Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Writing Tip Wednesday--POV Choice

You know what first, third, and omniscient POV are from last week's post. Let's talk about how to decide which POV type to choose and who gets to show which scenes in third person.

How to choose between first and third--
You have an awesome idea for a story. Your character(s) is(are) starting to drive you crazy, yakking away in your head at all hours of the day and night.

Does the story focus on one person's journey? Will the plot develop fully in only that person's point of view? Does more than a single character need to show his/her perspective to keep the reader involved in the storyline and reveal important information?

If you choose first person, remember that you have to stay in the "I" point of view for the entire manuscript. You are the character. Other characters' reactions, emotions, and thoughts have to be revealed through dialogue exposition, a diary, letters, etc. "I" can't know what's going on in someone else's mind (unless I'm a mind reader/empath/clairvoyant). Will this work to effectively tell your story?

If you choose third person, you can show different perspectives on the same event, issue, etc. This doesn't mean every character should get to have a scene in his/her POV. Stick to the main characters, limiting the number of POVs to avoid confusing the reader. Each scene focuses on that person's showing of the story. Don't mix POVs. **More about headhopping and POV transitions next week.**

How to choose who gets the scene in third--
You've chosen to write in third-person point of view, with the two main characters showing the story. Whose POV should you use for each scene?

To engage the reader, decide which person is most at risk or has the most to lose in the scene. Does the character have to fall victim to the danger or actually lose? No. The point is to build tension and move the plot along at a good pace. Make the reader have a difficult time setting down the book or stopping at the end of the scene.

Sometimes, both characters are equally challenged. In this case, you have a decision to make. Is the story about one person more than the other? Do you have a good balance of one POV vs. the other? Can you add the non-POV character's emotions and thoughts through dialogue or in a later scene?

Most of the time, the choice will be clear. If you're completely baffled, try writing the scene from both POVs to see which is better at conveying the action/conflict. You might also ask "Is the scene necessary to the development of the characters/story?"

That's all for today! Next week, POV continues with Headhopping vs. Transitions.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!


  1. Great advice about POV, Mellanie! :)

  2. Thanks, Tatum! Glad you stopped by :)

  3. This is a great post! POV is something I struggle with. Looking forward to next week!