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  • LV Ditchkus

Who should tell your story?

The storyteller’s point of view (POV) creates a bond between your readers and the story. As an author, you should consider whether that connection should be intimate or distant.

First-person POV is the closest. The author tells the story from the perspective of one individual, and any thoughts are from that character’s head. The pronoun forms are I and me. The reader knows everything the lead individual feels (e.g., their emotions and motivations). If you’re writing a thriller, mystery, detective fiction, or memoir, this perspective allows your reader to uncover events along with the narrator.

Examples of great first-person POV books include Hunger Games and The Handmaid’s Tale.

Third-person omniscient is generally considered the most distant POV. The narrator can dip into any character's head and knows everything—all their fears and impulses. Also, the author can infuse the story with their own perspectives and opinions (i.e., without attributing them to one of the characters). Pronouns are she/he and hers/his. This form allows the writer to move between characters and dip into or out of the story. While the reader will have a more complete sense of what’s happening, this perspective keeps the reader at arm’s length.

Third-person omniscient POV is tried and true, and hundreds of thousands of books from decades and centuries past were written this way.

Besides first person, third person close (or limited) is one of the more popular POVs currently used. This form brings the reader into the lead character’s head and allows the reader to experience the story as events unfold (i.e., like first-person POV). Third-person close uses the pronouns she/he and hers/his, but the perspective is limited to one character (or different characters but in separate sections or chapters). This form is currently

Two examples are A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire #1 by George R.R. Martin and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

Second-person POV is challenging for some readers (i.e., including me). In this form, the narrator turns the reader into one of the characters, and the story feels immediate. The entire narrative is written as if the reader is experiencing the story. So it would include sentences like: You crossed the street OR You held the bloody knife. Don't let my bias stop you from trying this POV. There are many award-winning books written in the second-person POV, but (sorry) I haven’t read any of them.

If you want to see written examples with different POVs, take a look at this Writers’ Digest article.

My advice: Pick the POV that best tells your story and creates the appropriate reader-relationship for your work.

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