Earlier this year I posted a Call to Action on my favourite social media site Instagram in order to engage with my followers and get their opinion on Point of View (POV). This is an important feature of writing a book and should be considered carefully because it can really affect the way readers connect with the book. There are also many ways to use POV and people have differing views on how to use them to accentuate their words. It can be confusing and therefore I have complied the answers I was given to help you understand what POV is and how to use it.
This is the Point of View which your book is from and those include first person, second and third person. They all have their benefits but also are negative. First person and Third person are most commonly used, but second person is hard to do correctly so I will not be talking about it here.
First Person: Is written from the view point of only one of the main characters and the plot will only progress as they find out information or witness events. You use words like me, I, we, us and mine. You can use multiple POV's but clearly indicate when you have switched for instance at the beginning of a chapter and only choose a few.
- This is quite natural to do because in real life we use I to reference ourselves
- The reader feels more connected to first narrator characters because they can easily slip into the characters position
- As the reader is with the one character the entire time they develop a deeper connection
- As an author you can explore your characters innermost feelings deeper than in third
- You can create a three dimensional and distinctive voice for your character
- You are restricted to one character
- They character can only see or know what they are present to witness or find out for themselves
- Sometimes it can be to much telling and not enough showing
- You cannot go into the minds of others
Third Person: Is a very popular POV to write in and one which most people are comfortable to write in. It is when you are the omnipotent narrator which tells of all the ongoings of your world and you can go into different characters minds. You have free reign and there are no real rules to this POV. You use the words he, she and they. This has two limbs of use- unlimited omniscience and limited omniscience.
This is when the narrator enters the mind of multiple characters in one scene or chapter in order to gain differing viewpoints on a certain situation. An example of this is Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.
This is where the narrator enters the minds of only a few characters throughout the entire book. It follows the journey of one character but gives the writer the scope add in things the character wouldn't know. An example of this is Sarah J. Maas Throne of Glass.
"I prefer the third person POV; it gives me a chance to develop each character on a more "personal" level. I get to give little insights to their thoughts and emotions as they interact. I think the most important rule (with any POV) is to stick to it. If you start a story in 1st or 3rd person, finish it from that perspective. Other than that- have fun!"
"I find third person more personal that first because I like to delve into all of my characters' minds, not just one. I see all my characters -good or bad- as my children, and so I hate to leave any of them out. Unless, I need to add an air of mystery about them. In which case, I present their words and actions with little description as to their driving force."
"It really depends on what you're doing. If you switch POV's then it should be in third person, because if it's in first person and switching points of view, it could get really confusing trying to figure out whose point of view it is despite it saying at the beginning of the chapters. This is because most of the time the reader is too into the stroy to pay attention (me, while reading Allegiant). On the other hand, if it's only one character you're going to be following, then I personally prefer first person because I feel pronounds and names are used to much. Also, with using first person, it's a more intimate way of getting to know the protagonist becuase it's them telling the story."
"With a mystery theme, it feels like I can give a better feeling of the story and pacing with 3rd person and I can bounce back and forth between hero and villain... Sometimes you just have to sit and write and see where the words fall. I'm not big with planning when it comes to my writing. I just sit and and, it's in the editing that I get all the kinks worked out. I have turned many times to my favourite books for guidance...
"Often when I feel that my writing is "off" and I struggle with understanding it, trying a different POV can give a new angle to approach the story. I've found that most of the time I make decisions intuitively... 1st person narration can be unreliable, but that is the beauty of it- the reader really gets to see things from the character's point of view, including the lies the character tells themselves and others.... so, I'd say that 1st person works best when you want your characters to be seen in a certain way (to help with a plot point or explain your main character's behaviour) and 3rd when you also want to show your characters the way they see themselves."
"I find reading a book in first person I start to feel a bit claustrophobic, or like it's difficult to get perspective on the story because I am stuck in just one persons head. They are usually telling me their own experience of what's happening, rather than letting me see for myself (so telling rather than showing). But in many cases it may just depend on how it's delivered and every story is different. It just depends on which way will deliver the most compelling version. I've definitely used both in my writing and enjoyed books that use both."
"It depends on the story. I prefer writing third person because that is what I am used to. There are no rules really except to remember tenses. First person is hard to write and get into the characters over all.
"With third person, I think the distance you may feel can be shortened through the character's portrayal. It's a great time ti sharpen your skills on evoking emotion toward your characters through your writing. You may not get the insider's view of all the character's decisions, but that allows you to get to know them like a real person. It causes the reader to think about the character because of what they don't know.
First person is great for big plot twists or teach life lessons. You really need to focus on secondary characters in addition to your first becuase they are the eyes and ears of everything else in the story. You need some fabulous supporting roles to hep your MC along. It is a bit of a balancing act between offering a wider perspective through other characters and circumstances and broadening the MC's own experience.
I really hope you enjoyed this post and I know that I enjoyed talking with all these people about POV. They give valuable insight and I hope you have learnt a bit more about this topic. Feel free to add these wonderful ladies on instagram and communicate with them! Let me know in the comments below or on social media what you think about what was said here.