An Introduction to Point Of View in Creative Writing

An Introduction to Point Of View in Creative Writing

Anyone who has been along to a meeting of West Lothian Writers will know that one of the most common pieces of feedback we give each other is about point of view. However, despite six results coming up if you search Point of View on this website we have never discussed it in any depth – at time of writing of course! With this in mind we thought we should look at the topic.

Definition of Point of View

Where better place to start than defining what Point of View is. We’ve gone with Dictionary.com who say Point of View is:

the position of the narrator in relation to the story, as indicated by the narrator’s outlook from which the events are depicted and by the attitude toward the characters.

In creative writing there are three types of Points of View. They are, with examples in italics:

  1. First Person – To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. Second Person – Bright Lights Big City by Jay McInerney
  3. Third Person – Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Each point of view is written in a different way which Aims Community College, in their article Points of View in Writing, sum up nicely by saying

An Introduction to Point Of View in Creative Writing

Different Ways of Writing Third Person Point of View

Many of you will already know that there are different ways you can write Third Person Point of View. In their article Understanding Points of View in Literature, Dummies.com explain the two kinds of Third Person Point of View as:

  • third-person omniscient, in which the thoughts of every character are open to the reader
  • third-person limited, in which the reader enters only one character’s mind, either throughout the entire work or in a specific section

The difference between these two kinds of Third Person Point of View can be quite subtle and often derails writers who are starting out.

Writing the different kinds of Third Person Point of View

Don’t worry, however, as the following advice from The Writers’ Workshop, from their article Points of View in Fiction, will help you out:

  • Don’t switch Points of view in the middle of a scene.
  • Don’t write a scene from the Point of view of somebody who is killed in the course of it.
  • Choose a Point of view and stick to it.
  • If you are writing a scene from Roger’s perspective, then you can’t relate emotional information about Fanny.
  • If you start a book with a good number of scenes from Laura’s perspective, then you can’t just ditch her halfway through.

Ava Jae would two more pieces of advice:

  • Learn the way your point of view character speaks
  • Always think about the point of view character’s perspective

These two pieces of advice come from a blog post Ava Jae wrote on her Writability website called How to Differentiate Your POVs. Like every article we have mentioned in today’s post we recommend you go and read all of them in detail to fully understand the advice they are offering.

What is your favourite Point of View to write from?

An Introduction to Point Of View in Creative Writing by @WLWriters (Tweet this article)

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