Chose the best POV for your story

Point of View

There are four main points of view when it comes to writing fiction: first person (I, Me, We), the rarely used second person (You), third person limited and third person omniscient (He, She, They).

     The point of view through which your story will be told will depend largely on a couple of things, such as, the type of story you want to tell and who will be telling it.

     Each point of view will give your narrator a distinctive voice, so it is important to think about whether or not your story works in the one you have chosen.

First Person
Writing in the first person, for some, feels easy and natural because we speak in I, Me, and We.

     By using first person, you are able to help the reader to connect more easily to the character because while they are reading the story, they imagine themselves in that role.

     A disadvantage of using this point of view is that the main character or narrator can only speak to events they have witnessed or have been told about previously. If they were not ‘on stage’ so to speak for a major event, how would they be able to relay to the reader that it had happened?

     Another drawback is that it is harder for the main character or narrator to describe themselves. After all, it would be a little contrived to have them stand in front of a mirror and tell the reader what they look, like unless of course there is a specific reason for doing so in your story.

Second Person
Second person narration is when the main character is ‘you’ as in ‘you run out down the stairs and out of the door, and realise that you have forgotten to brush your teeth.’

     This point of view is rarely used because telling a compelling story this way can be extremely difficult, though not impossible as it has been done.

     Using second person narration does give you the option of being different, however, but be aware that it can be jarring to the reader, who is essentially at least on some level, being told that they are doing this or that. It can be enough to pull a reader so far away from the story that they decide to stop reading.

Third Person Limited
This is probably the most common point of view from which stories are written. Third person narrative uses He, She, They and character names with the narrator being outside the story looking in. The limited part is in relation to what the narrator has access to in regards to the characters.

     In third person limited, only the thoughts, emotions and experiences of the main character are known to the narrator. Just as in first person, the main character or narrator cannot know about events that they were not present for.

Third Person Omniscient
Third person omniscient has all the hallmarks of third person limited, except, instead of knowing only what the main character knows or experiences, this narrator has access to everything. Think of the omniscient narrator as being an all-knowing deity who can know and see everything.

     The omniscient narrator can see inside the minds of each and every character and know what they feel and what they want.

     The only problem in writing from this point of view is that it can be very easy to ‘head-hop’, that is to jump around too quickly from the mind of one character to the next without allowing the reader time to catch up.

     An excellent way to avoid head-hopping is to wait until the end of a scene or a chapter before switching characters, and when you do, begin the scene with a line that will suggest to the reader whose head they are in.

As always, thank you very much for reading, I am grateful for your time.

Until next time,

George

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3 comments

  1. Hi! Nice post, George! 🙂 One interesting way of circumventing the first disadvantage of first-person narration is found in Gene Wolfe’s The Wizard Knight – the main character is essentially writing down the story after it has all happened, which allows credible knowledge of things he wasn’t there for, so to speak! Though, frankly, it works a bit better in the first half…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Third Person Omniscient is fun and for me a natural way of writing but as you said, head hopping can be a problem. You gave excellent advice where you mentioned to wait for the chapter to end. One of the fun reasons to write in first person is presenting to the reader the unreliable narrator. If the reader understands this it can go a long ways in terms of success. The writer can delve deep inside the mind of the protagonist seeing their world in one direction.

    Good stuff. Thanks!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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