Point of View (POV) is an extremely important part of any story. It determines how the reader perceives the plot, the setting, everything. As such, choosing the proper POV for your story is vital. Hopefully, this post will help you be able to do that.
First Person allows you to see through the eyes of a specific character and be inside their head. First Person stories use phrases like, “I found myself falling deeply in love with this Gaelic speaking Highlander even though I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. In fact, that might have been why I fell in love with him to begin with”. First Person is typically used in situations where we need to be in the protagonist’s head and have a very intimate understanding of their thoughts and feelings. Romance stories probably use First Person most often.
Examples: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dies at the End by David Wong, and The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer.
Second Person is a POV that is very rarely used in fiction. Second Person uses the word “you” as its main pronoun. For instance, “You find yourself surrounded by oppressing white cinderblock walls in a place where you are one of many, all seen as shapeless clay to mold. Not a prison, but worse. A public school”. Second Person is mostly used in Choose Your Own Adventure stories and isn’t really seen as a POV that should be used in other kinds of writing.
Examples: Choose Your Own Adventure stories
Third Person Limited:
Now, Third Person is a POV that is split into two separate categories. Third Person Limited is often thought to be the easiest of the three POVs that are actually used (First Person, Third Limited, and Third Omniscient). The pronouns used are third person pronouns, such as “he”, “she”, and “it”. With Third Person Limited, the reader is sort of like a camera that follows a character along as they go along on their adventure, but the camera can occasionally dip into the thoughts and feelings of that character. Whereas First Person is better suited to show the feelings and emotions of the POV character, Third Person Limited is more useful for describing action.
Examples: Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan, and Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
Third Person Omniscient:
Third Person Omniscient is widely regarded as the hardest POV to write from of the three that are actually used. Just as with Third Person Limited, the pronouns used are third person pronouns, such as “he”, “she”, and “it”. With Third Person Omniscient POV, the reader will find themselves experiencing something similar to Third Person Limited, just inside the heads of multiple characters. Sometimes the POV will change between scenes, sometimes between chapters. The trick to pulling off Third Person Omniscient is in having very tight control of the story. The reader has access to the feelings, motivations, thoughts, and actions of multiple characters. Having tight control of the story means that the author has to be extremely careful about exactly what information the readers have access to with each character they follow. For instance, if your story has something that hinges on Bob, Molly, and Sally finding something out about Joe and it’s something that’s supposed to shock the reader too, then Joe can’t comment on it in chapter one.
Examples: Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien