Choosing the Right Point of View for Your Story

The point of view you use in your story greatly impacts the reader’s experience. So, I’m going to teach you how to traverse the landscape of narrative perspective, uncover the essence of point of view (POV), and discover how to choose the right one for your story.

Understanding the Concept of Point of View in Literature

Understanding the Concept of Point of View in Literature

Point of view is the literary term for the perspective from which a story is told. It’s like a camera lens, determining what the readers see, hear and know about the characters and their actions. In other words, it’s the eyeball through which your readers get to peek at your world.

First Person, Second Person and Third Person: A Quick Overview

Let’s crack open this concept a little further:

  • First-person POV: The story is told by the “I” or “We” narrator. It’s like being inside the character’s head, hearing their thoughts, and seeing the world through their eyes. Here’s an example: “I sprinted toward the station, my heart pounding in my chest like a drum.”
  • Second-person POV: The story is told as if to a “you.” It’s as if the reader is a character in the story, making this POV rare and tricky. Example: “You walk down the alley, fear clawing at your throat.”
  • Third-person POV: The story is about “he,” “she” or “they.” It’s as if the reader is an observer. This POV can be “limited” (following one character closely) or “omniscient” (knowing what multiple characters think and feel). Example: “She glanced at the clock, anxiety knotting her stomach.”

Determining Which POV Suits Your Story Best

Choosing a POV isn’t as simple as eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Consider factors like the intimacy you want with your characters, the complexity of your plot, and the amount of information you need to convey.

Do you want readers to step into the character’s shoes, feeling every heartbeat, or do you want a grand overview of a world at war?

Personally, I write in first-person, past tense POV. This lets me jump right into my main character’s brain and write the story as they experience it. But, on occasion, I’ve used third-person POV that alternates between different characters so my readers get a well-rounded experience.

The Impact of POV on Your Story’s Tone and Accessibility

Your POV shapes the reader’s connection with the characters and their journey. A first-person narrative might be deeply personal and emotionally gripping, while a third-person omniscient could provide a wider, more epic scope.

The Pros and Cons of Each POV

  • First-person POV: Pro—Intimate and immediate. Con—Limited to one perspective.
  • Second-person POV: Pro—Unique and immersive. Con—Can feel intrusive or gimmicky.
  • Third-person POV: Pro—Flexible and all-encompassing. Con—Can be less intimate.

Common Mistakes Made When Choosing a POV

  1. Switching a POV without a clear reason or structure.
  2. Choosing a POV that doesn’t serve the story.
  3. Inconsistent POV, leading to reader confusion.

Choosing the right POV is a game-changer. It’s the gateway to your story, so make sure to leave a good first impression. Now, time to play with these narrative eyeballs!