Understanding Point of View

Narrator:  The person who is experiencing and observing the events and settings and telling the story.

Using POV

  1. It is usually best to use a single type of POV throughout the story.
  2. Unless you are very good with smoothly switching from one character’s POV to another within a scene, don’t. Try to stay in one POV throughout the scene, possibly the whole chapter.
  3. Decide per scene who the character is that has more at stake in it and use his/her POV.

First Person View

  1. First Person Singular: Most common of the first person POVs where the narration is done by one character only. It can be difficult to manage, especially for a beginning writer. Everything seen, heard, experienced, said, felt, and thought is in one person’s POV.
  2. Usually used in letters or diaries.
  3. First Person Multiple: A narration form that uses several first-person narrators to give the story more depth.
  4. Characters are referred to as “I,” “me,” or “we.”
  5. Example: I saw… I heard… I did… I went… I thought…

Second Person View

  1. Viewpoint that is most rarely used, difficult to manage by a writer, and awkward for a reader. Best suited for writing short stories.
  2. Refers to one of the characters as “you” to make the reader feel they are a character within the story.
  3. Example: You see… You hear… You do…You go…You think

Third Person View

  1. The most commonly used viewpoint. The reader is not the character, but experiences everything through a character’s POV.
  2. Characters are referred to as “he,” “she,” “it,” or “they.”
  3. Example: He saw… She heard… He did… They went… He felt… She thought…
  4. Third Person Subjective: A style that is similar to first person where the narration is from a single character’s POV, but uses  “he” or “she” instead of “I.” Example: As Karen could not think of any good reason for staying, she turned away to leave.
  5. Third Person Limited: The narrator conveys the thoughts, feelings and opinions of only one character, usually the protagonist.
  6. Third Person Objective: The narrator is never revealed and the story is told without describing the character’s thoughts, feelings or opinions in an unbiased viewpoint. Often used in newspaper articles. Example: The cold wind blew the door shut.  OR  “It’s cold outside,” the woman said.
  7. Third Person Omniscient: The author knows all basically. He knows the characters’ thoughts and feelings, and he knows the settings and events of the story. He relays all the facts, including the characters’ thoughts, by jumping in and out of various characters’ heads..An advantage of this viewpoint is that it is the most reliable and often best for telling huge epic stories or very complicated stories. But it does tend to distance the reader from the story. Example: Starla is creative. Kay is cautious.

© 2010 Starla Kaye

The Smarts

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This website is the work of Starla Criser, an author who has published more than 50 stories, both traditionally and through self-publishing routes.