Choosing the Right Point of View


Which is the best Point of View to use for your novel?

First I want to say when I say the best point of view (POV) I don’t actually mean there is ONE best point of view overall. Not to read and not to write in.

The best POV is the one that works best for YOU and for your story. POV isn’t one size fits all. It depends on your genre, your style, what you prefer, etc. And during your writing career, you won’t only write in one POV. At least many authors don’t.

1st person POV is writing from your main character’s point of view. Think I/me.  

2nd person POV uses you and can be challenging to use.

3rd person POV uses her/she (or his/he) POV.

The typical POV’s used in fiction writing are 1st and 3rd person. Rarely do people write in second person POV though it has successfully been done. Think Bright Lights, Big City? If you’ve never read it you should.

3rd person POV is more commonly used as it gives the author a bigger range of viewpoints. I like reading and writing in both it just depends on how the story is best told.

I started my career writing in the first person. It made sense for the genre I was writing and I found it easier. Less to keep track of and I was able to put myself in the head of the main character and it worked for me. 

After my first few novels, I realized that I could get a little deeper into the story using 3rd person POV. So I do have a couple books that are in 3rd. I’m trying to use it more as I expand what I write. It gives me more ability to show different sides of characters. 

I came across an article once that said many beginning writers start writing in 1st and graduate to 3rd. Makes complete sense to me. So I guess I’m not alone.

3rd person POV has 2 types. In my ventures into 3rd person, I use the limited POV. 3rd person limited is very much like 1st person with a little more freedom to see what else is happening with other folks. But you’re not continuously head hopping. 

The other 3rd person POV is omniscient. This allows you to head hop and see what all the characters, or main ones anyway, are thinking. I’ve read some books that used 3rd person omniscient that ended up confusing me. I couldn’t keep track of all the characters, therefore, I could get engaged in the story. 

I am currently re-reading a book by Elin Hilderbrand and she uses 3rd person omniscient with such amazing skill I’m inspired to try it.

I’m more engaged with the characters, even the ones I don’t love, and I feel like I am part of whats happening.

Which is the point of that POV and why she’s a best-selling author. Go, Elin!

So how do you determine what POV you should use for your novel?

It really comes down to what you feel comfortable writing and the genre you’re writing in. If you write romance or mystery you could get away with either 1st or 3rd. If you’re writing a multi-general historical romance or a sci-fi book about a dystopian world, you would want to use 3rd. 1st person would limit you too much. The more characters you have the harder it becomes to keep it all in 1st person.

Is there a POV you prefer to write in? How about reading in?

 

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— laina

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