Point of view or POV was something I never really gave much thought to when I started out writing. Practically everything I wrote was in the third person and I was always quite happy with that. It was only when I started to write seriously that I found there were two other main POV’s in which I could write.
So what is POV and how does it impact on writing style and stories?
This is where you have what is called a God’s eye view. You tell the story as an onlooker so you can see what everyone in your story does and get inside everyone’s heads. This type of narration is most commonly used in fiction as it is the one that provides the most flexibility to the author. As the storyteller you are the narrator and never actually become part of the story.
First person POV is where you are telling the story from your perspective, you will be a part of the story although not necessarily the main character. You may be a side character that watches the story unfold from a distance but nevertheless it is your story to tell. However this can be quite limiting because you can only tell the story as you see it. You will not be able to tell the reader what others are doing when they are not in the scene as you will not be able to see them or get inside their heads. This kind of information usually comes to light when other characters are speaking. A significant benefit from writing in the first person is that you can tell the story with deeper feeling as you are the one who is conveying how things and situations actually feel to you and the effects that this may or may not have in the story. The use of taste, touch, smell etc are a wonderful way of describing your surroundings. Another aspect that is worth considering is the fact that you are speaking directly to the reader and in this regard you must have fully fleshed out your character if you want your reader to symapthise with you; remember they are along with you for the ride and want to be as fully invested in the story as you are. I have friends that will only pick up a book if it is written in the first person because they find they can relate better to the story if they are with the narrator on their journey.
This is perhaps the most limiting of POV’s but also the most interesting, I think. It is where the author refers to one of the characters as “you”, making the reader feel as if they are being addressed personally. You will see that this style is almost always used in song lyrics and on children’s television shows where the presenters act as if they are actually speaking through the TV at the child watching. It is an immediate engagement and I have found a great style to use for shock factor. In my story “Obsession” which was published in the book “House of Terrors“, I used the second person POV to portray the mindset of a stalker. Addressing the reader directly helped me to scare them by making them think that someone was actually after them. Similarly in my story “That Sinking Feeling” from the book “Picnic Nightmares” I used this POV to write as a serial killer. Of course if you are not a horror writer like myself, then this would be a lovely POV to use in romantic fiction. Once again you cannot jump heads or scenes that don’t involve the storyteller but once mastered this style is very rewarding to use.
These are the main POV’s but there are others. Third person single vision, multiple vision, first person present, first person past, and you can also jump heads using first person to third person and so on. There are many places to find out more information of these POV’s if you want to experiment with your narration but I hope that this had shed a little light on the subject for you, a springboard if you will, to greater things.
Good luck and please share your experiences.