Angel Sefer's Free Readers Group

Angel Sefer's Free Readers Group

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Point of View in Fiction

When I first started writing novels, I just sat down in front of my typewriter (back then), my computer afterwards and started typing, letting my imagination carry me away. It was a lot later, when I found out that I had to worry about the “mechanisms” of writing.
One of these “mechanisms” is the Point of View (POV), in other words the perspective from which the story is told. It had come natural to me to use the “third-person point of view”, as it seemed the way to convey more information to the reader.
In the romance and mystery novels that I write, I wanted to reflect the thoughts of both my hero and heroine and sometimes even the thoughts of other important characters, in order for the mystery to unfold. It was later, when I started working with my editor, when I realized that I had to be very careful in shifting from one person’s POV to the other’s and keep it limited to one person’s POV per scene or even per chapter. It’s not easy to achieve it, but it seems a lot “smoother” for the reader.
The Points of View used in fiction are the following:
Ø      First-person point of view, where the whole story is told in first person from the hero’s or heroine’s or another main character’s POV (ex. I saw the passion burning in his beautiful eyes). Using this POV, it makes it easier to share with the readers the thoughts and feelings of the person telling the story. On the other hand, I think that it limits a little bit the information that the writer can present to the readers and makes the unfolding of a mystery a little more difficult, since the writer has to stick only to scenes and facts that the person telling the story has immediate access to or knowledge of.
Ø      Second-person point of view, where the whole story is told in second person (ex. you saw the passion burning in his beautiful eyes). I don’t think that I have ever read a novel written in second person.
Ø      Third-person point of view, where the whole story is told from a third person’s POV (i.e. she saw the passion burning in his beautiful eyes).
There are 3 different categories in this point of view, depending on how much information the person telling the story has access to:
  • Third-person objective point of view, where the whole story is told by an independent third person.
  • Third-person limited point of view, where the story is told by an independent third person, who however has access to the thoughts and feelings of one person in the story, either the same one throughout the story, or a different one from scene to scene or from chapter to chapter.
  • Third-person omniscient point of view, where the story is told by an independent third person, who however has access to the thoughts and feelings of every person in the story at all times. The reader in this case has a broader POV, but on the other hand, he doesn’t associate with any particular characters. Besides, if the transition from one character’s thoughts to the other’s is not smooth, it can be frustrating for the reader.

References to:

Ø      Narrative Mode at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrative_mode

Ø      What Is POV? by Christie Craig and Faye Hughes at http://www.netplaces.com/writing-a-romance-novel/mastering-and-choosing-the-right-point-of-view/what-is-pov.htm
Ø      Point of View in Fiction at Fiction Writers’ Mentor at http://www.fiction-writers-mentor.com/point-of-view-in-fiction.html