Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Editing Tips: Point of View


What Point of View (POV) do you usually write in? First person, Third? Do you prefer the omniscient POV (i.e. the narrator knows everything that is going on with their characters ... feelings, thoughts, motivations, backgrounds) or do you prefer to not go 'there' and let the characters' actions speak for themselves.

I, myself, prefer to write in First person POV. It feels more intimate to me and I find it easier to stay in one person's head instead of switching voices and perspectives. Of course, this type of POV has its limitations, for example, you're stuck with that character. If something else is happening in another room, your character can't observe it if she's not in that room.

I've come across various techniques that authors use in terms of POV to tell their story. I quite like the way 'A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire' is written, with every chapter in the head of a different character. It works, and the reader can be all over the world and not just stuck in one character's head. Then again, if an author is to use this type of POV technique, the characters need to be well fleshed out and interesting enough that the reader will care about their POV.

POV can be tricky to work with though. I've read the work of some authors who write in Third person and every paragraph seems to be in a different POV. This can work if there is some type of pattern, or consistency, but if not handled with care it can become very confusing to read. My advice to beginner writers ... if you're not sure, then stick to only one character's POV, usually the character who has the most to lose, which is probably your protagonist.

Some POV Tips:
  • Don't jump from what one character is thinking to what another character is thinking... usually this doesn't work because if the reader think she's reading from the POV of one character, to know the other character's thoughts doesn't seem believable--i.e. can character number 1 mind read? 
  • If you have to change POVs in the middle of a chapter, try to do so with a page break to clearly indicate that a scene is over so you can start fresh in another character's mind.
  • Try to write from the POV of the character who has the most to lose in the scene because it will raise the stakes and most likely engage the reader more.
That's all for now. See ya next Wednesday!


  1. I, too, prefer to write in 1st person, but make a point every now and then of writing in the 3rd person because I find it more difficult and want to perfect the art! I find my writing has more feeling in 1st person and seems more stilted in 3rd person. Interesting post!

  2. My writing feels more stilted in 3rd person too. I am currently having a heck of a time writing a particular short story in 3rd person POV. Thanks for your comment!