The fact is, a lot of novice writers switch point of view unintentionally or without knowing that there are specific categories of Point of View. Knowing these categories can help authors decide which point of view is best for their story. For the experienced writers out there, this might be a refresher or old news, but it is still worth remembering! For the novice writers, I hopefully have something new to share with you concerning Points of View:
There are in fact six different Points of View:
- 3rd Person Omniscient
- 3rd Person Limited Omniscient
- 3rd Person Objective or Dramatic
- 1st Person Central
- 1st Person Peripheral
- 2nd Person
The most commonly used P.O.V.s are 3rd person limited and 1st person central.
3rd Person Limited is when the narration is viewed through the mind of one character in particular but does not use “I” or “My” throughout. Also, the reader is not granted access to everyone’s thoughts, only one character’s thoughts. Consider the Harry Potter series where we follow the story through Harry, we view the action as Harry sees it, and we often come to the same biased conclusions as Harry.
1st Person Central is similarly viewed through one character, but the narration strictly uses “I” and “my” throughout the story. Consider The Hunger Games series as we read the words through Katniss’s voice.
One reason you might want to use 1st person over 3rd person is to help anchor the readers into the narrator’s perspective. 1st person helps connect the readers to the narrator’s struggles and beliefs. The story feels more personal.
Now that I’ve covered the two most common, you might be curious about the others.
3rd Person Omniscient is a narration that can jump around from mind to mind, from character to character. While this P.O.V. can be done well and offer a lot of information, it often can go wrongly when readers find it difficult to follow the narration. One example is the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.
3rd Person Objective/Dramatic is narrated from an unbiased narrator. The best example is a fairy tale in which the story is laid out, the facts are given, but no opinion is offered and we do not often hear the thoughts of the characters.
1st Person Peripheral is similar to 1st person central as both are narrated by an individual character who uses “I” and “My” throughout. The major difference is that in 1st person peripheral the narrator of the story is a minor character at best and is describing the major events happening between other characters. The best example of this is The Great Gatsby which is narrated by Nick, but if we are being honest, no one really remembers Nick because he’s not that important for the story. He’s as much a member of the audience as we are.
Lastly, there is 2nd person which is the least used P.O.V. In these narrations, the “speaker” consistently addresses the “you” of the story. “You” are the story. It’s an interesting, yet hardly used P.O.V. due to the difficulty is successfully sustaining such a narration without sounding awkward or repetitious. I’m not sure I can even think of one successful novel that would be labeled a 2nd person P.O.V. . . .
Well, there you have it! These are the six points of view you can use when you write! Your point of view does affect your narrative and as such you should consider it when writing, editing, or re-writing your stories! It applies for poetry too! In fact, 2nd person can work nicely with poetry. . .
What P.O.V. do you use most often? Why?
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Happy Writing Everyone!
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