As mentioned in my previous post about making lists, I will be addressing each point individually in order to explore them in further detail. The first item I will discuss is one that I have personally had issues dealing with in the past.
The points of view (or PoV) are the angles from which the story may be told. These different perspectives are the voice in which the narrator presents the story to the readers. Though a story can be told from any of several PoV, it is important to remain consistent in order to avoid annoying or confusing the reader. Furthermore, be sure to consider which type of narration you feel comfortable with and will best fit your project.
Following are the different Points of View:
A story told in the first person point of view is when the narrator is involved in the action of the story. First Person Point of View stories usually feature pronouns such as I, me, mine, our, we, us, etc. This helps create an immersive experience, tailored to reflect the personality or background of the narrator.
The POV character can only share what they can perceive with their senses. Therefore if, for whatever reason, your chosen narrator is in a position where they cannot see, hear, smell or feel, then this fact should be reflected in the details of the story. As the author, we must also realize that the first person PoV narrator cannot perceive the thoughts or feelings of another character.
It is important to remember that the details of your story must be filtered through the storyteller, not the author. Avoid telling the story to the reader and concentrate on showing it.
The Second Person Point of View places the reader as the narrator of the story. In a tale narrated in the second person, characters will refer to the storyteller as "you". When handled properly, this approach creates an intimate experience by including the reader in the story. Descriptions perceived in Second Person PoV are based on what the reader would see if they were present in the setting, performing the actions.
The author may decide to use this viewpoint to address the audience directly. This is to be used sparingly, because it risks pulling the audience out of the story, destroying any sense immersion.
This narrative option is normally used for non-fiction novels, explanatory articles, self-help books and advertizing. Although it is very rare to see works of fiction be written in the second person, there have been exceptions, such as “choose your own adventure” types of books or short stories.
In the Third Person Point of View, the narrator is not present in the story as one of the characters. This PoV generally uses pronouns such as he, she, it, they, them, him, her, its and so on to tell the story. Third person is the most common choice as it allows the reader to know exactly how the characters feel and what goes on in their heads.
With Third Person Point of View, the author has the option of telling the story through just one character, or rotate between two or more characters.This freedom makes it a bit easier when it comes time to tell your tale, as the possibilities are virtually endless.
Additionally, third person narration can be further divided into three categories:
- Objective: the story is told with minimalistic information, limited to only what could be perceived by the five senses.
- Omniscient: the story is told from a “God-like” perspective, allowing the reader to see all details, including the thoughts and feelings of all characters in play.
- Limited Omniscient: the story is told from a “God-like” perspective, allowing the reader to see all details, including thoughts and feelings, but is limited to only one character within the story.
Similarly to Third Person, the Omniscient Viewpoint is not present in the story. This “God-Like” PoV will also use pronouns such as he, she, it, they, them, him, her, its and allow the audience to see inside the characters heads.
However, there are distinct differences between the two. Whereas the Third Person Omniscient can see everything happening in the current story, the true Omniscient PoV is not limited to the storyline, and has the added benefit of seeing information from the past or from the future.
This narrative option is useful for complicated storylines which explore several tangled subplots. However, It is essential that the author remain clear when using this PoV, as it can be difficult for the reader to keep track of who or where all the information is coming from.
In a story told in the Limited Omniscient Point of Viewpoint, the reader is allowed to see all details in the setting. These details include thoughts and feelings, but is limited to only one character within the story.
Similarly to the Omniscient Viewpoint, the Limited Omniscient viewpoint is not restricted to the currently timeline in the story. This point of view can see information from the selected characters personal history, be it past or future.
The Limited Omniscient Viewpoint offers the “all seeing eye” perspective of the true Omniscient Viewpoint, while making it easier to follow for the reader by having less sources where the information is being generated from.
Other known styles and variations:
- Major Character Viewpoint: can be told from the first, second or third person, but is restricted to the main character. The reader learns information at the same pace as the viewpoint character.
- Minor Character Viewpoint: can be told from the first, second or third person, but is restricted to an observer who is not the main character.This allows the author to keep information known by the main character secret from the reader.
- Rashomon Viewpoint: can be told from the first person by two or more characters,who are describing contradictory interpretations of the same event.
- Sequential Multiple Viewpoint: The story is told by only one character at a time, but the PoV can switch between several characters with alternating chapters or scenes.
- Separate Multiple Viewpoints: can be told from the first, second or third person by two or more characters who seem to have no direct relation to each other, but reach the same conclusion.
As you can see, there are many variations which can alter your story, giving it a unique focus. In order to find the perspective which would best suit your style, it is suggested you write a short story using several points of view before you settle on the one you are most comfortable with. This is important to remember, because the author will need to remain consistent throughout the story with whichever viewpoint they have selected. Consistency facilitates immersion, and allows the reader to become a part of your world.
That is all for this lesson, join me next time when I take a deeper look at genres.
Until then, Cheers!
(edited on 2015-10-05)