The Versatile Point of View

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When you write a novel, or revise a novel, the default point-of-view and the most common used is third person. (Though, first person point of view is giving it a run for its money these days. )

The Versatile Point of View

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/3943853965/Think about point of view as a camera. In the 3rd person POV, the camera is above a person’s head and you see and hear and experience only what that character can see, hear, experience. That’s pretty easy. The tricky part is the emotional distance of the text. That is, are you so closely aligned with the character that you can say their thoughts and the reader understands that it is the character’s thoughts.

It’s like zooms and pans. With 3rd person, there are times when the POV backs up and gives an overview of the action, a panorama, and almost verges on crossing into an omniscient voice. At other times, the POV goes so tight and deep, a zoom, that you’re close to the 1st person POV.

Which is why I like 3rd person POV. It can very close to omniscient, yet, the next page, very close to 1st and still work. In fact, you can actually cross over into omniscient and it works smoothly and seamlessly. You can’t quite cross over into 1st, but you can create a close imitation. It’s the most versatile POV.

Read more of 15 Days to a Stronger Character.

1 Comment
  • Bonnie Belknap
    November 1, 2011

    In the notes about “third person” pov, I got a little help. But, I’m still not there yet. I’m writing a novel in omnicient (spelling?) POV, and my critique group keeps accusing me of “jumping around” as to POV. But, if you are “all-knowing”, then aren’t you going to be able to be jumping around in people’s heads. In A Woman of Substance, Bradford did that all the time.