Point of View

povWhy is point of view so important in our writing? It shows your characters personal thoughts and feelings, and allows the reader to experience the story through that character.

Point-of-view should be used to reveal information, as the reader needs to know it, from the character who can wield the greatest emotional impact–the character that has the most at stake in the scene. A character’s POV is relayed through introspection. Every character could have a point of view, but it’s best to limit viewpoint characters to three… hero, heroine, and villain. The secondary character’s points-of-view should be relayed through dialogue. We should always be sure the reader knows whose point of view they are in, and avoid author or omnipresent POV.

What is author POV? It’s the same as omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, or “God-like” point-of-view. Author POV should be avoided at all costs. When in the author’s POV no emotion can be conveyed since there is no character to identify with, only the voice of the author ‘telling’ the reader what they want them to know. When the reader is being ‘told’, all emotion is lost. The author POV is always telling and not showing, and it pulls the reader out of the story instead of involving them in it.

An example of using author’s POV would be, “They all sat on the sofa and watched television”. The author would be the only POV who would say “they” to indicate all the characters in the scene. Author POV becomes the all knowing, all seeing entity who suddenly begins to tell the story. New writers often switch into author POV without realizing it, and in some scenes it is very tempting and easy to slip into.

Another example you may have seen: They loved into the morning hours, lost in their passion. That is the author watching the hero and heroine, rather than the hero or heroine seeing himself/herself with his/her lover. With that scenario, the reader is told what is happening, but has no emotional involvement so it shows the reader nothing.

Properly handled POV involves the reader emotionally, and the only time you can convey emotion is while in a character’s POV. POV is critical to our stories, and it is imperative we study point of view and use it well.