“Who’s talking now?” That’s a question you don’t want the readers of your novel to be asking. In novel writing, the different perspectives from which a story can be relayed are known as types of point of view. In this section about novel writing, we will look at the top 4 types of point of view (POV) and how to select the best one from which to write your novel.
Top 4 Point of View Options of Novel Writing
- First person
- Third person, subjective
- Third person, objective
- Omniscient observer
- A first-person point of view would read like this, “I traveled up the tree and down again in 60 seconds.” This point of view allows for only one perspective and everything the reader learns about the story comes from that perspective. The storyteller is allowed to reveal only her own thoughts and feelings. The feelings and thoughts of any other character are only exposed to the reader through that character’s dialogue or actions. The storyteller cannot get into the other character’s heads and can only reveal what she thinks and feels. She can have impressions of other characters, but that’s all.
- A third person, subjective, point of view would read like this, “She traveled up the tree and down again and was sure she’d done it within 60 seconds.” This perspective is from the gal who climbed the tree, but it can occasionally shift to other characters. Using this type of point of view allows more characters to think and feel. This way of writing can be used with either a third person singular or third person multiple (or changing) perspective.
- A third person, objective, point of view would read like this, “She traveled up the tree and down again, and the stopwatch showed 60 seconds.” This perspective is still third person but their objective is like watching the action through a camera lens; the narrator’s thoughts and feelings are not important or included in the story. The objective third person can describe only those things that can be outwardly heard or seen. In learning this type of point of view, I found it easier to think of the narrator as a third person who is not in the story.
- An omniscient observer point of view would read like this, “Everyone gathered around the tree, some begrudgingly so. And while Sara was wondering if she could climb the tree faster than Travis, Travis was sure she didn’t have it in her.” This type of storyteller is like God – they know everything: what all the characters think, feel, and do. The storyteller’s own thoughts and feelings are not important to the story. I like to think of this type of point of view as third person, not in the story, who knows everything.
Which Point of View Best Serves Your Novel?
How do you choose the best point of view for your novel? Your decision about which point of view to use could vary with each novel that you write. Each type of point of view has its pros and cons, and it is helpful to consider them when making a choice. For example:
- The first-person point of view is often used when the motives of anyone but the narrator need to be kept from the readers. It’s often used in mysteries, but these types of point of view are very limiting in terms of revealing anyone but the narrator’s feelings and thoughts.
- The third person, subjective with multiple points of view, is advantageous in giving the lead character’s perspective the majority of the time while occasionally hearing from other characters. It adds a richness to the story that is hard to get to with a first-person point of view. However, if the change in point of view is not handled well, the story can become confusing to the reader.
- The third person, objective, point of view allows the narrator to sort of stand back and tell the story, perhaps getting out of the story’s way, but it is limiting in that the storyteller can only relay what she hears and observes.
- The omniscient observer point of view gives a wide range of perspectives but it’s difficult to keep the reader oriented to whose perspective they’re reading – and you don’t want the reader thinking about this.
Types of Point of View – Close In On Your Options
To help you decide which type of point of view will work best for your story, think about what would be the best vantage point for writing the story scenes that best portray your lead character’s traits, the conflicts they will encounter, and the resolution(s) they will eventually achieve. Make a choice about which type of point of view you are going to use to tell the story and stick with that choice throughout the novel.
You could choose any of the types of point of view – the only thing that truly matters is that readers can always discern who is speaking and thinking; if that fails the entire novel fails.
I would love to hear from you! Which is your preferred POV for writing your novel? How about when reading a novel? They could be different.
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