Hey party people,
Point of view…oh boy.
I have a love/hate relationship with this aspect of writing. Sometimes, I start a story and I just know who needs to tell it. Other times (let’s be real, most times), this is not the case. I flip between various persons and it makes the whole writing process quite frustrating.
So, in today’s post, allow me to give you some advice when it comes to picking a point of view that is perfect for your story.
Quick refresher of the options available:
Everything experienced in the story (what is seen, explained, felt, heard, interpreted) is through one character’s perspective. Told the same way you would tell a story about yourself (I, me, my, we, us, etc.) which is why it is seen as one of the easier forms to write. First person is often very intimate because of the direct access readers have to the narrator’s head––forming a bond between the two is made easier.
However, this option is limited when it comes to storytelling. Your narrator has to be “on stage” for the pivotal events of the novel. Everything that happens is seen through their eyes, it is shaped by their background, desires, biases, interpretation, etc.
Telling a story by talking directly to the reader. You do this….This is your brother….You get the picture (see what I did there?).
Not common in fiction writing. As a general rule don’t use second person. Unless this is going to be a specific choice for the overall message/tone/impact of your novel, this one is usually best left alone.
Third Person Limited
This is a lot like first person, but instead of using “I” words, you would use “he, she, they” pronouns.
The narrator knows the thoughts of only one character, but being that the narrator is a separate entity there is some distance between the two. This allows more room for reader interpretation, but can also take away that intimacy gained from first person.
Third Person Omniscient
The narrator is basically God. It knows the thoughts of every character and can tell the story from any of their eyes. Can be incredibly freeing for the author because of all the possibilities for storytelling; however, this does often widen that gap between character and reader even further.
So, how do you know what POV fits your story best? Keeping in mind the pros and cons of each option, it’s important to ask yourself some questions. Your answers should point you towards the best point of view for you.
There are plenty of other questions worth asking yourself so don’t limit yourself to these if they aren’t working for you, but these are the ones that have proved most beneficial to me.
- Who is this story about/What is the heart of your story? What character has the most at stake? Are multiple stories being weaved? Do the characters involved live in different areas/have their own very separate storylines integral to the plot? Are various lenses necessary?
- How important is the intimacy between reader and character? Will this story be better told if readers are given the chance to strongly identify with a certain character? Will the story be told best by incorporating many different viewpoints from a distance?
- How does the lens being used affect your story? Is the narrator unreliable? Does the narrator’s insight, or lack thereof, propel the story and character development forward?
Okay, if you still have no idea what POV to use then experiment! Try writing a few scenes with different points of view and see what feels best. In the end, go with your gut! After all, this is your story. Tell it how you want.
Also, get excited because next week we’re talking about NaNoWriMo XD