The Point of View defines from which angle a story is told and what the story teller actually knows. There are three major perspectives:
- First Person
- Limited / Multiple Third Person
- Omniscient Third Person
For each of these you have to remember that the author is not identical with the story teller!
The person actually telling the story is part of the story, which restricts the thoughts and the experience of actions to this persons view.
You can tell the story in the present moment or tell the story as if it already happened. Here are some examples:
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
I can hear the blade whistling toward me and reflexively hike the pack up to protect my head. The blade lodges in the pack. Both straps on my shoulders now, I make for the trees. Somehow I know the girl will not pursue me. That she’ll be drawn back into the Cornucopia before all the good stuff is gone. A grin crosses my face. Thanks for the knife, I think.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
We went to a clump of bushes, and Tom made everybody swear to keep the secret, and then showed them a hole in the hill, right in the thickest part of the bushes. Then we lit the candles, and crawled in on our hands and knees.
The Third Person is the typical “he/she/it” narrator and the story happens from the third persons point of view. Similar to First Person you have to restrict what you tell your readers to the things this person actually knows and feels.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
The last thing Harry saw before the hat dropped over his eyes was the Hall full of people craning to get a good look at him. Next second he was looking at the black inside of the hat. He waited.
This is the Limited Third Person. The only difference to the Multiple Third Person is, that the telling of the story switches between people.
Omniscient Third Person
The Omniscient Third Person is the Point of View of someone who isn’t actively part of the story. This story teller knows everything – what each character does and thinks, how the story goes and therefore both the past and the future. He always tells the truth although – keep that in mind – he doesn’t have to tell the reader everything.
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
Actually Gollum lived on a slimy island of rock in the middle of the lake. He was watching Bilbo now from the distance with his pale eyes like telescopes. Bilbo could not see him, but he was wondering a lot about Bilbo, for he could see that he was no goblin at all.
Gollum got into his boat and shot off from the island, while Bilbo was sitting on the brink altogether flummoxed and at the end of his way and his wits.
It’s your choice alone which point of view you want to use, as long as you abide to the consequences. Don’t tell your readers something if they shouldn’t be able to know it based on the Point of View. Even if they aren’t able to point at the mistake itself, they will get a feeling that something is off.
Which is your preferred Point of View? Both Nadine and myself use the Limited Third Person. What about you?
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