A Complete Guide To Writer’s Point Of View

a complete guide to writer's pov info graphic

Hey, I am back with Writer’s point of view something most writer’s struggle with because of its tricky nature and it is a.k.a pov. Point of view is the eye or view through which your story is told and that’s why I made a complete guide just for you.

Is Writer’s POV Important ?

The answer is yes, simply put Point of view helps to build the narration for your writing which links you the writer with your readers. An authentic narration has higher chances of capturing your readers than a flat one. This is why it’s so important to understand point of view and to choose the right one to convey your message.

What Do Writer’s Consider When Choosing Point Of View

  • Naturalism: does your selected Point of view help your story sound real and authentic? For example when you use the first-person Point of view it may seem like your hearing the story straight from the horses mouth.
  • Urgency: Does the POV make the story feel immediate? Does it take the reins of your reader and drag them into the story deep dive? Or does it give them more of a birds-eye view? There’s no perfect choice only the best one that best serves the story for you to tell .
  • Snippets: Some POV creates opportunities for short narrations that is stories nested within stories

We’ll be looking at different Point Of Views, let’s start with;

Traditional First Person Point of View

A lady stretched out relaxing on her balcony working on her writer's point of view

First-person POV is when the narrator¬† (i.e the person telling the story) is a character inside the story. In other words, it’s the I, me, mine type of narration. In first person POV , the narrator is the protagonist¬† (that is the main character ) which means the narrator only knows what the protagonist knows period !!!.

First-person can be tricky sometimes because you can only follow where your protagonist goes, this means you can only show scenes in your story if the protagonist appears in them. A typical example of traditional first person is: – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Let The Middle Man Go

 One interesting part about the first person is that you get to go deep into your main characters mind because the protagonist is the one telling the story you can show the reader everything that character thinks or feels.This drives engagement from your readers into your story and most importantly your character.

First-person can create a strong feeling of urgency especially when told in the present tense because it feels like the reader is right there with the protagonist, experiencing every moment with past-tense narration, the traditional first person can create a strong sense of naturalism, as though we’re hearing the story from someone who was there and lived through it.

The downside for traditional first person is you can only show one characters thoughts and it’s hard to show the bigger picture of your story’s world when you can only see bit through that one characters eyes.

Practice Makes Perfect :WRITER’S Point Of Writer’s PRACTICE

The best way to perfect these techniques is to practice writing the POV featured. This is why with each type of POV I will give you a little exercise to practice.Also, feel free to reach out to me on how the exercises helped you.Cheers !!!

"If you really want to hear about
it"

Non-copy those eight works boldly written then just start writing . Stick to that immediate first person voice and get writing.

The Peripheral First Person Point Of View

the peripheral first person point of view

We just finished with the traditional first person now we are on to the Peripheral first person, this is where the narrator is still a character in the story but this time not the main character. Since the protagonist and the narrator are two different persons, this implies that what the narrator knows does not directly overlap with everything the protagonist knows.

In other words, there is an intersection between the protagonist and narrator held if the knowledge that the story must live within.A typical example of a novel written in Peripheral first person is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Why Is Your Protagonist Not Narrating?

In the peripheral POV, you are allowed to deep dive into the mind of your narrating character, but this character is not your protagonist. This means you can’t access the protagonist’s thoughts or emotions, only that of the narrator ( that’s a supporting character). This also means that you can only include scenes where that narrator’s character appears. For example your protagonist is injured but your narrator is not at the scene you can’t directly show the scene is your story when you use this point of view.

You are probably wondering why a writer would use the Peripheral first-person POV when it’s so confined. The answer lies with the nature of the protagonist. The Peripheral POV is great at creating a cloudy or filtered impression of your Protagonist. Like in the great novel Great Gatsby, Jay might be tacky and over the top at times but when readers see him through the eyes of his friend, he doesn’t seem quite so bad.Another answer is the Peripheral helps to create a sense of distance between the reader and the protagonist.

