Let’s play a quick game. Read the following two sentences. Both sentences tell the same story, but the way they are written has a different effect.
1. Jamie hated the way it tasted. He hated the way the taffy clung to his teeth, so he decided to give all of it to his little sister.
2. I like chocolate way more than any other candy. The taffy was very alright, but I felt bad that my sister didn’t get as much candy, so I gave her mine.
In both these quick stories, readers learn that Jamie gave his Taffy to his little sister, but the difference in point of view (POV) allows for a different level of intimacy and detail.
Point of view is perhaps one of the most important decisions an author makes when constructing a narrative. As a Writer’s Digest article puts it, “the narrator’s relationship to the story is determined by point of view.” It’s how the story is told – how personal and intimate the experiences of the main characters are in relation to the reader.
It can determine the amount of detail the reader is privy to at any given moment. The point of view has to be consistent throughout the story for a trusted, cohesive relationship between reader and narrator, narrator and story.
Certain POVs are accepted for certain types of writing. Research studies, news articles, and a large portion of books, both fiction and nonfiction, are written in some variation of third-person POV. This is because third-person POV offers a wider scope of character development, and it is more professional as it removes the narrator’s beliefs and opinions. Think – news anchor just reading news without discussion or dissection. So, what is writing in the third-person POV, really?
Third-Person Point of View
Broadly speaking, third-person writing refers to characters in the “he, she, they” perspective. The third-person omniscient POV gives the readers a God-like view of the story. The narrator knows everything about the character- their motives, thoughts, feelings, etc. Masterclass describes this as giving the reader “full access to the main character.”
Third-person limited POV is when the author focuses more heavily on one main character, but still in the third person. Here, the narrator is not in the characters’ mind, but brings the reader close to key characters, as if they were close friends. Lastly, we have a third-person objective POV, which distances the reader from the characters, as if they are constantly eavesdropping on the story unfolding in front of them.
Writers are wise to stick to one of the third-person POV variations when writing serious, objective narratives. However, with the advance of technology and social media platforms, everyone has the power to be a writer. Blogs and more personal, informal forms of publications tend to do better with the first-person point of view.
First-Person Point of View
First-person is how we speak to each other: “I am tired,” or “we should go to the beach.” First-person plural pronouns: we, us, our, ourselves, and first-person singular pronouns such as I, me, myself, are all used when we tell stories from our own point of view.
This POV in blogging and more informal publications is effective because it establishes a direct relationship between the writer and the reader. The writer is trusting the reader to understand, relate and connect with the ideas and opinions being told directly. First-person POV is straight-forward and friendly; It aims to appeal to the readers’ ethos.
The important thing to remember when deciding which point of view to write in is consistency. Decide what your goal is, and how you want your readers to relate to the story, and stay true to that throughout your narrative.
Bates, J. (2017, August 09). Why point of view is so important for novel writers. Retrieved March 11, 2021, from https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-fiction/point-view-important-novel-writers
First, Second, and third person. (2021, January 14). Retrieved March 14, 2021, from https://www.grammarly.com/blog/first-second-and-third-person/
MasterClass. (2020, November 08). 8 tips for writing IN Third-Person point of view - 2021. Retrieved March 11, 2021, from https://www.masterclass.com/articles/tips-for-writing-in-third-person-point-of-view#quiz-3
4 views1 comment