Friday, May 27, 2011

Exploring Point of View (POV)

This week I’d like to begin an exploration of point of view (POV). As a starting point, I’ll be referring to Alicia Rasley’s excellent book on the topic called The Power of Point of View published by Writers’ Digest Books. 

In case you don’t know what POV means, let’s go back to grammar school days. We learned back then that verbs have a first person, a second person, and a third person form.  For example, the first person form of the verb speak is I speak. The second person form is You speak, and the third person form is He or She speaks. Each of these forms uses the verb speak from a different perspective. 

In writing fiction, POV also refers to different perspectives. As Rasley notes, POV is “the perspective from which the reader experiences the action of story” (p. 9).  Perception is an all-encompassing word. Perspective includes a person’s thoughts, emotions, opinions, and perceptions. It also includes what a person sees, hears, feels, smells, and touches. 

In fiction writing, your choice of point of view will determine through whose thoughts, emotions, opinions, and perceptions your reader will live the story. I like the way Rasley expresses this: “POV is the vehicle your reader uses to travel through the story” (ibid.). 

The simplest story has one point of view. Romances usually have two points of view, that of the heroine and that of the hero. Some stories have three and four points of view. In instances of multiple points of view, the technique to follow is to have only one POV per scene. 

Next week, we’ll consider how to choose the best POV for your story. So stay tuned! 🙂


Source cited:  Rasley, Alicia. The Power of Point of View: Make Your Story Come to Life. (Cincinnati, Ohio: Writers’ Digest Books, 2008).

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