How to Choose POV in Fiction Writing

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Point of View (POV) Flowchart to help choose POV in writing.

 

Point of View, or POV, is the perspective from which your story is told. The POV you choose depends on many factors including how many main characters are in the story, how close you want readers to be to the protagonist, and what information you want readers to have access to.

Choosing “the right” POV is more than a technical decision. The POV you choose can make the difference between a story that “speaks” to readers and a story that readers don’t become engaged with. In short, the POV a writer chooses can make or break a story.

The POV you choose can make the difference between a story that "speaks" to readers and a story that readers don’t become engaged with. Click To Tweet

Choosing the POV can be one of the most important decisions a writer makes beside choosing the protagonist. Each POV has advantages and disadvantages. The best POV will be more obvious in some stories than others. Your chosen POV will have direct impact on the pacing, format, and suspense of your story. The POV will dictate the pronouns used, how much of the protagonist’s thoughts readers can see, determine the importance of the narrator, determine the importance of characters versus events, and position readers within or outside the story.

Choosing the POV can be one of the most important decisions a writer makes beside choosing the protagonist. Click To Tweet

Before deciding which POV is right for your story, you need to understand the different types of POV and what they can do for your story. The "Point of View Flowchart" shown below can be used as a starting point in choosing the best POV for your story.

Descriptions and pros and cons of the viewpoints depicted in the POV flowchart are given below the image.

POV Flowchart to help writers choose the point of view in fiction. First person narrative. Third person narrative. Choosing narrative voice.

 

FIRST PERSON POV
(Identified by the pronouns I, me, my, mine, we, us, and ours)

FIRST PERSON PROTAGONIST

While First Person Protagonist is from the POV of one character, a variant of this POV can be used with multiple main characters. If this is done, the same character should be the narrator for an entire scene or chapter, as switching to the POV of another character within the same scene is considered "head hopping."

  • Perspective of one of the characters in the plot—usually one of the main characters.
  • The character will often narrate the story in a similar way to which he talks but with more description and often better grammar.
  • Narrator is relating the story of something that happened to him personally.
  • Pros:
    • Easier to keep the secrets of other characters from the reader.
    • Readers are able to experience events that happen to the character first hand through the character, as though it’s happening to them.
  • Cons:
    • Difficult to keep secrets about the POV character from the reader.
    • Difficult to describe events that don’t happen directly to the reader.
  • Example: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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5 comments

I’m really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one nowadays..

I have been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this website. Thank you, I will try and check back more often. How frequently you update your website?

Amor Libris (Kelly Hartigan)

Rich, I try to add at least one or two new blog posts per week.

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