As I’ve mentioned before, writing a book is an art. It takes more than telling a story; more than writing words on paper; even more than the back-breaking work you have to put in it from start to finish.
In this article, I’ll talk about POV—point of view. What is a point of view and why is it important to your story.
Point of view in literature is a window through which the reader sees, hears, feels and smells the story. Setting the POV is entirely up to the author.
There are three types of POVs, but only two of them are regularly used .
- First-person POV—the author narrates the story with the pronoun I or We. In other words, the reader can only hear, see, feel, and smell what I or We can hear, see, feel, and smell.
Example: Ica Iova’s, Unsung Victims. The story is seen exclusively through Johanna’s eyes. The reader only gets to see, hear, feel, and smell what Johanna sees, hears, feels, or smells.
~ I felt pleased and troubled in the same breath. My own image—aged image—gazed back at me from the mirror. Maybe not so much aged as soul-tired. Heartbroken. Blond wisps spilling out from a loose ponytail and a pair of sluggish blue eyes crafted the image of a worn-out figure. ~ Johanna’s POV ~
- Second-person POV—the author speaks directly to the reader. This POV is relatively uncommon. However, some authors have employed it efficiently.
Example: Italo Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller. The author speaks directly to the reader.
~You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveller. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room. Tell the others right away, “No, I don’t want to watch TV!” Raise your voice—they won’t hear you otherwise…~ Italo Calvino ~
- Third-person POV—the author narrates the story through a third-person’s eyes. Here, the author may choose a third-person omniscient POV, where the thoughts and senses of every character are open to the reader, or third-person limited, where only one character’s mind and senses are accessible by the reader.
Example: Ica Iova’s, Boundaries. More than one character’s POV is open to the reader. The following example is one scene containing two POVs separated by a paragraph break.
~ To her dismay, through all that darkness, she thought she saw the gleaming light of determination intensifying in his eyes. She realized that this was it. He had used every tool in his considerable arsenal to seduce her. And she’d be damned if she didn’t let him have it his way. ~ Gabriela’s POV ~
~ He could probably pull together more rational reasons, but the two years they’d been apart, had made him recognize what was important in life, and it wasn’t defending stupid criminals. ~ Landon’s POV ~
Writing from multiple points of views is my favorite because I can switch back and forth between characters—I can allow each character to express their thoughts and emotions.
However, writing from more than one POV can be tricky and distracting to the reader. The author must be very careful to keep the story focused. Each character must wait for their turn to have the podium so they don’t clutter and confuse the plotline, pacing, and ultimately the reader.
Yes, you can write stories in all three types of POVs, as long as you remember these two simple rules: a) write in the POV that makes you comfortable; b) if you write in third-person omniscient POV, insert breaks between POVs—either paragraph breaks or chapter breaks.