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How to Choose POV in Fiction Writing

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THIRD PERSON OBJECTIVE OBSERVER

In this POV, the narrator, or observer, is detached and never inserts his opinion. Think of the narrator as a documentary camera that unobtrusively follows the main (viewpoint) character everywhere. This camera presents all events the character is a part of, but never sees inside this character or any other character’s mind.

Unlike Third Person Omniscient, the narrator is virtually invisible. No information other than what the camera sees is given to readers. No interpretations of actions, emotions, or thoughts are given. The reader must form his own opinion.

  • Opposite of True Third Person Omniscient.
  • The narrator can only describe what happens and what a character does.
  • The narrator can never describe what a character thinks or feels.
  • Emotions and thoughts of characters must be inferred through action and dialogue.
  • Gestures and actions that indirectly show how a character feels, thinks, and deals with internal conflict must be described.
  • Pros:
    • Makes it difficult to "tell" emotions rather than "show" emotions.
    • Easy to keep information from readers.
    • The distance can be an advantage when the focus is on the events, not the characters.
  • Cons:
    • Readers lose a direct link with characters.
    • The least emotionally engaging POV.
  • Example: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

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8 comments

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Amor Libris (Kelly Hartigan)

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

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