Every week I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. This week I am taking a look at Writing Viewpoints.
Below is an excerpt from my book TR
Independent Books Guide to Writing:
Viewpoint or Point of View is extremely critical to your story. The
Point of View allows the reader to experience someone else’s view of the world.
The POV often determines whether a story is successful or not.
Before looking at the viewpoints let me give you another related principle: Make sure your reader knows when the character is thinking and when he is speaking. And try to avoid ‘he thought’ or ‘she thought’. While occasionally using such phrases is fine, too much of it can create a stilting effect. At the same time you want to keep the identity of the speaker before the reader. This can be done by occasionally having one speaker identify the other, such as ‘James, that’s wrong’. The reader knows it is not James talking.
We are going to take a look at two POV (Point of View). These are 1st
Person and 3rd Person.
This is essentially the personal pronouns “I”, “Me”, “Mine”. The POV
is from the speaker. He/she tells the story from his/her perspective.
Personally, I don’t like this POV but I have read some excellent books using
There are a few advantages to this viewpoint, such as:
- Instant involvement: Because the reader is inside the
character’s head all thoughts and actions are immediately known. There is no
- Language: Because the reader is inside the head and knows the thoughts of the
character the reader is able to instantly know the education, and class of the
- Range: How the character thinks. The reader learns a great deal about the
character because every facet of his/her thinking is open to the reader.
But there are also disadvantages; such as:
requires the presence of the character
in all scenes. This can cause
difficulty in overall structure and the story itself. But it can be done as
witnessed by successful writers.
character can’t keep secrets from
the reader. If the character knows something, we do also, which leaves off any
mystery you may want.
- You cannot include any information that the character doesn’t know. In other
words, you know only what the character knows. No more and no less.
“I” becomes both you and the character.
This can be troubling.
- Limited view. Since you only know what the character
knows there is a whole world of unknowns.
First Person, in my opinion, is harder to write and to pull off. Some
authors do and succeed quite well. But it can be unwieldy. Therefore, unless
you have a great deal of experience in writing, I would recommend you stay away
Third Person, in my opinion, is the preferred method to use. It is the
personal pronoun “he”, “she” or “it” viewpoint.
The advantages of this POV are:
- An outside view of the person
the narrator, can talk about other
facts, events and people.
can have additional characters in
can have other POV characters.
- Unlimited worldview: In the first person you were restricted
by the author’s or character’s thoughts and opinions.
in third person the narrator and reader
have access to other information – thus expanding the scene.
- Greater objectivity – in first person you only have the
character’s opinion of self, but in third Person you see much more and can make
- Hidden information – In the third person the author can keep
some of the facts about the character secret until later in the story. Then as
the story unfolds the author can divulge pertinent and new information about
But there are disadvantages. These include:
- separated involvement.
- With first person you had instant involvement, but here there
exists separation or distance between the character and the reader.
- It is more difficult to identify the class and education of the character.
- Awkward. The thinking, etc, is not as visible as
it is with first person.
Tip#1: Choose your POV carefully. 1st person identifies with character; 3rd
person identifies with multiple characters.
Tip#2: When conveying a character’s thoughts put it in italics. Not a hard rule but I recommend it.
Person: I thought to
myself, What a wonderful day!
- Third Person: He looked about, smiling. What a wonderful day!
Be careful with your POV. It is very easy to forget which POV you are
using. The result can be disastrous.
I do not recommend First Person, although
many authors have done so successfully. It takes a lot of hard work and skill.
And in my opinion it is too limiting. But if you choose this POV then pay close
attention, follow the rules carefully, and stick with it. You just might be one
of those successful writers!
Be aware that there are many variations of first and third person viewpoints. I recommend you buy a good reference book on the subject. There are many resources, including Writers Digest.
To learn more about writing viewpoints or POVs TR Writing Services is currently giving away – that’s right, it’s FREE! – our TR Guide to Writing. Simply contact us and request a copy (PDF or docx) and we’ll send it to you. While at it, why not request the TR Writing Service booklet? This booklet will tell you about our different plans and prices. (The current discounted plans expire June 30th.)
For more on TR Writing Services contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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