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How to Pick the Right Point of View for Your Novel

Advice on how to choose between first person, second person, 3rd person point of view and more!

By Brian Klems, Online Editor

Write Great Fiction; Point of View

Tools in the Writer's Craft: Character, Emotion and Viewpoint

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Of all the decisions you need to make when crafting a novel, choosing the point of view from which you tell your story is one of the most important. There are so many options to consider--first person point of view, second person point of view, third person limited point of view, etc.--that it’s tough to gauge which one will fit your fiction best. If you choose the wrong one, it could stifle your writing and keep it from being the masterpiece you’d hope it would become. So before choosing which point of view to tell your story, make sure you understand the differences between each one and how they affect storytelling.

 

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Writing Point of View

Many books are written with a predetermined narrative point of view, but that isn’t always the best way to go about it. It’s often better to consider all options before diving in. In Writing Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion and Viewpoint, Nancy Kress (who is the author of 16 novels and three story collections) delivers indispensable tips on how to hand-select the right point of view for your book. Whether you’re writing in the first person or writing in the third person, you’ll be guided by her advice on how to craft scenes that fit best and help you to create compelling characters. You’ll find example after example on point of view. Literature in this resource will not only change the way you view writing a novel but will also allow you to write the best book you possibly can.

Narrative Viewpoint Writing Made Easy

Developing voice, narrative and character can be extremely difficult if you don’t surround yourself with the right tools. That’s why Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game) has gathered everything you could need to guide you through all the critical writing decisions necessary to produce a great book in Elements of Fiction Writing Characters and Viewpoint. In Elements of Fiction Writing Characters and Viewpoint, you’ll get answers to questions like what is a character, what makes a good character, how to name a character, and how to choose between 1st person point of view and 3rd person point of view (among other things). The advice is timeless, so this is the type of book on writing that you’ll return to over and over again, no matter how many novels you write.

Digging Deeper Into POV

Understanding definitions isn’t the only important element of the overall process of choosing your novel’s point of view. In writing, it’s key to acknowledge and realize that the point of view you select can actually enhance your story. Award-winning author and writing instructor Alicia Rasley breaks down all of this in The Power of Point of View, a easy-to-read resource that covers everything from genre-specific point-of-view tips to techniques for crafting a dynamic points of view to individual writing styles and more. The book employs exercises designed to engage your mind and help you determine which point-of-view path you not only want to take, but need to take when building your perfect novel. In addition, you can also pick up the POV & Voice Worksheet, which allows you to test your own narrative point of view choices by answering seven important questions that every writer should ask himself or herself before writing Chapter 1.


Recommended Point of View Products

Elements of Fiction Writing

Developing Characters and Viewpoints in Fiction Writing

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Choosing the best point of view; Point of view primer

Choosing the Best Point of View for your Genre

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POV tips; techniques; and exercises

Generate genre-specific Points of View

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Practicing point of view worksheet

Practice POV and Voice with this Downloadable Worksheet

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Enjoy a Discount! Save 10% Off Select POV Products!
Use Promo Code: SAVELP

Final discounts will be displayed within the cart for qualifying items. Discount not valid on pre-orders, value packs,
subscriptions, and 3rd party products. 1 use per customer. Other exclusions apply.

 


Literary Points of View

Sometimes all you need is a quick primer for nailing down which voice you want telling your tale. Another excellent resource for point-of-view advice is this classic issue of Writer’s Digest, which features a workbook section dedicated to points of view in literature. It includes the keys to writing in multiple points of view, how to choose the best point of view for your genre, and the pros and cons of writing in the present tense. (The issue also offers up some practical advice on how to earn a little side money by freelancing and copywriting, so you get more than just point-of-view advice.)

Putting Your Viewpoint To The Test

No matter what direction you ultimately decide to take your book in, you’ll be better equipped to move forward once you know everything there is to know about choosing a point of view. Whether you decide to take the first person approach in your science fiction novel, tackle the second person point of view in your thriller or attempt to master the third person limited point of view in your literary fiction, you can feel confident that you are making the right decision based on everything you’ve learned about point of view from these writing experts. Don’t let your characters sit around responding to a voice that doesn’t fit--bring your characters to life with the strongest narrative point of view you can.

 

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Brian A. Klems is the Online Editor of Writer's Digest. He's also a writer, husband, perennial fantasy sports underachiever, and father of three lovely little girls. His Writer's Dig blog—which covers writing and publishing—is one of the fastest growing blogs in the writing community, and his first book, OH BOY YOU’RE HAVING A GIRL: A DAD’S GUIDE TO RAISING DAUGHTERS, will be published by Adams Media this spring. Connect with him on Twitter @BrianKlems.