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AYOW - What's your point of view?

Hope this is OK.

I got a question about Point of View (PoV) on one of my stories. I wanted to check my answer and ask how you handle this PoV thing?

Link to Question/ Answer

Here is what I said...

"Point of view is something I have most difficulty with. It affects how much of the dialogue you can write and how to phrase it. We were never taught this in school, as far as I can remember we were just told to get on with it and write stories. So I have been trying to learn about it and, from what I can gather, you can have three main ways of telling the story. I welcome any literary expert's corrections about this if I have got it wrong.

First person tells the story from the POV of one of the characters. Here you cannot know what the others are thinking and what they get up to when you are not around except from what you can deduce.

The next is third person observer whereby you can flit to any location and describe what any of the characters is up to as far as you can see them but you don't know their thoughts or motivation.

Finally you have third person omniscient where you can describe the events and the intimate thoughts and feelings of one or more of the characters.

On top of all this you then have to worry about tense and make sure that you don't flit from present to past and back again. Pick a tense and stick with it is easier said than done, I find.

So, to answer your question, I wanted to try and write this from a third person omniscient POV - this is how I knew both Arnold's and Susanne's thoughts and histories. These are not things that an observer could know. I haven't gone back and checked how successful or consistent I have been in this or my tense cosisitency. This is where review and re-drafting comes in.

What's your favourite POV? Have you tried writing from different P'sOV?

Lets not forget Second Person

Lets not forget Second Person. A few others have done this very well, but it is by far the hardest form to do right. So hard it is often completely ignored. In this form you are the protagonist, or at least joining him directly on his adventures:
"Right here and now, as an old friend used to say, we are in the fluid present, where clear-sigtedness never guarantees perfect vision. Here: about two hundred feet, the height of a gliding eagle, above Wisconsin's far western edge, where the vagaries of the Mississippi River declare a natural border" and "Moving toward the sun, we glide away from the river and over the shining tracks, the backyards and roofs of Nailhouse Row..." -- Stephen King Black House

First person is the second step from the top on the difficulty ladder. For this reason I am forcing myself to do my current story in this manner, to push myself. Next is third person as you said. Very common, but can cause issues for the careless. Finally, third person omniscient is the easiest very commonly used. Because of its ease it can allow a righter to get carried away and give away too much, or cause him to hold back too much in fear of giving it away too soon.

I like third and first person best myself. As I said I'm currently using first as it is less common and forces me to keep on my toes which prevents the careless mistakes I might otherwise make.

You make a persuasive argument. And by that, I mean there are more of you and you are using that to coerce me into obeying your moral code. - Belkar

1st person

I tried to switch to first person narration a few times, but the results always read like a pale imitation of Charles Bukowski.


The problem when building suspense or mystery with an omniscient POV is that the obscurations or selective lack of view makes a story seem contrived and 'rigged'. Like The Da Vinci Code book: The teacher was siting right next to Silas in the car, and he happened to be a character that was already introduced into the story, and yet in the stupid book the narrator didn't let you "see" him! So it for me just popped you right on out of suspended disbelief.
So if one writes in an omniscient voice, there has to be some deeper logical reason why certain people/events/aliens/etc... can be seen and others can't.

I agree with the whole

I agree with the whole "sticking to the tense" comment; sometimes its easier said then done! I started writing with third person omni, only because I felt it gave such a wide range of possibilities.Although, that can be a trap. I am now intrigued by first persons ability to leave some guessing about other characters motives and emotions up to the reader, instead of having to explain them. I find first person somewhat difficult to write, compared to other POVs, but only because I am not used to it....I don't think I have a favorite POV, it seems that for different themes and plots, different POVs work better.