Today, I’ll tackle a difficult topic for aspiring and experienced authors alike:
Are you excited? I am!
Let’s start with the basics. There are multiple points of views for you to choose; however, we’ll focus on making a decision between the third person omniscient, limited, and multiple and the first person points of views. Why? Because these four are the most used in novels (that I can see!). Also, they are my favorite, so I can talk about them.
But what are they?
The first person point of view is when we, the readers, experience the story through the character’s eyes. The character uses the pronouns ”I” and ”We” when describing things, people, and events to us. This is a hard one (but not impossible) to accomplish because the author needs to remove any proof of authorship, such as ”he said” and ”my eyes were gleaming with pride”. Why the second one? Simply because the character cannot see his/her own eyes! Unless they are staring at a mirror…
The third person limited point of view is when the narrator knows only what the character we are following knows. The narrator doesn’t give us much information besides what the (let’s call her ”main character”) main character can see, feel, touch, hear, and taste. For example, we cannot read about the other characters’ thoughts (unless the main character is psychic!) because they are out of the main character’s reach. This point of view uses ”he/she” to describe actions, characters, and events. It is also limited to only one character.
The third person omniscient point of view gives the narrator the right to use ”he/she” and to know everything about everyone and everything that’s happening in the story. The narrator is like God (or any deity of your choice), literally. It is infamous for being the ”lazy author’s point of view”, yet it is widely used in fiction.
The third person multiple point of view still uses ”he/she”, but the narrator can now switch between characters. The narrator’s challenge with this one is to make the switch obvious.
How to Choose
But how do you choose one point of view between so many possibilities? Here are my tips:
1- Trust your characters. Imagine them. Does one pop up the most? Does he/she have quite the personality? During the small exercise of imagining them, do you see glimpses of the story through their eyes or do you see your characters as though you were flying over them? If one character seems to always stand out and you have glimpses or scenes through their eyes, I’d say ”believe your character!” and go with that one using the first person point of view (like I did for Nightshade – Rosellia is so feisty!) OR the third person limited point of view. Now, how do you choose between those two? Simple: you write down a scene of your story using both points of views and you can decide which one you think suits the story the most. If you see the scenes or glimpses like you were a bird flying overhead and you know each and every character’s feelings and emotions, well, go with the third person omniscient point of view or the third person multiple point of view. The choice rests on your desire to use more characters more ”intimately” than just one.
2- Read different books with all those points of views. Then, you can settle on your favorite or use the one you think would benefit your story the most. You can also surf the Web to find short stories using those points of views.
3- Trust your guts. This one is a lot like trusting your characters, but this time it comes with the feeling you have inside you. Do you feel challenged enough to try first person or third person limited? Or do you prefer the good feeling using third person omniscient or multiple gives you? It all depends on how YOU feel about your story. What turns does it need to take? When imagining your story, do you see the road? Okay, it might be bumpy, but don’t care about that right now! Just focus on: a) is it going in different directions all the time? If so, try the third person multiple point of view.
b) does it play as though you’re a member of the audience? Try the third person omniscient point of view.
c) do you feel close to one character in particular? If so, can you see the road through their eyes or above their head? Try the first person and the third person limited points of view, respectively.
4- I know what I am going to say is scary, but it is useful as a last resort: tell your story to someone you trust, may it be a family member or a friend. But pay close attention to how you are telling it. If you keep on going back and forth between characters, it’s third person multiple. If you stick to one character only and focus on how they’re experiencing their journey, it’s first person point of view or third person limited (depending on which one suits your story the best!). Now, do you tell everything about everyone populating your story? If so, you have the third person omniscient point of view. The way you tell your story generally dictates how it needs to be written because it’s your subconscious’ means of telling you how you feel about it.
These were my personal tips (I use them in case the point of view didn’t jump at me when I first got the inspiration for my story, which it nearly always does). I hope they are helpful to you. If you also need help with confidence and self-esteem as an author, do click here for another writing tip.
Is it hard for you to find which point of view to use when starting a new story? If so, how come? If not, please do tell your way of making this crucial choice, I’d love to hear it!