How to Choose the Right Point of View
Tips to help you choose the best point of view for your novel
“I moved through the alleyway until I came across the figure lying on the ground. She had crouched down to examine the small face. You must have put it there.”
If there was ever one thing I learned during my creative writing classes in college, it was that I tend to switch my point of view mid-work. (As well as change tenses.) Thankfully not as dramatic as the example above, but I would be halfway through a chapter and suddenly switch from first to third without realizing it until the paper was returned to me with many angry red marks on it.
The point of view or the narrative voice your story is told through is one of the most important parts of your story. It helps you determine the intimacy your reader is going to be sharing with your main character.
- Are we in their head with every thought and feeling?
- Do we know what everyone is thinking and feeling?
- Are we in the story itself?
Figuring out which point of view is right for your story before you start writing it will help you immensely instead of bouncing around between them and having to spend hours more editing it into your final choice on top of all the other hours you’ll already have to spend editing.
How to Choose a Point of View
Before you can choose the one that is right for you, you need to know the options.
- First (I and Me)
- Second (You and Your)
- Third (he, she, they, him, her)
- Fourth (us, we, our)
In the first person, everything is “I.” I felt, I heard, I smell.
This narration style will be the one you choose if you want your reader to be in your story intimately. It is character-driven narration, if your character doesn’t know it then neither does your reader.
The second person’s point of view is rare to find in fiction unless you are looking for a choose-your-own-adventure novel where “you” are the main character choosing your actions. If this is the case for the story you are writing then this will be perfect for you.
Third-person narration is the most popular when it comes to fiction but there are different types.
Omniscient a “know-it-all” narrator. Can see inside multiple characters’ heads.
For this narration style, your narrator is a spectator floating above your story. They know what everyone is thinking and feeling at any time.
Close (or limited) your narrator can only see inside one character’s head.
For this narration style, your narrator is in your story and your reader only knows what they know or feel.
Which point of view is right for your novel?
When selecting the point of view for your novel there are a few things you need to know about your story.
- What genre are you writing in?
- What age group are you writing for?
- Do you want to be the character or observe the character?
Most of the time points of view can come down to just being whatever your personal preference is, but you should also take into consideration the common choices for the genre and age you are writing.
Truly there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a point of view for your story and no matter what it’s not a permanent decision since you can always change it.
If you’re still not sure which point of view you would like to write, try to find a novel that is similar to yours and see what point of view it is told through and try that one or try them all!
Take a scene from your novel and write it over again from another point of view. Is there one that is easier for you to write or fits your story better?
Best of luck and keep writing!
B.K. xo xo
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About the Creator
Barbara King is a full-time writing coach and novelist. King is a recent college graduate from Southern New Hampshire University where she earned her BA in Creative Writing.
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