How to Choose Your POV

So we’ve talked about POV (point of view) before, but it’s a complicated matter, so let’s talk about how to choose the right POV for your story. POV is a big decision to make. It literally affects every single sentence you write and choosing the right POV can make or break the success of your story.

First, let’s do a quick overview of each POV (we won’t be talking about second because it isn’t commonly used for longer stories).

  • First person POV: Uses the “I” pronoun. This is the closest relationship between character and reader. This POV allows for easy access to the POV character’s thoughts and feelings. This can lead to more telling than showing. It can also be hard to describe characters and places familiar to the character, since we don’t overly describe people and places we know well. Also, the reader only knows what the POV character knows, sees, or hears. Watch out for unlikeable narrators.
  • Third person limited: Uses “s/he” pronouns or names. Similar to first person as you have access to the character’s thoughts and feelings and the reader only knows what the character knows, sees, or hears. Readers are very familiar with third person, so it’s comfortable for them to read. And it’s easier to switch POVs in third and still follow along (without head hopping). Watch out for info dumps.
  • Third person omniscient: Uses “s/he” pronouns or names. Omniscient is a complicated POV to use, so I wrote a whole post about it here. Creates the most distance between character and reader, but is all knowing. Watch out for head hopping.
  • Third person multiple: Uses “s/he” pronouns or names. Is the third person limited POV, but from various character POVs. Watch out for head hopping.

Most writers have a favorite POV they tend to use. Personally, I like to write in third person limited to avoid annoying narrators. But choosing the right POV comes down to a number of factors. Is your story character driven or plot driven? If your story focuses on one character and is character driven, first person is a great POV to use. You can get in depth with their thoughts and feelings and really develop your character. However, if your story revolves around a cast of characters and is more plot driven (actions happening to the characters), then a third person POV is a great way to go. You can switch from one character’s POV, like in multiple, to another’s as needed. Another thing to keep in mind is your strengths as a writer. If you’re not very good at writing in a certain POV, you don’t want to choose that POV for your novel. I recommend writing short stories in each POV to improve your skills.

Which POV do you prefer to use? Share below and happy writing!

Julia

Follow my column at Our Write Side and Twitter for more writing tips and inspiration. Find me on Facebook for weekly prompts.

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