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Point of View

August 5, 2010

A key element a writer must determine is deciding on a point of view. Technically, there are four to choose from – first person, second person, third person, and omniscient. However, only three are commonly used today.

First Person

First person is considered the most intimate point of view. As the reader, you experience the story through only one person’s eyes. Since you’re hearing the story through only one person, you won’t know about any events or experiences this character does not personally have. This is great for mysteries and thrillers.

Second Person

Second person is commonly used in only instructional writing. The story is told from the perspective of “you”. Some writers have implicated this type of point of view in other genres. However, it’s quite difficult and not recommended for new writers.

Omniscient

In the omniscient point of view, everything is seen and known. This technique was frequently used in the nineteenth century but is seldom used today. The reader only experiences the things the characters experience, depending on how in to the story you are. If a character hears something growling in the bush, you don’t get to know who or what it is until the character experiences the reveal. Only read the character’s reaction to that noise.

Third Person

Third person point of view is the one most commonly used by writers. It’s a compromise between omniscient and first person point of view. This one allows you the privileged of  switching back and forth between different characters, allowing the possibility of multiple lead characters.

However, you will want to limited amount of point of views. For an experience writer, it may come easy to shift between several characters. Amateur writers may have more difficulties with this. You want it to always be clear when the point of view character is switched. If it becomes too confusing, a reader will most likely put your book down. So, as a general rule, you will want to stick with one, maybe two, point of views until you gain more experience.

Another general rule is to not have more than one point of views within a single novel. This is dangerous territory for new writers. It’s difficult to accomplish but can be done. A writer should stick to the point of view within their comfort zone until gaining more experience.

What is the point of view you like writing in the most? Have you tried with two? Did you succeed or fail?

Andrea prefers third person. She has ventured in to first but finds her comfort zone in third.
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One Comment
  1. August 5, 2010 7:05 am

    I started my 1st novel in 3rd person but had the idea that it would be better first person, and think I was right. However after 20k words I put it down for NaNo last year where I HAD to write the novel in third (it’s a Mills & Boon type and that’s all they accept).

    I’m now trying to start back with the 1st novel, but finding first person a bit of a challenge. I just need to write more. More more more!

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