Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Point of View

I was talking to some friends recently about the inner workings of how writers craft stories, and one of the subjects we talked about was point of view. I wrote a post on this a few years ago for my other blog, so I thought I'd repost some of the finer points. Mainly, the different types of point of view out there. Until I started looking around while writing this post, I didn't really think about how many types of points of view there are.

In fiction, we tend to use first person or third person. But there are quite a few others. Here are the common choices:
  • First person - the narrator is generally the main character in the book and tells the story as "I" (I did this, I said, I felt)

  • First person plural - more rare, with the story told by "we" (we did this, we said that)

  • Second person - very rare - the reader is treated as a character and is referred to as "you." This type of POV works well for some non-fiction works. For example, if I was writing a How-to article, I could use this to say "First, you take the paint brush and apply paint. Then you do this and this and this." For fiction though, this POV isn't used often, though it is used in those Choose Your Own Adventure books.

  • Third person limited - the narrator is outside the story but focuses on one character at a time. (He said, she said). While the POV may change between different characters, these changes would be separated by scene or chapter breaks. 

  • Third person omniscient - the narrator is outside the story but doesn't focus on one character. The narrator knows all, sees all, conveys all. 
Have you ever used a point of view other than first or third person? Do you like reading books in points of view different from the "norm"?


Matthew MacNish said...

I used to dislike 1st person, probably because of all my history of reading epic fantasy, but now that I've written in it, I like it.

And second person is a tricky thing. Having the word 'you' in a book, outside of dialogue, does not necessarily make a second person POV.

Mark Noce said...

I use 3rd person variants the most, although I respect 1st person. However, I love 2nd person and have done some writing with it, but I don't think the reading public is quite ready for that kind of stuff:)

storyqueen said...

I am working on a 3rd person right now...but it remains to be seen if it will be limited or omniscient!


Christine Fonseca said...

I like playing around with POV and you know!

Jack LaBloom said...

I like to read books written in first person and third person equally well.