The POV Battle – and Choosing the Right One for Your Story

If you have been a writer and reader for any length of time, you’re probably aware of the major debate among authors regarding POVs. There are so many of them. Some work better for one story, some work better for one author. So let’s lay out the facts today. Because, really, there’s no right answer.

THIRD PERSON – MULTIPLE

This POV is fairly straightforward but can be a learning curve. Simply put, it is the third-person POV in which you can only see through one character’s eyes in any given scene. You can switch around between characters, but not in the same scene. Use a clear scene divider on the page, or just switch characters at the end of the chapter.

PROS:

Good for suspense-building.

Fairly simple to understand.

CONS:

Limiting for the author with a bunch of important characters (see the warning below).

Can be difficult to write if you’re totally new to it.

WARNINGS:

Don’t put your readers in the head of too many characters, especially secondary characters, in one book. Stick to your most important characters and build the story off of them.

THIRD PERSON – OMNISCIENT

As the name suggests, this POV refers to the books like Frank Peretti’s and the classics, in which you can be in any number of characters’ heads at any time in any scene. It may sound super easy, but it’s not. To write it well, and I mean really well, as it should be, you’ve got to be an experienced reader and probably a pretty prolific writer, too. I can’t explain it fully – read the classics, you’ll know what I mean.

PROS:

Encompasses many characters without the need for scene or chapter breaks.

May work well for a book with a good many characters.

CONS:

Difficult to write well.

Not as popular anymore, especially among young adults.

WARNINGS:

Don’t try to write this until you really know what you’re doing!

THIRD PERSON – LIMITED

This is the POV I have no experience with. From what I’ve learned, it encompasses only one character’s thoughts through the entire book. I once read a book I thought was written this way, until the end, when I realized it was omniscient. 🙂

PROS:

Will come in handy for someone who only wants to write in deep POV with one character, perhaps in a novella or a shorter book.

Excellent for building suspense.

CONS:

Very limiting.

Takes a lot of discipline to write correctly.

WARNINGS:

Know for sure that this is the POV you need before writing it.

FIRST PERSON – LIMITED

The most common type of first person is limited, though some books are now first-person multiple. This, also, is one character for the whole book, but written under the pronoun instead of he or she.

PROS:

Excellent choice for getting into your character’s head.

A common choice of POV.

CONS:

Somewhat limiting.

Not a popular POV among certain groups of readers.

WARNINGS:

Know that this POV is right for your story before you start writing it.

FIRST PERSON – MULTIPLE

Again, I have almost no experience writing this way. However, this is a reasonable step forward in writing first person, and it is relatively new in regards to popularity.

PROS:

A good way to get into your characters’ heads but still encompass other characters.

A growing trend.

CONS:

Highly unpopular among certain groups of readers.

Can be very difficult to establish different “voices” in different POVs.

WARNINGS:

Make sure you practice with different voices in this POV so that each character is distinct. Don’t use any more characters than you absolutely have to.

FIRST PERSON – PRESENT TENSE

This is one of personal interest that I am including. It is one of my favorite POVs. First person, written in present tense, is a lot harder than it sounds, but I have found it to be one of the best ways I can connect with my characters – because all of a sudden, they feel real.

PROS:

Growing in popularity quickly.

Excellent way to connect with characters for some.

CONS:

Can be difficult to master.

Unpopular in certain groups of readers.

WARNINGS:

This POV does not work for every author, nor for every book.

 

And that is about it. Because I’ve used so many words in this post, I’m splitting it up. Stay tuned, because my next post is going to go into more detail about choosing a POV, and I’m going to have a list of recommended reading for each one!

 

What are/is your favorite POV(s)? Why? What advise could you share with new writers about choosing one for their story? Let’s chat!

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5 thoughts on “The POV Battle – and Choosing the Right One for Your Story

  1. Nice! I don’t have one particular POV I use in general, right now I’m using a few different ones in different stories. I like third person Multiple and third person Limited, though Multiple is more fun than Limited. I also like first person Multiple and Limited, and even though Multiple isn’t as popular or easy to write I like challenging myself to make it interesting for my readers. I also like writing in present tense… I have a few stories written in that. Though, now that I think about it, most of my stories are either first or third person Limited.

    For people choosing the POV for their stories, I would say to try writing the same scene in different POVs, and then seeing which fits the best. For example, I have a story called Wild that’s written in third person limited. I tried writing it in first person, but then there just wasn’t as much tension and dramaticness in it. In another story of mine, Inked, it’s first person limited (present tense) and I think that works nicely for the story as everything the main character Chloe experiences is happening at the moment, and it leaves the sort open ended in case I want her to die. *cue the evil laughter* A couple of times I’ve been writing in a POV I really liked, but then realized that the story needed to be different, or that I needed to rewrite it completely! Overall, I think it’s a trial-and-error process to find the right POV for the right story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree – trail and error. I’ll be talking more about that in my next post. Usually, I can identify what POV is going to work just from the outline, but not always. Each POV can offer something to the story, and sometimes, no matter what POV you choose, you’re going to lose something, too. (Like the tension level, your ability to kill off your main character, etc.) *joins in evil laughter*

      Like

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