How to Choose POV in Fiction Writing

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  • Similar to First Person Protagonist, but the narrator is not the main character.
  • The focus is on the protagonist instead of the narrator.
  • Narrator has some role in the events other than simply observing them.
  • The narrator is close enough to see most of the events, but distant enough to maintain some objectivity.
  • Narrator has his own goals and encounters his own obstacles.
  • Narrator’s story is a subplot to the protagonist’s main plot.
  • Pros:
    • Makes a larger than life character fascinating rather than insufferable and annoying.
    • Gives the protagonist an air of mystery.
    • Allows information about the main character to be withheld.
    • Narrator can share insights into aspects of the main character’s personality that the main character isn’t aware of and are integral to the plot.
    • Narrator can describe events that the main character is unaware of or didn’t witness first hand.
    • Readers have a personal link to the story while being able to see the main character objectively.
    • Can be used if the protagonist dies.
  • Cons:
    • Can risk creating a main character that readers cannot warm up to or relate to.
    • Readers might not feel a direct emotional connection to the main character.
    • The main character can remain something of a mystery or an enigma.
    • Thoughts and feelings are interpreted by the narrator and may be biased.
  • Example: Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Great Gatsby by. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Moby Dick by Herman Melville



  • Narrator is not a character in the story.
  • Narrator is not a part of events and is on the outside looking in.
  • Events are related based on what the narrator sees.
  • Narrator provides his interpretation of the feelings and actions of characters.
  • Pros:
    • Can be used if the protagonist dies.
    • Information about the main character can be withheld.
  • Cons:
    • Can risk having a story that reads like a long news report.
    • Narrator’s interpretation of events, feelings, and actions are based only on what he sees.
    • Narrator may be unaware of events or feelings pertinent to the plot and/or main character.
  • Example: Luck by Mark Twain

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Amor Libris (Kelly Hartigan)

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