Choosing POV (point of view) for your book.
POV is the point of view dealing with the narration of the story. Think of it as playing it as a movie in your head and you are going to pick scenes for your book, in which point of view you want to tell it from. There are four types of point views:
First person pronoun “I” “me” “my”
Second Person pronoun “you”, “you’re”
Third Person Pronoun “He” “She” “her” “his”
Choosing POV (point of view) for your book can be tricky and you have to pick the one you think is best for your story. You have to make sure; you carry on with the POV you have chosen. Meaning you don’t start with first person and then switch to second person as it can be confusing to follow along . Also your editor won’t be happy.
Let discuss examples of Point of Views.
Choosing POV (point of view) for your book in first Person this most probably is the “easiest” and most common in fiction. If you haven’t encountered a book with this point of view, I don’t know what on earth you had been reading. Here your character is narrating the story and recounting directly what is happening. The reader will know what that character is thinking, feeling, and expressing his/herself in their unique way.
Think of it as if you’re writing on a dairy.
Here is an example from the masterpiece Catcher in the Rye.
“One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies. That’s all. They were coming in the goddam window. For instance, they had this headmaster, Mr. Haas, that was the phoniest bastard I ever met in my life. Ten times worse than old Thurmer. On Sundays, for instance, old Haas went around shaking hands with everybody’s parents when they drove up to school. He’d be charming as hell and all. Except if some boy had little old funny-looking parents.”
First person is limited.
When you write in this narrative, keep my mind that your character will only say what he/she experienced. They can’t be everywhere so they can’t tell all sides of the story.
The first person is basied.
The reader will sympathize with the character even if he/she is an anti-hero. Keep in mind, there is the unreliable narrator, where the character choices not to say examples like Catcher in the Rye, Lolita or Gone girl.
Because you decide to write in this point view it doesn’t mean your character has to be perfect or likable. Far from it. Take Lolita’s Humbert Humbert, I wouldn’t consider him likable at all but he is interesting. Anti-hero’s make a great first-person narrator’s.
Make sure you “show” and not “ tell “ with the first person. This can be tricky is that you start writing I did this I did that I went there and met so-so. Remember, to use the five senses when it comes to writing:
Choosing POV (point of view) for your book in the second person. I’ve hardly read any Fiction in this point view, usually, it’s used when you compose an email, lyrics, and in nonfiction. Yet, when I read, two books in this perspective, which made me realize, how interesting it is. This gives a unique experience to the reader and the story feels more personal. It’s like the character is talking directly to the reader. This can effective for thrillers/mysteries, to increase the creepy element.
Here is an example of what a second person narrative looks like from the amazing book that blew my mind called You
“You are classic and compact, my own little Natalie Portman circa the end of the movie Closer, when she’s fresh-faced and done with the bad British guys and going home to America. You’ve come home to me, delivered at last, on a Tuesday, 10:06 A.M. Every day I commute to this shop on the Lower East Side from my place in Bed-Stuy. Every day I close up without finding anyone like you. Look at you, born into my world today. I’m shaking and I’d pop an Ativan but they’re downstairs and I don’t want to pop an Ativan. I don’t want to come down. I want to be here, fully, watching you bite your unpainted nails and turn your head to the left, no, bite that pinky, widen those eyes, to the right, no, reject biographies, self-help (thank God), and slow down when you make it to fiction.”
I’m currently working on a book with this narrative and it’s so much fun you should try it 😉
Third Person (limited)
Choosing POV (point of view) for your book in third person limited is when the narrator is recounting the story and is not present in it. Mainly it focuses on one particular character like in the Harry Potter books. JK Rowling focused only on Harry.
“When he was dressed he went down the hall into the kitchen. The table was almost hidden beneath all Dudley’s birthday presents. It looked as though Dudley had gotten the new computer he wanted, not to mention the second television and the racing bike. Exactly why Dudley wanted a racing bike was a mystery to Harry, as Dudley was very fat and hated exercise — unless of course, it involved punching somebody. Dudley’s favorite punching bag was Harry, but he couldn’t often catch him. Harry didn’t look it, but he was very fast.”
Third Person Omniscient
This can be tricky to write but suitable if you have lots of characters. This gives the reader the experience to know what’s happening everywhere, and what your characters are thinking and feeling.
I wrote a brief example here
‘What is taking you so long?’ Sarah yelled tapping her feet as anger began to rise through her belly.
‘In a minute,’ Jack said, thinking, why have I married this horrid monster of a wife. As he put on his jacket.
Be careful to make your narration sound different from each other.
It can be confusing to write in third person omniscient, not recommended for writers starting out. What is best is to use the method that J.R.R Martin uses in the Game of Thrones each character have separated scenes and chapter.
There is no guide to pick which narrative to use for your story. The most common are the First person and Third person Limited. The trick is to experiment when it comes to writing. The more you write, the more you will learn, and enhance your craft.
Happy writing xx
You can also check out my other posts Basic methods of outlining a novel