This is one of the most popular questions that always seems to creep up amongst authors. Which point of view should I write my novel in? First person? Third person? Or that mysterious second person? There isn’t one right answer for everyone. Each piece of writing is unique so determining which point of view, or the perspective from which a work should be told is also unique to each piece of writing. Each different point of view offers its own advantages and disadvantages that will help you determine which is right for you.
This is when the narrator of the story refers to him or herself and tells the story from their point of view. A lot of fiction is written in first person. First person is also the point of view used for anything autobiographical. Basically anytime you see the author using words like ‘I,’ ‘we,’ ‘me,’ and ‘mine’ the author is writing in a first person point of view.
- A lot of writers agree that first person feels natural because it mirror real life – we only know what’s going on in our own heads, not the heads of everyone around us.
- You only have to deal with what’s going on inside one person’s mind – the narrator’s.
- You can create a unique and distinctive internal voice. This can make it easier to express a character’s personality, world views, and opinions.
- You can have an unreliable narrator, for example, if the narrator misunderstands something or guess wrong, you are taken along for the ride.
- You are stuck writing only what the narrator can see, feel, and think.
- You can’t go inside the heads of other characters in the story.
- Your character has to be incredibly likeable and interesting or the audience my tire of them.
If the narrator is talking directly to the reader, it is written in second person. When you see the words ‘you,’ ‘yours,’ or the southern ‘ya’ll’ you are reading something written in second person (like this sentence). Second person is usually seen in blog posts, emails, and business presentations. Second person is generally avoided when writing fiction, mainly because of how difficult it is to pull off; at best there are a handful of short stories that are able to pull it off successfully, Bright Lights, Big City, by Jay McInerney is the most popular example.
- Want to stand out in the crowd? This is for you. Be that eccentric author who actually pulls it off and becomes the next McInerney.
- Perfect for blog posts, emails, and business presentations.
- It can be quirky, both writing it and reading it if it’s a longer piece.
- Most publishers will reject it automatically.
Third person is the most common point of view in fiction. Generally, if you see ‘he,’ ‘she,’ or ‘it’ you are reading something written in third person. Third person can generally be broken into two categories of omniscience: unlimited omniscience third person and limited omniscience third person. In unlimited omniscience the author can enter the minds of any character in any scene at any time. In limited omniscience the author can only enter the mind of one or very few characters in each chapter or scene.
- You can broaden the scope of your story by exploring differing and conflicting character points of view.
- Often considered the easiest point of view to write in because it is the least constraining.
- It’s possible to get lazy and find yourself drifting into first person point of view.
- There aren’t really any others.
If you really wanted to get complicated and wade around in the weeds you could break these into four or five different points of view, but the ones listed above are the most popular and widely recognized points of view. Whichever point of view you choose to use in your writing just remember to stick with it and not switch back and forth between them. Good luck and happy writing!