Dec 9, 2017

The Write-A-Story Calendar Day 9: Points of View

You're pretty much set to start writing your story now, but there's still an important decision to make: which point of view are you going to pick?

You can't go wrong with third person limited (he/she). It's probably the most popular choice. It gives you the intimacy of getting in the protagonist's head, but still retains a bit of distance. You can get away with a bit more regarding the character's voice with third person than with first person, and the majority of books are written in third person, so it might feel familiar and easy to write. To avoid head-hopping, third person limited is probably a better choice than third person omniscient, though it might feel familiar from a lot of classics and children's books. It's tricky to do well, though. If you have a very strong voice as a writer, the best way to showcase it might be third person omniscient, where you're acting as a kind of narrator to the story.

The other mainstream option would be first person (I), which has the advantage of being easier for some writers, because you're automatically in one person's head and point of view and it's easier to convey that person's thoughts and feelings when you're writing first person. The tricky part is that character voice matters a lot more in first person narratives, and it's easy to slip up if the character voice is very different from your own.

Second person (you) . . . Well, go there at your own peril. Not the easiest sell, and tends to annoy readers and editors alike.

Once you've settled on a point of view, you also need to pick a tense, past or present. Past tense is the more common of the two, but present tense can go well with first person narratives.

Not sure which point of view to pick? Do a practice run. You can always change it later.

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