Practice Makes Perfect: Writer’s Point Of View Practice

Another POV exercise for you, what would the story of Cinderella look like if it was told from the perspective of the stepsisters? That’s your job to decide. You can choose any classic story and rewrite it from the perspective of a character who is not the protagonist. You here to be creative with how you convey the entire story to your reader, since this supposed supporting character may not appear in most key scenes.

Peripheral POV can be tricky but it can also be fun. Try it and be sure to give me feedback in the comments below.

The Unreliable First Person Point Of View

an unreliable first person point of view

Now, this is another interesting POV, thus a challenge to pull off. The narrator is called unreliable because the narrator is precisely unreliable, Read that again !!! Just like the traditional first person, in this point of view the narrator and protagonist is one and the same, the only difference here is that the character’s perception of reality may be a bit skewed. There are several reasons why this narrator is unreliable;

  • The character may be dishonest.
  • The character may be keeping a secret.
  • The character might be an animal or alien species with a different thinking from our own.
  • The character may be young and naive, that is a child or infant.
  • The character may be disabled or sick mentally.
  • The character may be deluded.

In such a case, all first-person narrators are unreliable because of their clouded judgement due to their experiences. Thus, it’s up to the reader to find out the real fats in the story. You must give your readers a red line by which to judge the truth from the lies. You can switch between alternating characters perspectives, so your readers can see the narrators unreliability when they see the inconsistency between how they narrate the same event.

Also, if you want to have an unreliable POV in a story, your readers need to know the standards of that world so they can understand when that reality becomes skewed by the narrators perspective. Examples of this technique is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn .

Practice Makes Perfect :Writer’s Point Of View Practice

Imagine a character doing everyday chores like cleaning, next give your character a reason to have a skewed perspective in that situation. This could be something dramatic as a character experiencing a panic attack or something less frightening.The intention is to create a scene where everyday activity becomes progressively more melodramatic because the characters mind-set spins the situation out of control for an example read this story, “The Tell Tale Heart By Edgar Allan Poe”

Puzzling Reality

The unreliable narration has good tendency to hook your readers, because it requires that they be actively engaged in assembling the puzzle pieces of the story The keys to the unreliable POV is finding that delicate balance between surprising your readers with the narrators skewed perspective and making readers feel like they have been hoaxed.

The Second Person Point Of View

the second person point of view

This is an unusual POV, as it is seldom used in writing fiction. It puts the reader( like you reading this at the moment ) in the protagonist shoes. The narrator tells the story as though the reader is the protagonist, doing all the things the protagonist does in the story. This creates a sense of engagement with your reader strongly.

Using 2nd Point Of View For The Right Reason ?

The 2nd POV is a tricky one to pull off, due to this, it is hard to sustain for the length of a novel, that’s why we find so many short stories with this POV and very few novels. Hence, the 2nd POV is hard to do well. The 2nd POV may put your reader off as they are not used to reading this kind of narrative, It may feel like the events of the story is happening to your reader. An example of second POV is Bright lights.

The Limited Third Person Point Of View

limited third person point of view

In the third person POV,you use words like he/she it and so on. In this POV the narration is outside the story, hence producing a broad vision of the characters. This is similar to the first person POV without actually being inside the characters head .The narrator is limited to one character at a time .

Why You Should Use The Limited Third Person Point Of View.

Narrative distance

  • It entails a wider scope of knowledge
  • It allows the description of the characters appearance

This is the ability of the narrator to zoom in or out of the POV characters consciousness, just like a camera can zoom in or out of an object.

PRO’S ; It creates room to zoom in on the POV character. It provides great deal of details such as feelings and even physical sensations of the POV character .

CON’S; Jumping in and out of your Point of view’s character quickly can confuse your readers and make your story feel unnatural.

