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The Three Points of View
A story can be written in several different ways. Writers usually calls this POV or Points of View. The POV is the voice of your story. Basically, how its written and who is telling it. Your story can be told by one character, multiple characters, or from every character.
These three ways have their own specifications (the use of certain words to refer to the character) and tone. The three POVs are 1st person, person, and 3rd person with 3rd person being broken down into 3 subcategories. These sub categories are 3rd person omniscient, 3rd person limited, and 3rd person objective.
1st person is the most basic type of point of view. The story is being told through the eyes of one character, who is usually the main character. The use of present tense words like “I” and “Me” is what lets the reader know the story is written in first person. The problem with first person is that you are limited to only one characters voice and as such, the view of one character is also limited. Most writers (I know of) don’t like to use 1st person because it does not set the voice of the story according to how they would like it. But it can make for great twists.
For example, there is a story I read where the readers were using the eyes of the main character to tell the story. Of course, because its first person the reader can only see what the character sees. At the end of the story there was a twist were the reader recognized that the main character did not remember certain events correctly. Because of that, there was this twist at the end where the main character was actually the villain of the story. However, the reader didn't know this because the voice telling the story believed that they were the hero.
2nd person is a point of view that uses the pronouns centered around the word “you” and the pronouns of the word "you". In this point of view is seems like the writer/character of the story is talking directly to the reader. As a result, they can pull the reader in and make them feel like they are apart of the story or the scene.
This point of view is like the author breaking through the 4th wall. However, writing in 2nd person can be challenging if using it for a long story. The only form of literature I believe this form is used in is self-help guides, guides in general, and how-to’s.
An example of this could be a cookbook. A cookbook is giving you instructions to cook a dish. In those instructions there is now use of "I". Instead, they will use the word "you".
3rd person is where, generally, the story writer is narrating the story about the characters. This point of view usually uses past tense words like “He” and “She” to refer to the character. There are 3 subcategories of this POV; 3rd person omniscient, 3rd person limited, and 3rd person objective.
- 3rd person omniscient is when the reader knows everything about the characters and the story. They know the thoughts, feelings, drives, and ambitions of all the characters in the scene. Think of it like your god. You know everything about the world, story, and the characters including what’s in their heads.
- 3rd person objective is written in past tense when referring to the characters but from a neutral observer. This type of point of view is like being an onlooker on a sidewalk watching the police show up to an accident on the highway.
- 3rd person limited is kind of like 1st person where the story writer is only using one person as the voice of the story. However, the story writer remains in third person by using the words “He” and “She”. With this form of 3rd person because you can really get inside the characters thoughts, feelings, and sensations. The reader will also get a better sense for that character.
- Narrative Perspectives: Types of Point of View By Linda Sarhan
Point of view refers to who is telling or narrating a story. Learn the basics of narration and how to choose or identify the type of point of view used in literature.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Erin Reynolds