When it comes to learning the craft of fiction writing, little seems to throw the would-be best-selling novelist into a tailspin of confusion more rapidly than the concept of Point of View. In this series of posts, I hope to shed some light on the subject, and to get you back on the road to success as a writer.
Point of View (or “POV” as we like to call it) is essentially the perspective from which the reader experiences the action of the story. It’s sometimes known as Viewpoint, Voice (character voice, not author voice), or Narrative Mode. Your POV choice as a writer determines and dictates what information the reader will receive. It can be a powerful tool when used well.
As authors, it is our job to create an emotional experience for our readers. POV is a tool an author uses to allow their readers to see and hear what is happening in the story, thus creating that desired emotional response.
There are two separate elements of POV to consider:
- Grammatical Forms: The way the action of the story is told (First Person, Second Person, and the various forms of Third Person).
- Character Voice: “Whose head are we in?”
In today’s post, we’re going to take our first look at the first element; grammatical forms. Before you panic and try to hide under your desk, just remember that you learned this back in grade school. I know you did. You’ve just forgotten. Let’s take some time for a quick review, then we can all go to recess.
First Person elements:
1. Uses “I, We” (“I decided to bake a cake so we would have something to take to the party”).
2. Narrator is also a character in the story (usually the protagonist).
3. Commonly used form of narration.
4. Intimate; can be limiting because you limit the number of characters who can add to the story.
5. Usually past tense, but could be present tense.
First person is used effectively in lots of books and stories. Some classic examples are:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Got it? Great! Now that I’ve explained the basic elements of the First Person Grammatical Form, I think we should go write a practice paragraph or two just to make sure we have the hang of it. Ready…go!
Did you do it? Are you brave enough to share their work?
Come back next week for lesson 2: Second Person.
Doree Taylor says
Great article, Lesley — I really did enjoy it and plan to pass your link on to another aspiring writer I know… I’m looking forward to the next lesson!
I appreciate that so much, Doree. If your friend visits my blog, tell her to introduce herself.