On our neighborhood blog, someone posted a picture of her SUV, after a black bear spent an hour or three working on the passenger side door to find what might food have been left inside. The newly redesigned vehicle sported a ripped-out gasket along the door frame, a bent sideview mirror, and several scrapes and gouges and dents on the door and its handle. Yes, bears know where the handles are, and they know how the handles work. This SUV was locked, so the bear didn’t get in, but—
No, the neighbor wasn’t dumb enough to leave food or food wrappers in the car overnight. But: she’d gone out for take-out the previous evening, and the lingering scent of burgers and fries was enough to convince a bear or two, or more, that the SUV was a food locker that needed breaking into. And she doesn’t have a garage, so her vehicle sits in the yard all night, next to the front porch.
It’s November, so bears and other hibernating critters are hell-bent on stocking up on carbs and proteins and fats before heading into their dens for that long, cold sleep. Honeycomb in the beehives, sunflower seeds in the bird feeders, cat kibble left on the deck for the outdoor kitties—it’s all food for bears.
And there’s the hook for a new story, I think. Seeing things from the bear’s perspective. POV (point of view) in a story can be tricky. By writing in first person, the writer restricts herself to seeing only through that character’s eyes, showing the readers only what that person sees. Write in third-person omniscient, and the reader may end up knowing far more than the protagonist, and then the writer risks losing that reader-character empathy that we all (most of us) generally strive for. (Writing in second-person, “You,” is very tricky! I avoid it, because it sounds like preaching. Heaven forbid I sound like a preacher.)
So what’s left? Third-person “close” POV works well for me. In this, I can get inside one character’s head to channel thoughts and emotions, yet still remaining a (hopefully) astute observer.
Now for the bears. Without heading into Pooh-territory, without falling down the sentimental anthropomorphism rabbit-hole, how can we write of the perceptions, motivations, and actions of a black bear approaching an SUV that smells of hamburgers and french fries, here in western North Carolina in November?
Food for thought, no pun intended.