Narrative Point of View

Point of viewWhen you actually start writing the novel that has been fighting to get itself out of your brain and into some form of hard copy, one of the most important questions you must ask yourself is from which point of view will you be telling your story?

There are several different narrative points of view you can choose from:

First person narrative

This is where the narrator uses pronouns such as ‘I’ or ‘we’ rather than ‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘they’. The narrator could be the protagonist, a participant or merely an observer.

There are pros and cons to using first person narrative, one downside being that your reader can only know the thoughts of your narrator. However, this can be effective with the narrator becoming a unifying element and bringing an immediacy to the narrative, allowing your reader to identify with your narrator.

Second person narrative

Rarely used, this is where the author utilises ‘you’ and ‘your’. A second-person point of view can be more intimate for the reader, drawing them into the story, almost making them a participant in the action.

Third person narrative

This viewpoint uses the pronouns ‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘they’ to tell the story and the reader feels they are an outsider looking in on the action.

Third Person Omniscient

This is where the thoughts and feelings of every character are open to the reader allowing the writer to tell the story from multiple points of view.

Third Person Limited Omniscient

This is where the narrator focuses on the thoughts, feelings and actions of a single major character. This gives the writer more freedom than first person, but less than third person omniscient.

Third Person Dramatic or Objective

Like a camera, the narrator reports only what can be seen and heard; no thoughts of characters are given except as spoken.

As mentioned above, there are pros and cons to each narrative point of view. The most commonly used are first and third person. If you think your reader will get bored seeing things merely from one point of view, switch to third and see what that lends to your story. There is no right or wrong way; it is up to you to decide. One good tip is to write a short piece from different viewpoints and make a judgement as to which one works best.

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