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For Aspiring Writers

Point of View: Whose Story is it to Tell?


The point of view of the story makes a very big impact on the reader. A lot of the time it does depend on how will the writer executes it, but it also depends on the plot and characters.

First Person

Example: I paced along midnight roads, my fear choking my breath rather than my running.

Advantage: The first person helps intensify emotion because of the personal insight.

Disadvantage: You are limited to writing about one character’s experiences only.

Works best: When there is one very defined protagonist rather than an ensemble cast

Second Person

Example: You pace along the midnight roads, fear choking your breath rather than the running.

Advantage: Works wonderfully well for ‘choose your own adventure’ stories and in experimental fiction, such as flash fiction

Disadvantage: Can intimidate or shake off the reader, because the repetition of ‘you’ following a verb is telling the reader to do something, and nobody likes doing what they’re being told.

Third Person Limited

Example: Gretchen paced along the midnight roads, fear choking her breath rather than the running.

Advantage: This is the most common used point of view and often the easiest to master. It involves telling the story through the eyes of the lead and does not shift to any other character throughout.

Disadvantage: You are limited to writing about one character’s experiences only.

Works best: When there is one very defined protagonist rather than an ensemble cast

Third Person Omniscient

Example: Gretchen paced along the midnight roads, fear choking her breath rather than the running.

***

Callum reached the answering machine for the third time and then threw the phone across the room. “Come on, Callum,” Sarah said, pulling his hand in hers. “Let’s go upstairs.”

Advantage: This has the benefit of showing the reader what is happening with other sub-plots and lesser characters before the hero knows about it. It also offers the opportunity to allow the reader to see inside the villain’s plans for your protagonist.

Disadvantage: You may confuse your reader if you switch perspectives more than once in any given scene.

Works best: With an ensemble cast

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6 thoughts on “Point of View: Whose Story is it to Tell?

  1. Whitney Rains on said:

    Great post!

  2. This is so helpful. When I started writing stories, I generally wrote in the third person limited. But now I write in the third person omniscient. People who read my pieces say that I have a natural ability to write that way without confusing. That may be true, but I think it has a lot more to do with practice and thoughtful editing. Thanks for sharing!

    • I’m sure it is true, but it’s also great you want to keep practising at it, which will only help you master that skill. I think it does take a talented writer to write in the third person omniscient, so good on you for getting compliments on that. I think for the reason that my stories tend to be focused around one character in specific, I work best in limited, but it’s interesting to see other writers have different preferences.

      Thanks so much for commenting ;D

      ~ JLT

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