Writing Assignment: Describe A View From A Height

by Randy Murray on January 28, 2011

Perspective is a tricky thing. Point of view (POV) is what you can see, but perspective is about what you think and believes. But it can also include POV. A camera can show you POV, but only a mind can provide perspective. It’s tricky stuff.

To capture your own perspective or to create one for a character you, the writer, must understand the individual elements that create that perspective. What are the facts? What do you see and from what direction, elevation, and orientation? To what degree do mood, temperament, and preceding events affect this state of mind? What are all of the things that, together, build up to a perspective, if only for that moment?

Perspective needn’t be difficult to write about. Simply examine your current thoughts and write them down. Examine them if you like. Just take the temperature of your temperament, along with a few other readings, and form a picture, a three- dimensional one.

For more detail on perspective, see Perspective, Opinion, and Point Of View — Distinctions That Matter To Writers And Readers

For today’s assignment, write a description of something you can view from a height (POV), but include how that view affects you at the moment. Base your example on direct observation, not memory. It can be what you see from your window, or just the difference between sitting and standing. Use this opportunity to describe not just what you see, but how your understanding of what you see changes when your POV changes.

Here’s my example:

It’s better when I look down. Looking up, it’s just that uniformly gray Ohio sky. I don’t usually mind being trapped in this January snow globe, but seeing a patch of blue now and then might make the cold and damp inside here a bit more bearable.

But looking down from my upstairs window, at least that’s interesting. The rain and freezing drizzle melted holes in the cover of white. From up here, the back yard appears as a partially assembled puzzle. When I stood on the patio below only a few minutes ago it was just a muddy red blotch. Now, it’s a counterpoint to the broken white and dappled brown and muted green of the winter lawn.

Tomorrow’s inch of promised snow should complete the puzzle once again. Shake that globe, return to gray above, white below.

The neighbor kids have left a neon orange sled out in their back yard, but it’s upside down, a bunker, not a transport. There’s a red one too, and it’s perched on the edge of the slight rise beside their pool, ready to rocket down the incline and out the gate.

I see that the broken white patchwork below also reveals where the stubborn oaks have finally dropped the last of their leaves. But there’s no point in raking them. I’d have to shovel first. Tomorrow’s flurries should hide them away for a bit longer. They can wait until spring, or beyond, for all I care.

What else? That head of kale on the edge of the patio looks the worse for wear. I should probably toss it in the mulch pile, but there’s still more purple than brown in it, though from above it’s hard to tell the difference. It can wait a few more weeks along with the leaves.

Up here, in my office, it’s not so gray.  It’s warm and it’s dry. But working today seems as difficult as shoveling. So I’ll stand here, at the window, and contemplate the winter a bit longer.

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The Writing Assignment: Describe A View From A Height by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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