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February 04, 2014

The Four Main Points of View


A story can be told from one of these four main points of view.

First Person: the author is the one telling the story and is the main character. Readers get to hear all of their thoughts and can see the world through their eyes. Stories written from the first person point of view use “I” as the pronoun.

Second Person: the author is speaking directly to the reader, using “you” and “your”.

Third Person: the author writes from an outsider’s viewpoint, telling everything that a specific character does, says, and goes through during the course of the story. They can even let the reader in on the character's thoughts. For this point of view, the author uses “he” or “she”.
TIP: You can still have multiple perspectives for third person, but you have to make sure the story is equally divided between the characters, and that each scene is wholly dedicated to one of their points of views, not both. Indicate the change of a point of view with a scene break (#) or with the start of a new chapter.
Third Person Omniscient: the author is writing from an outsider’s viewpoint, but they know what every character is thinking and shares it with the reader. 

Third Person Omniscient is tricky to achieve because many who do not understand how to write in this perspective end up writing most of the story in the main character’s point of view and occasionally adding in other character’s thoughts. This is not Omniscient. This is head hopping.

To achieve this point of view, you must give all the characters an equal share in the story with their own strong arc. There are no minor characters.
TIP: Write as though you are viewing your story through a camera lens, showing everything that is happening to all the characters during a scene.
This method works great for stories with a lot of action or sweeping epics where every character has an important role in the story, like the Lord of the Rings.

FYI: I am not an expert on Third Person Omniscient. I probably would never be able to write in this perspective, so please do more research on this point-of-view before starting your story.


QUESTION: What point of view do you like to write in? 

I prefer third person, but have written in first. 



4 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The last one is often hard to read as well.
I prefer third person. I don't like being in my character's head THAT much, so no first person for me.

Chrys Fey said...

Third Person Omniscient is indeed tricky all around, for both writers and readers.

I don't mind first person if I can relate to the character. It's only hard to switch between third person for one WIP to first person for another.

lisa thomson said...

Third person. I do head hop some :) Great tips, Chrys. Thanks. I might read up a little more on POV now that you've piqued my interest.

Chrys Fey said...

I used to head hop . . . quite recently actually and I am just getting a handle on spotting it in my own writing. The best of us head hop! ;)