How to Choose the Best POV For Your Story

Here it is – the follow-up on my last POV post.  I brushed over this topic in that post, but I felt I should go into more detail about the actual process of selecting which POV is best for your story.

First, there are questions to ask yourself.

HOW MANY CHARACTERS DO YOU NEED TO COVER?

This is one of the most important factors in deciding the POV fate of your book, and in some cases, it may be the only question you ask.

If your story centers around one character and that character essentially carries the whole story, consider first-person POV. Because it will enable you to come across with a depth of emotion and voice you may or may not achieve in third person. In my writing, I prefer first person over any other POV, simply because I do not write as well in third. In this POV, I can get deep into my character’s head and convey that character much more clearly than I can otherwise, and clarity is critical in writing.

An example from one of my WIPs is Ashes Remain. I finished the first draft of this story in first person/present tense. This story contains many characters, but it is told solely from the perspective of a teenage girl, Wren, because I found her to be a strong enough protagonist to carry the story.

However, if you have many important characters, several different main or secondary people who will carry the story, your best choice is likely third-person multiple. Keep in mind, you don’t want to enter too many characters’ heads in the course of one book. Keep it to as few as you can manage and still tell the story.

Another WIP example is my back-burner book, One Light Shining. This is written in third-person multiple so I can allow several different main characters to carry the story throughout.

WHAT VOICE ARE YOU SPEAKING THROUGH?

This is another important question. If you’re telling the story of a young woman living through WW1, you may, in fact, find third-person limited or first person to be your best options, simply because, in a story like this, you are probably trying to portray the emotion of the time, and remaining in one character’s head throughout is a possible way to accomplish this. That said, if you have two crucial MCs, the girl waiting at home and her brother (or father, or fiance) on the battlefield, obviously first person – unless you use first-person multiple – is not going to work.

Your story/character voice is another deciding factor in what POV you will use.

WHAT POV DO YOU LIKE BEST?

This is actually a more important question than it seems. Whatever POV you are most comfortable writing in, that’s probably what you’ll write the best. You may or may not be able to make the rest of your story conform to your preference. Keep in mind, you may simply need to stretch your abilities in writing, but this is a good start-up question to ask yourself.

 

There are so many ways to choose the best POV for your story, but asking these questions can get you started.

What POVs do you like the best in books you’ve read? First? Third? How about second?? Let’s chat!

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2 thoughts on “How to Choose the Best POV For Your Story

  1. Great post, Hannah! At some point I’d like to write a story in second person POV, but for now most of mine are first or third person. One of my (many) current WIPs is a story that’s either going to be called The Broken Me Inside or Reasons Why I Love You is being written in third person omniscient, and it’s turning out pretty well so far.

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    1. I’d love to see a second-person story! I haven’t seen almost any at all, which isn’t surprising, given that it seems to be a difficult POV to write well, but I think it would be an interesting challenge. 🙂

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