When writing a novel there’s a universal question that most writers grapple with – how do you choose which Point of View to use? Point of view is the way the author allows you to “see” and “hear” what’s going on. There are several different points of view available to you and each one has several pros and cons. You must consider how the point of view you choose will impact the story you are trying to tell.
FIRST PERSON POV: When you tell a story through a viewpoint character using I or we. First person POV refers to the I, we, me, my, mine, us narrator, and is often the voice of the heroic character or a constant companion of the heroic character. Every detail of your story must be filtered through the storyteller. It is usually your main character. If your main character cannot see, hear, touch, smell, taste, think, know or feel it, you can’t include it. So, if you want to introduce something outside the range of your main character, you must use the words or observed actions of some other character who is in a position to see or know the events in order to convey the information you want the reader to have. Remember that the POV character cannot know the thoughts or unspoken feelings of another character.
- It’s Easier to feel empathy for the character since you are spending so much time in their brain
- It can give logic and motivations to characters that would seem otherwise evil, immoral, or otherwise not relatable.
- It more easily fleshes a character on the page by allowing the audience to listen to their voice for long periods of time.
- You are limited to writing about what the narrator can see or sense.
- The narrator must constantly be on stage or observing the stage.
- You can’t go into the minds of other characters.
SECOND PERSON POV: Where the author uses you and your – it is rare. Authors seldom speak directly to the reader. When you encounter this point of view you should pay attention. The author has made a daring choice, probably with a specific purpose in mind. Most times, second person point of view draws the reader into the story, almost making the reader a participant in the action.
- The reader can feel more intimately connected and involved with the story.
- It gives you the power to be different, even eccentric in the way you can speak to the reader so directly.
- It gives life to the characters in a way that other viewpoints don’t.
- It begins to feel quirky, whether you’re reading it or writing it.
- Novels solely written in second person make it more of a possibility that the reader may feel disconnected from the story.
THIRD PERSON POV: The he, she, it, they, them narrator, third person is the most common POV in fiction. It offers a variety of possibilities for limiting omniscience: information that the narrator and reader are privy to in the telling of the story.
- In omniscient mode, the narrator is all knowing and can move to anywhere in the story world.
- The narrator can also tell the reader things the main character doesn’t know, creating dramatic irony.
- Provides a broad perspective on the story, which is useful for epics involving many plotlines.
- Far less intimacy between reader and main character. The reader feels as though he is looking at characters rather than being a character.
- Narrator is reliable (this could also be seen as a pro).
- You can confuse yourself and the reader unless every voice is distinctive.
My urban fantasy books from The Dragomeir Series were written in first person. They are all from the main character Tanis’s point of view. Not knowing any more than Tanis did from moment to moment was used as a means by which to increase the potential bond between him and the reader. The reader goes where Tanis goes, sees what he sees, and has to catch up on events when he returns to a person or place. I wanted the reader to use Tanis’s ability to understand people and to figure out friend or foe, good and bad, but to ultimately do it together. I felt the books needed to be a more personal, casual account of what was happening to have a better shot at complete immersion with the story as it unfolds. I hope you enjoy reading the Dragomeir Series as much as I did writing it.
THE DRAGOMEIR SERIES –
- “The Emerald Dragon”
- “Flight of the Aguiva”
- And coming soon – “Egg of the Amphitere”
Solitaire . . .
What Point of View do you use and why?