Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Point of View

I know I've been talking a ton about writing techniques lately, but I thought that with Camp NaNoWriMo going on, along with NaPoWriMo, that all the topics I've been approaching are things that could probably help you out.

That being said, today I'm going to talk about Point of View in narration.  There are four major types of POV: First person (I went to the store), second person (You are going to the store), Third person limited (We went to the store), and third person omniscient (Natalie went to the store, but Jed didn't want to.)

Not quite the Point of View I was talking about...

That's not to say there aren't other types of POVs, but those are the main ones, the ones that people usually use when they're writing stories.

Point of View can be used in a lot of interesting ways.  First person narration, for example.  If you've ever read Fight Club (or see the movie), it's all done in first person narration.  But the interesting thing about it, is because of that, we never actually learn the name of our main protagonist.  We hear ALL about Tyler Durden, but the person who is actually TELLING the story, never gets a name.

Some books trick you.  Gregory Maguire wrote a book, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, where we believe that the narration (which is third limited) is coming from one person, only to find out in the last chapter that the book was really from the POV of a completely different character.

Second person POV is rarely used, especially when it comes to books in English.  It's something that becomes a little more common in other languages.  That doesn't mean that authors don't do it however.  Here are just a few books that are in the second person that you may recognize: Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss (even the TITLE is in the second person); The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien (which, if you haven't read, you should because it's spectacular); Diary by Chuck Palahniuk (the same person who wrote Fight Club)

Third person POV is the one that is probably used most often.  Whether it be omniscient or not, it's the one that a lot of authors default to (especially new authors.)  If you are just starting out in the world of writing, this is the POV that I suggest.  Third person gives you a freedom that the other two don't.  Third limited will limited you (obviously, it's in the name) to being where the main character is, but it can give you a lot of other freedoms.  For instance, describing the things around the character, which isn't as easy to do in POV like first and second.

Honorable mention is third person limited, but with POV character shifts.  Probably the most notable book that does this is Game of Thrones.  Each chapter the reader sees only what's happening to that particular character.  However, each chapter is from the POV of a different character, giving us an odd Third Omniscient POV.  J.K. Rowling does the same thing in our book this week, A Casual Vacancy.

Know any books that do cool things with POV?  Let us know!


  1. I loved Confessions of An Ugly Stepsister. Much better than Wicked.

    1. Confessions was done SO much better, I thought. I don't know... he's very hit or miss. I really liked the Cowardly Lion book, but Snow White was soooooo awful I just couldn't stand it. Lost was... meh. I have one from him I picked up at the library used book sale, so we'll see how it goes.

    2. I actually liked the Snow White one, Mirror Mirror. I didn't read the other OZ based ones, or Lost. Anyway, I think this topic would good to re-hash if you guys decide to review The Night Circus. I'm reading it now, and its really great. She shifts POV throughout and it works really well.

    3. http://reviewmetwice.blogspot.com/2012/11/review-me-twice-night-circus-by-erin.html