POV expanded

POV means point of view. I probably should have added it to one of my random writing definitions. Oops. I wrote a short POV post a while ago. But it was incomplete.

Point of view brings out the question of narrator.

Narrator isn’t necessarily a character an author spent time on. Yet in all cases, the narrator exists and matters.

Who are they? Where are you? Can they access inside a character’s head? What information do they have? More than what’s readily available to the characters?

The narrator doesn’t normally have the same questions as a character. We have no need for a name or looks. Their background, history, and future typically doesn’t matter.

Our questions lean on what do they see, hear, feel, have access to, etc.

First person: The main character is the narrator. This POV uses “I” and “we” in mental statements. We only see the world from their perspective and view. This means the story can be written as if we are the main character.
I use first person when multiple entities use the same body (my werewolves) or when I don’t want extra possible information or when there is clearly one main character.

Second person: “You”, generally the reader, are included in the story. You are actually the narrator of the story. These are rare.
Second person POV is best left to kid’s books and Choose Your Own Adventure books. It’s not impossible to write, but highly suggested not to.

Third person limited: The most popular option. This is what most books use. The narrator is a legit character, but only has one view: the main character’s. I consider them like a spirit, ghost, or angel hovering over the MC gaining insights and slightly different POV than the MC. Very slight. Basically unnoticeable.
The main difference between 3rd limited and 1st is you don’t need to fully fall into the MC to write. First person requires you to become the character. This gives you a one step back while offering no limits with the character’s view.

If the third person limited narrator is an actual character, it’s technically a first person POV, but special. It’s called first person peripheral. You’ll get a first person narrative, but without all the details of the main character, yet the story is completely about the MC. You really don’t need to remember this.

Third person multiple: When you have several main characters or important characters, third person multiple is the best option. It’s best to have a clear understanding who you are following at any given time. Start a new paragraph when you switch people. Or look on as all of them at once, given everyone must know the information. Think of it as a ghost following this group on an adventure. A ghost with no awareness of themself.

Third person omniscient: This is the god POV. The narrator has access to everything and everyone. They know all. For an author, it has almost an open sandbox allowance for writing. Many first time writers think this is the easiest to write, since they can write anything about anything and have it be workable. But there is a reason most games that offer open sandbox options don’t do so until you finish the game.
I’m not sure when the god narrator works best. I would say when it’s a world adventure between many different groups and characters. It’s hard to pull off.

Alongside POV is verb tense. There are two options (generally) with verb tense: past and present. Whichever one you pick, stick with it.

Readers and writers typically prefer third person limited past tense. If you can’t decide up front, I’ll suggest starting there. Some stories don’t work well with third person limited or past tense. Some need a particular option.

Writers all have a favorite option. Yes, we switch out for different books. Yes, we end up rewriting a story to fit a better option. We just preference one.

I prefer writing first person present tense. Leagende is written in third person limited.

You get to decide. You can change your mind. It’s fine. Try different options out. Practice. Weigh each option carefully.

You can even take a scene and write it in the different options to figure out which works best.

Any further questions on POV, ask.

What’s your favorite POV?
What’s your favorite book of a particular POV?


[About Cat Hartliebe] [Writer’s Stuff]

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