Craft: Writing

POV (Point of View)

As a reader I don’t think about POV too much, but as a writer, I think about it often. While plot is the engine of your story, POV must be the transmission. It’s a crucial element that should be based on both the the story and the writer’s needs.

Examples of Points of View:

1st person:

Pronouns used: We or I.

The Good
– It provides the most intimacy between the reader and the narrator.
– The reader can actually be inside the character’s head.

The Bad
– There can be a tendency to tell instead of show.
– The closeness of narrator & reader may become tedious.
– The reader is restricted to only one character’s perceptions.

2nd person:

Pronouns used: You

The Good
– Forcefully puts the reader into the narrators shoes.
– The reader becomes an active participant.

The Bad
– It can feel as if the reader is being bossed around.

3rd person:

Pronouns used: He, She, They

The Good
– The most common form of story telling.
– It provides an objectionably that first & second person cannot provide.

The Bad
– It lacks the intimacy between narrator & reader.

Types of third person:

– Omniscient – God like entity that is all knowing and can come and go inside each character’s head

– Objective – Narrator can only comment on what they see, they cannot get into he minds of the characters.

– Limited – The narrator can only view the thoughts and expressions of one single character.

I wrote the first couple drafts of Papa’s Bones in third-person limited. I chose this view point because it was the easiest for me. But as I started my revisions, I began to notice a repeated pattern. Too many asides from the third person narrator into the main character’s POV. I’ve seen many authors do this (and it annoys me >-<). Some, who are even on the best seller lists. All that head hopping slows the action and numbs the emotions the narrator is trying to convey. I needed to admit that I was doing the same thing in my own writing–and it needed to stop. So, I began to ask myself, which POV would make this a stronger story? How close do I want the narrator and reader to be? Second person was out and third person didn’t convey the closeness I needed. I had to change my POV to first person. Now, I could have changed my ‘shes’ to ‘Is’ and left it at that, but that wasn’t enough. I wanted to do it right. This meant going back and reading many more period diaries, novels, and watching more of those old black and whites movies to get the slang and customs of the 1930s. It was more work, but in the end I believe I told a more engaging story by changing my point of view.

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