When planning your book, choosing a point of view has a huge impact on you, your writing, and your reader.
In a nutshell, the point of view dictates how your reader is presented with the story. Changing your point of view changes what the reader knows.
There are various points of view to choose from and making that decision starts with a clear understanding of your options. So in this blog post, I’ll share different types of points of view along with some published examples.
What is point of view?
In the literary sense, point of view is best defined as who is telling or narrating the story. There are several different points of views to choose from:
First Person Point of View
This is the character telling the story using the words I, me, or we. This is often used in fiction, memoirs, and autobiographies.
In the memoir Thrive by Arianna Huffington, examples of this point of view can be seen in the text such as:
“I remember when we had just moved to Washington. I was completely preoccupied with decorating our new home and getting our two young children into new schools.”
It can also be plural, using we:
“At The Huffington Post… we do a lot to prevent burnout.”
First person point of view can limit you somewhat but it does provide a sense of intimacy with the reader.
Second Person Point of View
This is when the narrator is speaking directly to the reader using words such as you, your, and yours.
This is the least common point of view used in fiction, but you will see it in business and technical genres as well as personal development books.
An example can be seen in Mike Bayer’s Best Self:
“If your score indicates that you need to work on your listening skills, ask yourself why that might be the case.”
Third Person Point Of View
This is an external narrator telling the story and you will recognize it by the use of he, she, it, and/or they.
Third person is a popular choice and used in both fiction and academic texts. This point of view is further divided into three types:
Third Person Limited
This point of view follows only one person throughout the story, usually the protagonist. This gives the reader the ability to be inside the character's head so they know their thoughts and feelings.
An example of this can be seen in Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets where Harry is the one telling the story.
“He missed Hogwarts so much it was like having a constant stomach ache. He missed the castle with its secret passageways and ghosts, his lessons…”
The danger with third person limited is that it can get boring for the reader just being in one head all the time.
Third Person Multiple
Third person multiple, as its name suggests, is where third person is used for multiple characters. An example can be seen in my first novel, The Good Mother, where every chapter alternates between different characters, Kate, Alison, and Catherine. This approach gives you a fair amount of freedom but again you’re restricted to what is in the head of each character.
Third Person Omniscient
The omniscient narrator knows everything about everyone. It also knows everything about the world within the story. Nothing in the past, present, or future is off limits or hidden from view. The third person omniscient gives you a lot of freedom, because you aren’t limited to a single character’s perspective. However, it can also be confusing for a reader to switch between heads.
There are lots of examples of this point of view such as Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, and Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty.
So, which one should you use? How do you decide? In my digital course, KickStart Your Book With Karen, I take you through three steps to help you make this decision. For now though, a recommendation I have is whenever you next read a book, see if you can identify the point of view used and how it makes you feel as a reader.
RELATED POSTS: 5 Ways To Show Not Tell
If you haven't done so already, subscribe to this blog for more writing tips. I'm always adding new posts to the feed, so if you're not subscribed, there's a good chance you'll miss out. Subscribe now and get my FREE downloadable PDF, 5 Ways To Unleash Your Inner Author.
LEARN TO WRITE A BOOK