Points of View

When we pick up a few books and we turn the pages we may notice that there is something strikingly different about them.  A book or a story can be written from different perspectives.  You will need to decide how you are going to write your story before you start.  To give you an idea of the choice available to you take a quick look at the following brief descriptions written below:

  • First Person – Singular

The narrator is a character within the story and the story is told through the characters eyes only.  In this mode you cannot relate to events that happen outside of that characters viewpoint unless another character in the story relates it to them.  Writing in the first person feels more personal.

  • First Person – Plural

This point of view is rarely used.  The story is told by a collective consciousness or group of people by using the words ‘we’ or ‘us’.

  • First Person – Omniscient

The story is revealed through the eyes of a particular character.  They are also able to read the thoughts and feelings of other characters in the book.  This viewpoint is rarely used.

  • Second Person

The author uses ‘you’ and ‘your’.  It is very rarely used.  The narrator is speaking of the reader’s experiences. It’s a harder to accept as a reader.

  • Third Person

This is split into two categories which are subjective or objective.  Subjective describes the characters thoughts and feelings, whereas the objective doesn’t.  This point of view is the more versatile point of view by allowing you to create a richer and more complicated story.

Third person can also be split into:

Limited – This restricts the view to what happens to a specific character with in a story.

Multiple View point

The story is viewed through the eyes of specific people within the story.  Action and events can only be seen through their eyes.

Third-person – singular

This provides the greatest flexibility for the author and is the most popular point of view.  It uses the gaze of one character, but unlike the First Person (singular) point of view the author observes the character from an invisible point in the story.

Third-person – plural

See above – Uses the wording ‘they’.

Third-person – Omniscient

The story is told from the point of view of a narrator that plays no point in the story but knows everything about it.

When you first set out learning about the different points of view available to you it can seem a little confusing because there are so many.  The best piece of advice my tutor once gave me was to get myself down to the local library and pull out as many books as I could.  Then try to recognise what point of view each one was written in and make some notes on the different points of view that were available together with the most commonly used.  It was handy being in the library, if I got confused I could go and sit down at a quiet desk and refer to my notes that we had taken in class.  Also, a further bonus was that if I was still confused I could pull out a creative writing book whilst I was there to help me further.  It was one of the best and most enjoyable three hours I spent in the library, it helped me immensely.  When it came to giving critical feedback at the end of each lesson on my college buddies work I could identify better if they had accidentally used more than one point of view in their story.

As Stephen King once said ‘Read a lot and write a lot’ and by taking these words of advice, learning about the different points of view should all become clear.

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