Hi SErs! Harmony here 🙂 Today, I’d like to talk about how to write Point of View (POV) and how to choose which POV to adopt.
As you have seen, each POV choice comes with its pros and cons. Sometimes, the POV choice feels obvious. At other times, we have to make a deliberate choice. So, what do we look for in POV choice?
It’s All a Matter of Perspective …
So how do you choose among first person, close third person, and distant third? Your choice will depend on the total effect you want your story to have. Some guidelines:
- If you want to write the entire story in individual, quirky language, choose first person.
- If you want your POV character to indulge in lengthy ruminations, choose first person.
- If you want your reader to feel high identification with your POV character, choose first person or close third.
- If you want to describe your character from the outside as well as give her thoughts, choose either close or distant third person.
- If you want to intersperse the author’s opinions with the character’s, choose distant third.
- If you want low identification between reader and character, perhaps because you’re going to make a fool of your character, choose distant third.
Isn’t it nice to have so many choices? So before you write more than a few sentences of that exciting new story idea, take a few minutes to ensure you’ve chosen the best POV to maximize its impact.
Taken from 6 Tips to Choosing the Right Point of View
It used to be said that a certain genre calls for a certain POV. These days, the same cannot be said. Many times recently, I have seen a reviewer mention they’re used to X POV for a psychological thriller, for example, but their latest read was done well in a different POV. I’m not sure there have ever been set-in-stone rules about POV specific to genre, just industry norms. Personally, I believe we get the best results from our writing by listening to what perspective our story is asking for. And our story does ask. Sometimes it screams at us from the rooftop. At others, the voice is no louder than a sinister dream whisper in the night.
One way I can tell if I’m using the wrong lens for my story is if I inadvertently keep changing POV. The same with my chosen tense. This flitting back and forth is a sure sign something isn’t right.
It’s Okay to Change Your Mind:
- Before you begin, think bout what effect you’re aiming for.
- If, when you’ve written a fair bit of your novel, something doesn’t feel right, rewrite a paragraph or chapter in an alternative POV … does that feel better or worse?
- Go on your gut instinct. There are no hard-and-fast rules here.
- Some stories and characters call for different POVs. That’s perfectly fine. Just make sure you avoid head hopping and that you show each shift clearly to avoid confusing your reader. Remember to keep it subtle and unobtrusive … unless that’s what you’re aiming for!
Point of View is the eye or lens through which you tell your story.
First Person uses the pronouns I, We, Me, and Us, and is up close and personal.
Second Person is rarely, if ever, used. The pronoun You is used.
Third Person can be Distant or Close (Omniscient or Limited) and uses the pronouns He, She, Her, His, and They, and creates more distance.
- How many characters do you need to tell your story?
- How close or distant do you want your readers from your character(s)?
- Who would have the most interesting or appealing narrative voice?
In Summary: There are no rules as to which POV you use. Your choice comes down to intention and preference, as well as the kind of story you wish to tell. Whether or not you need an unreliable narrator will also affect your choice (more on that in January!) Remember: You can do anything you want, as long as you do it well.
That’s it from me today. I hope you’ve found this post useful. I’ll see you again on Friday 31st December for our New Year post! Then again on Monday 24th January, 2022, when we’ll take a look at The Unreliable Narrator and POV 🙂
Part 1, Overview, can be found HERE.
Part 2, First Person, can be found HERE.
Part 3, Second Person, can be found HERE.
Part 4, Third Person Limited, can be found HERE.
Part 5, Third Person Distant, can be found HERE.
Part 6, Common Pitfalls of POV, can be found HERE.
Part 7, How to Choose POV, can be found HERE.
©2021 Harmony Kent