Writer’s Point Of View Practice: Practice Makes Perfect

  • Write a short scene in third person about character walking into a church , you can change the setting go a school or restaurant if you want start off with the character paying his/her tithe or offering. It should be a paragraph long. Write what feels natural to you.
  • When your done with the short scene rewrite the exact same scene but from a closer angle.Try to be in your characters shoes, what does he/she feel, see, smell,hear, what he or she is think or feeling?
  • Finally rewrite the scene one more time, but from a further distance, that is zoom out on the scene it will feel like you’re watching the scene on the pulpit while sitting in the back row of the church.

Omniscient Third Person Point Of View

omniscient third person point of view

This POV is all-seeing and all-knowing, that means the narrator has access to all characters.This POV was widely used in the 18th and 19th century literature but now in modern times authors have moved to 1st person POV or limited third person POV. It may seem spooky, as the narrator is present everywhere and visible nowhere However recently,the Omniscient POV is making a comeback.

Challenges Of The All Seeing Eye

The Omniscient third person is a very challenging POV to execute. The narrator can leap into any characters mind at any time. The narrator can also anticipate events before it happens.The narrator can also be in two places at once while this may bring a wide range of knowledge, It turns you the writer into a storyteller. With all the jumping around , change of setting , characters mind and so on, it makes the reader to not feel grounded. To avoid this the narrator needs to stay in one place/time or with one character long enough to engage the reader

Writer’s POV Practice: Practice Makes Perfect

Most fairy tale are told in third person Omniscient POV which is why they are great for practicing this POV , so write a short fairy tale, as you write, try your different techniques like hoping from one characters perspective to another or between timelines or locations.

The Objective Third Person Point Of View

objective third person point of view

This is the exact opposite of the Omniscient POV, in the objective third person the narrator can only describe how the characters look, or what they say or do. The narrator has no access to any of the characters thoughts or emotions this is not common in novels as it is not easy to sustain over a longer work. This POV makes the narrator and reader wear the same shoe, they are both observers looking in on the story from the outside.

This POV gives your readers some weight to carry. The burden is on the reader to infer all the meaning behind what the characters say and do. This allows your readers to focus only on what the characters say and do ; They are forced to be objective and not look at both sides of the story instead at aligning themselves with the POV character from the outset. These elements can make your reader engaged in the story because they are set to figure it out for themselves but the problem with this POV is that the characters can start to feel distant to the readers due to lack of description of inner thoughts and emotions.

Writer’s POV Practice: Practice Makes Perfect

Write a short scene about two characters, gambling for a huge sum of money, now the ultimate goal is to win the objective third person Point of view when writing this scene, you can only show the characters appearance or what they say or do, you can’t say their thoughts . Make sure you stick to the objective third person Point of view, Good luck!!!

Multiple Point Of View

This is an attachment of two points of view; the traditional first person and the limited third person, in any given scene the narration is limited to the POV character in that scene, but between scenes, chapters or sections of the story you can shift from one characters perspective to another. You can have all the narration in either first or third person, or you can combine the two. There is no fast rule to this, just choice a pattern that works for you and can be consistent with it

PROS:
  • By shifting into supporting characters perspective you can show scenes where the protagonist isn’t present.
  • It let’s you tap into the heart and mind of more than one character

Make The Rules and Stick to It

Your transition from one character to the other should be as smooth as possible for the reader. The last thing you want is confusing your readers. Create rules about how often you will switch  between characters and when you will make those shifts, such as;

  • Alternating between characters from chapter to chapter.
  • Having sections of the book dedicated to a single character .
  • Clarifying characters POV you’re in to your readers.

Writer’s Point Of View Practice:Practice Makes Perfect

Show a wedding scene, the bride walking down the aisle, Now from different character’s points of view, Write a story showing the exact same moment from 3 different character’s perspectives such as the bride, the groom, a parent or sibling.

Goodluck!!!

This brings us to the end of everything about a writer’s POV, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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