Today, we’re going to talk about point of view. Then we’re going to be getting into first, second, and third person and we’ll wrap it all up with how to write internal monologues for our characters. This post is going to be more of an overview of what POV is and why it’s important. We’ll get into the meat of the three different types more thoroughly in separate posts.
Let’s start off with that definition:
Point of View: is the angle of considering things, which shows us the opinion or feelings of the individuals involved in a situation. In literature, point of view is the mode of narration that an author employs to let the readers “hear” and “see” what takes place in a story, poem, or essay. Point of view is also a reflection of the opinion an individual from real life or fiction has.
Point of view is crucial to your story. It is how you present your story, ideas, and perspective to your readers. On top of this, the type of POV you use will help shape those ideas and perspectives and will help you define who your characters are and what they think.
There are three main types of POV:
- First Person
- Second Person
- Third Person
First-person is the most common POV writer’s use because it mimics how we tell stories in real life. Third-person is also used frequently but can be a bit tricky to write as it is not an entirely natural way form of telling a story. Third-person also has three “subcategories” as well. The least common POV is second person – it’s not how we tell stories in our everyday lives. I will be getting into all three types of POV in their own posts where I’ll really break them down.
I did want to talk about using multiple perspectives in your story though. While most writers choose to tell their stories from the main character’s perspective, you can tell your story from more than one character’s perspective. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re thinking about going down that route:
- Make sure you have a reason. Don’t just write from multiple perspectives just because you want to. Switching between characters and perspectives can be difficult. There are also risks involved with it as well, such as readers not getting to know or connect to a character or not switching between character perspectives cohesively.
- Ensure each character has a distinct voice. You’ll confuse both yourself and your readers when you can’t figure out which character is speaking.
- Don’t have too many POV characters. It can be overwhelming and confusing to both you and your readers; it won’t let your readers get to know your characters if they keep changing; it dilutes the core of your story; and finally, it just is hard to keep track of who is speaking and when.
- Stick to one perspective per chapter. This is what I generally tend to do when I write from multiple perspectives. You stick to one person per chapter and you can mark the chapter with the character’s name. If you decide to not mark it with a name you do need to let your readers know whose head they’re in. If you choose not to do this you need to have some sort of break and subsequent orientation to show the change of perspective.
- Don’t be afraid to have one main character in your multi-perspective narrative. This will help you narrow your focus down and help drive your story forward (think Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series). It doesn’t mean that this has to be a rule you must follow, there are books out there (think Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes series) that have multiple main characters that we get POVs from.
- Understand why you’re using a particular POV in each scene or chapter. And try to avoid retelling – it slows your story down. Just be purposeful with whose perspective you’re using and why.
That’s it for this week, my friends. We will look at first-person POV next week in depth. I hope everyone has a great weekend!
Until next week!