The Power of Point of View
If you write much at all, you’ve probably run into issues within your writing. Maybe you realize that a character isn’t coming across the way he/she needs to. Maybe you run into a snag in the plot. Maybe you simply don’t know where the story is going. There could be any number of issues, and the ones mentioned above are not the only sources of frustration you will encounter. Regardless of the problem, there is one overlooked aspect to writing that has the potential to get your writing flowing again! Examining and reflecting upon point of view will not fix all of your creative writing woes, but it is a great place to start!
The Importance of Point of View
Your plot cannot progress where your point of view will not let it go. POV determines the way you will be able to write your story and, therefore, determines the ease of writing before you even begin. I always tell my students to be intentional with their POV choice before they start writing. If you choose the wrong POV for your story, it could make it difficult if not impossible to complete. You cannot effectively tell a story that requires multi-character complex thoughts with a layered plot in 1st person POV. You will block yourself into a corner with seemingly no way to move forward.
Readers will not be able to connect to your characters effectively if you try to write in the wrong POV. A story’s success is partly determined by how well readers connect to your characters. While I believe that each aspect of writing should be given proper thought and intentionality, I also realize that effective characterization can compensate for weaker story elements. If you can get a reader to care about your characters, relate to your characters, that is an invaluable success. Characterization and creating believable and relatable characters is not possible in the wrong POV. For instance, if you want readers to have an intimate, deep connection to one particular character and see only that character’s perspective, you really need to choose 1st person, or possibly 3rd person limited (written in a very specific and focused way in this case). Likewise, if you want to keep a character mysterious, 3rd person limited is the way to go because it can keep readers in the dark and slightly distanced! Need your readers to have a clear idea of an entire situation and all of the complex perspectives that go into it? Choose 3rd person omniscient.
How Can I Determine Which Point of View I Should Use?
- Ask yourself these questions before you begin writing:
- What is the purpose of your story?
- What effect do you want to have on the reader?
- What relationship do you want the reader to have with your character(s)?
- Will one character need to have more of a voice in this story than the other characters?
- Do you want an intimate feel, mysterious feel, or an all-knowing feel?
- Look at each Point Of View:
- 1st person:
- Only gives one perspective (perception vs. reality)
- Intimate (get to know 1 character really well)
- 2nd person:
- Difficult to pull off (especially in a full-length novel or anything with much length)
- Most examples are shorter pieces of work
- Gives some choice in the writing or some ownership since the audience is being directly addressed
- 3rd person:
- Clear distinction between author and characters… gives more freedom
- Can offer more insight
- Can move between situations with greater ease
- Can still get to know characters, but not as intimately as in 1st person
- 1st person:
Free Downloadable Activity on Practicing with Point of View
Practicing with Point of View: An Activity. Written By Jess Woods
Need some more insight into Point Of View? Read this blog: 6 Tips to Choosing the Right Point of View that gives a little more direction.
Jess Woods graduated from Indiana University with a degree in English Education. Upon graduating she taught in a public high school for three years before deciding to stay home with her children. Since 2013, she has been teaching middle school and high school English courses online. Jess is a life-long reader and writer. She comes alive in the company of words and music, and she has a passion for literature that reaches through every part of her being. She believes wholeheartedly that each person has a relevant voice and perspective, and she eagerly teaches her students to embrace their individual voices by exploring their own thoughts and learning to confidently articulate them. It is her desire to encourage growth in all students (regardless of their love for English courses…or lack thereof). She considers it a tremendous success if she can awaken a love of literature and/or composition in her students. Jess currently resides in Alabama with her pastor-husband, Josh. The couple has three children, two dogs, and two cats. While reading and writing are clearly on the top of her hobby list, Jess also enjoys all things musical, cooking competition shows, hiking, running, and traveling.