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Choosing a Character Point of View (POV)
By Vanessa Finaughty

Point of view (POV) refers to the perspective of who is telling the story. In non-fiction, it’s the narrator (writer). In fiction, it’s usually a main character (first, second or third person POV), though the narrator’s (writer’s) POV is also used fairly regularly, as is God mode.

While 19th-century fiction was riddled with constant POV switches, often from one sentence to the next, contemporary fiction frowns on this, stating that only one POV should be used per scene, and with good reason.

When choosing a character POV, keep the following in mind:

Too many POV characters will eradicate a reader’s intimacy with those characters. To help alleviate this problem, I advise that writers don’t write from minor/supporting characters’ POVs unless it adds entertainment value or furthers the plot.

Be mindful that you don’t write things in a scene that the scene’s POV character cannot know. It’s harder than it sounds, since the writer knows everything, including events that haven’t occurred yet. A way around this is to have POV characters assuming things about other characters, or noticing their expressions, how the other character’s hands are clenched, shoulders are stiff or that he or she is scowling or smiling, for example.

Remember: POV enables writers to draw readers into an imaginary world and their characters’ lives. As a writer, you need to weave a web, catch your reader in it and keep it ‘sticky’ (entertaining) enough to prevent them from escaping your world. Constant POV switches are jarring and will undo all your hard work in this regard.

~ Extract from The Better Writing Guide. For more in-depth information on the various POVs, please consider purchasing the guide.


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