Understand Your Character’s Obsession

Bret Anthony Johnston

Fiction writers: How well do you know your protagonist? While you may have learned the basics of point of view, and can tell the story from your protagonist’s perspective, how does your protagonist see the events and details of the world around him?

Bret Anthony Johnston suggests, “Point-of-view is defined by obsession.” He writes in the latest Glimmer Train bulletin:

What do a narrator’s choices betray about the narrator’s head and heart, history and preoccupations, fears and desires? … Every detail confirms the POV character’s conscious and subconscious priorities. Our brains run on about 12 watts of power, which isn’t much at all, so to conserve energy, they’ve evolved to only process one thing at a time. Through a totally interesting concept called “inattentional blindness,” we filter out nonessential information while amplifying and concentrating on the stimuli that seems most crucial. This is point-of-view in its purest form.

Read more from Johnston, and try a writing exercise based on this principle.

To read more in the latest bulletin:


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