The perspective you adopt when writing a book is very important, as it colours everything that the reader finds out – the perspective (or viewpoint), of the character you’ve chosen, gives the reader all their information about what is happening, as the reader sees and learns usually only from the point of view of that one character. It might be the protagonist or the antagonist (or it might change throughout the book) but, in most cases, whether you’re writing in the first or the third person, you have a reasonably fixed perspective.
However, perspective has more than one meaning. The Oxford Learners Dictionaries defines it as either ‘a particular attitude towards something’ (as in the perspective you adopt when writing), or, alternatively, ‘the art of creating an effect of depth and distance in a picture by representing people and things that are far away as being smaller than those that are nearer the front’. I now know that this is the type of perspective to keep in mind, when buying things online!
I always look very carefully when buying things, to make sure that I know what I’m getting, and to be sure that whatever I’m buying sending away for will arrive in the right size. This is pretty straight forward with clothes – it’s either the right dress size or it’s not. With other items, though, it can be trickier, and it’s far too easy to get things wrong when you’re looking at a screen rather than standing in a shop. I learnt this the hard way, when I self-published my first children’s book and started doing school visits.
As the book was called ‘The Secret of the Wooden Chest’, I thought that it would be a nice touch to carry all my pens, bookmarks, etc., into the classroom, not in a boring old bag, but in a wooden chest similar to the one in the book. I had a look around some local shops with no luck, and so, being a modern girl, I looked online.
I soon came across something that looked ideal – certainly wooden, and not too fancy but not too rustic either. There was some small print underneath the picture, but I skipped over that bit and clicked ‘Buy’.
From my seat in the kitchen, a few days later, I heard a thump – the postman was pushing a parcel through the letter box. I was mystified. I hadn’t ordered any books or DVDs lately, had I? There was the wooden chest of course, but there was no way that would go through the letter box. Whatever could it be?
I trotted into the hall and picked up a tiny package, carrying it back to the kitchen where the dog’s eager nose waited, keen to suck in all the available information about the person who had wrapped up this mysterious item. I found the scissors, and, with the dog’s whiskers quivering dangerously close, I started to cut the tape and unwrap it. It would have been a tricky job, even without the dog’s help. The person who had wrapped it (who the dog had now identified as a fifty year old male, brought up as an only child in Basingstoke, but now living with his girlfriend in a two-bedroomed flat in Bristol), had done a thorough job, and it was several minutes before the final piece of paper fell away. The dog snatched the wrapping up and carried it away in triumph to his blanket, for further examination. I was left with the parcel’s contents.
To call it a wooden chest would have been overly generous – it was everything I needed a wooden chest to be – but in miniature! If I placed it next to a doll from my children’s doll’s house, it looked about the right size for storing blankets, or possibly for actually hiding in. If I put it next to a medium-sized teddy bear, it looked about the right size for carrying books and papers to school, but if I looked at it from my own perspective (that of an average-sized human being), it was fine to hold a paperclip – or maybe even two paperclips – but that was about it. It was about an inch high and clearly designed to be used as some kind of presentation box for jewellery. If I’d wanted to put a ring into it, it would have been fine; a necklace – maybe; but a pen, a pencil, a pack of bookmarks, a paperback book and a page of densely written notes – definitely not! I went back to the laptop and checked the details of the item I’d ordered. There were the measurements in black and white – I just hadn’t read them.
After more searching (and careful reading of the small print), I finally found a wooden chest that I thought would do the job I intended it for, and before long the postman was driving the dog into a frenzy by ringing the front door bell, thankfully unable to force this new delivery through the letterbox. But the whole experience did make me think – whether you’re writing or ordering things online, get your perspective right, or, at the very least – double check the measurements!