Point of view: you are a camera

Only describe what the camera sees.

For this point of view, pretend you are a movie camera. You can only write what a camera would see/film (although you can use the five senses).  No going into any character’s thoughts and emotions. Everything must be shown externally in some way. There is an Ernest Hemingway story, Hills Like White Elephants, that is a good example of this POV. This is our example: George tipped his wine onto the white tablecloth. The red stain spread quickly, unlike blood. Jane had already run to the kitchen … [Read more...]

Second person – it’s all about “you”

two

When writing in second person, the pronoun used is you. Over and over. Whereas I in first person blends into the voice, you sticks out. Second person is tricky. It seems clever but is very difficult to pull off effectively. It works best in short stories, but there have been a couple of novels that have done well. I’d recommend a YA novel, Damage by A.M Jenkins, as a good example. Here is our sample in second person, where the you is George. Second person almost demands present tense, by the … [Read more...]

Omniscient: encompassing or head-hopping?

The all-seeing, all-knowing point of view.

Omniscient used to be the standard. It’s also known as eye of God, because the reader gets to see inside everyone’s heads and emotions. It also allows for a lot of description and detail. Back in the 1800s, it meant pages and pages of setting and description, but these days they’d be considered info dumps. It is tempting to load ominiscient POV with every single thing, but you need to choose carefully what will best serve your story. You also have to avoid head-hopping. Once you establish you … [Read more...]

Third person: how close can you be?

When your character is emotional, how will you show this?

There are several different terms for this POV but I use Third Person Intimate. It means that the story is told in third person (he or she) but is confined to one person’s POV. So I might have a story about Jane, George and Phillip but I tell the story through George’s POV only, using he, and cannot go into Jane or Phillip’s heads. E.g. George tipped his wine onto the white tablecloth. The red stain looked nothing like blood. Jane had already run to the kitchen for a cloth, but Phillip leaned … [Read more...]

Up close and personal: first person POV

I

This is the first in a short series on the different kinds of POV in writing, how they work and how you can use them to best effect. In simple terms, first person POV uses I, and the story is seen entirely through one character’s eyes, ears and emotions. So I might have a story about Jane, George and Phillip but I tell the story through George’s POV only, using I, and cannot go into Jane or Phillip’s heads. E.g. I tipped my wine onto the white tablecloth. I was right. The red stain … [Read more...]