Points of View Exercise

Describing bowling a cricket ball

First person

I bowl leg breaks. For those who have no idea what that means it works like this, as you let go of the ball you spin it so that it's rotating anti clockwise. When it hits the ground it turns left. It's more subtle than that. When the ball is spinning at any moment one side is going faster than the other and that changes the air pressure around the ball which makes it drift sideways in the air. With a leg break it swerves to the bowler's right and then turns left when it hits the ground.

How much of either of those things happens depend on how I bowl the ball and how fast I spin it. I know what I'm doing but the batsman doesn't. He or she can guess, but if they guess wrong I might get them out. It's not cricket, it's a mind game. That's what I like about bowling leg breaks.

Second Person

You run up toward the bowling crease. You have to keep a game face on, giving nothing away. The batsman mustn't know what you are going to do. Can you do it? can you disguise your intention? You've been bowling for a while now so he must have seen every variation that you have. You know this is a mind game, he knows too. Will this be the leg break or the googly, spun the same way but bowled out of the back of the hand so the spin is reversed. Only you know, unless you give it away.

Third person limited

Running the same five steps, holding the shoulders in the same line, he turns sideways at the last minute, left arm up to aid the swing of the right before the right comes over. Holding his face in the same determined mask his eyes are on the batsman's feet. If those feet start to come forward the arm will come over quicker, launching the ball fast down the leg side with no spin, hoping to pass the bat and get a stumping.

The batsman's knees flex. Is he going forwards or backwards? Damn, he's giving nothing away and then as the right arm comes over the movement starts. He's going back, so toss the ball a little higher aim a little longer so it drifts right and spins left, catching the outside edge of the bat.

From the second the ball is launched it's up to the wicket keeper, will he catch it?

Third person omniscient

Watching the duel is fascinating. The bowler has only his arm and fingers to propel the ball past the bat, hopefully to hit the wickets or touch an edge to give a catch. Training, practice, is important, honing the strength and skill to create the required trajectory. Ultimately the key sense is proprioception, the feed back from the sensors in the muscles and joints that supply information to the nerves and hence to the brain.

Co-ordination comes from proprioception along with practice and memory. As the bowler hits his last stride his eyes follow every ripple of movement from the batsman, marrying up clues in his movement with previous strokes and previous deliveries.

At the other end the batsman is going through the same process, hunting for a sign of which ball is about to arrive. If the two of them could read minds who knows how it would turn out but without that it comes down to bluff and counter bluff, action and reflex reaction. Like any gladiatorial contest every move is a chance to get a jump ahead or to learn how not to make the same mistake again. Every ball is the same, two figures 22 yards apart, short grass, a few white lines and a finite time with the ball in the air; every ball is the same yet no two are the same because the gladiators have learned.

Extending the idea.

It is possible to tell a story from the perspective of inanimate objects. In the above example it could be told by the ball, the pitch, the wickets, the bowlers boots, the bat, the clouds or even the rainstorm that cancelled the match.

Outside the above example there are endless possibilities, a wizard might have an interesting tale to tell, but what if his magic wand told the story?

Whatever point of view is chosen, attached to whatever character or object it is important to stick to a consistent set of rules when using it. Even if you dream up an entirely new way of telling a story it is vital to stick to a consistent set of rules throughout the story. Even if what you are doing is very odd, if you stick with it there is a good chance that a reader will catch on and understand what you are doing. If you change the rules in an inconsistent fashion then the reader will likely get fed up with trying to understand and most likely will decide that you don't know what you are doing and stop reading— and that ends the story.

Rod Griffiths