drew them out by way of questions—causing His listeners to think, reason, and understand. “Do you want to be healed?” “Where are your accusers?” Jesus gave the characters around Him the opportunity to discover, reveal, and respond to their own sentiments. With the Pharisees, He challenged their deceit by covert revelation. “First answer My question, then I will tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Likewise, as I sit down to write I willingly surrender my power of omniscience as the all-knowing author of my story and enter the limited world of ink and paper. As the protagonist of my story, I must take heed of the outward expressions other characters exhibit, carefully draw out their sentiment, and resist the urge to expose their hearts and motives blatantly. Above all I must find a way to reveal the depth of my internal nature. In doing so, I pluck the reader out of the god-view seat beside me and immerse him into my story—for his good pleasure.