Point of view: you are a camera

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”

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?

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?

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

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...]

Why is Point of View important?

For a long time, writers commonly used a point of view that we now most often call omniscient (also called eye of god or camera). It was the POV that saw everything, often in great detail, and rather than dwell on one character, took us into every major character in the story. There was a lot of setting, a lot of authorial intrusion (the author explaining stuff to the reader in various ways) and even times where the reader was directly addressed. More and more now, stories are told in … [Read more...]