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POV Tips in Fiction

POV Tips in Fiction

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Published by C. Patrick Schulze
How to Use Point of View in Novels
How to Use Point of View in Novels

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Published by: C. Patrick Schulze on Nov 18, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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POV Tips in FictionLast night I was working with my critique group and they stunned me with some ofthe errors they found still hidden within my novel, “Born to be Brothers.” Two,(count ‘em), of those errors were in Point of View, or as its know, POV. With lastnight’s lesson clear in my mind, I thought today’s post should encompass thatgreat bugaboo, Point of View.Let’s first try to understand what POV is. In a sound bite, it’s who is tellingthe story. Is a single character narrating what is going on, or are a number, oreven all the characters, telling the reader what is happening? POV is nothing morethan the writer’s method of determining which character is presenting thenarrative.See, it’s not all that mysterious.As to the types of POV, there are four perspectives for telling your story, thoughsome say there are five. Regardless, my focus will be with the three most common,and then primarily upon the Third Person, as it is the most common in fiction.Know that each POV has its advantages, disadvantages and typical uses.They three major types, with primary subdivisions are:First Person POVSecond Person POVThird Person POVo Limitedo Omnisciento ObjectiveKeep in mind when you write, you’ll settle into the one or two POV’s that servesyour storytelling and writing style. In fiction, the primary POV is Third Person.Let’s define these POV’s.First Person POVFirst Person POV has the writer, or narrator, personally telling the story. Ineffect, the narrator is speaking to his readers about what is transpiring and itcan be told in either present or past POV. It is most often used when one isauthoring a book about ones’ personal experiences or opinions. You’ll see thewriter using the common pronouns of I, me, my, mine, we, our and ours. It can fitinto fiction, but is widely used in memoirs.An example sentence is:As I looked at Jill, I knew she was upset.Second Person POVThink of this as how to write an instruction manual and extensive use of the word,“you.” This POV is rarely used in fiction as it simply tells the reader what thecharacters are doing and what they see.It is an awkward way to write with limited access to creativity. However, it doesgrab the reader’s attention. It can also exist in past and present forms.An example sentence is:
You, Jill, will then purse your lips and furrow your brow.Third Person POV has three subtypes and we’ll discover each on its own.o Third Person - Omniscient POVThird Person Omniscient POV is having all the major characters in your noveltelling the story.What is nice about this POV is the freedom it affords. The author can tell thereader what everyone’s motivations are and what it is they are thinking. Itallows the writer to give or withhold information at will.The difficulties lie in lack of control and its potentially cumbersome nature. Ifyou are not careful, by showing what inside every character’s head, the readerreceives too much information and can become frustrated as your POV losescohesion.You overcome this issue by consistency in your POV and have only one persontelling the story at a time. Also, eliminate any information that is not pertinentto the story. Have each chapter focus on one individual will help eliminate “head-hopping,” or jumping from one character’s POV to another within chapters.Your example:Jack wondered what Jill was thinking while Jill knew quite well whatthoughts rattled around Jack’s mind. Bill was surprised by what Jill was thinking.(See how this can get out of hand?)oThird Person - Limited POVThird Person Limited POV is perhaps the easiest to utilize and most popular whenwriting novels. Here the author writes from a single person’s vision throughoutthe entire book. In third person POV, you’ll see pronouns such as she, he, her,him, hers, his, it, its, they, them, theirs.The disadvantages come with the writer’s limitation as to who sees what. Thecharacter telling the story cannot get into the head of another to read histhoughts. He can only surmise what the other guy is thinking by that person’sfacial expression, actions and such. It’s also very easy to shift out of this POV.Your example:Jak understood Jill’s irritation, for her pursed lips and furrowed brow toldhim everything he needed to know.oThird Person Objective POVIn this POV, the author only tells his readers what happens by way of action ordialogue. Their characters’ feelings or thoughts are never revealed. It’s not themost effective POV for fiction.Your example is:Jack watched Jill furrow her brow and pinch her face.

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