View Full Version : First Of All...What is Point of View...A Simplified View

August 1st, 2008, 10:47 AM
In writing, view point referst o who tells the story. It is an important consideration in the telling of a story as it has a huge influence on what the reader will know and when and how they will come to know it. The choice of viewpoint also impacts the way that events within the story will be described to the reader.

The most common points of view used today are:

First person point of view -- With first person point of view one character (narrator) who identifies himself or herself as I tells the story by describing his or her own experiences as they occur throughout the story. This can be a powerful viewpoint for some types of stories. It is the viewpoint used for confession stories and is also a common viewpoint for detective stories and other stories where the author wants the reader to experience the story only through one character and to know ONLY what that one character knows, and to know it ONLY when that one character knows it. Shortcomings of the viewpoint are that the author is limited in how he or she can transfer knowledge to the reader. The reader can only ever be privy to information that the viewpoint character is privy to.

Third person omniscient (sometimes called simply omniscient) -- With third person omniscient the narrator knows the thoughts and feelings of all the characters as well as the details of future and past events that the characters themselves do not know. Characters are referred to in third person (he said, she said, rather than in first person, I said). With third person omniscient viewpoint the story feels as if it is told from a vantage point outside the characters. The viewpoint is typically broader and not as deep. The narrator may inject his own knowledge into the narrative by saying something like, "Little did he know that everything he held dear would be lost."

Third person limited (sometimes called third person) -- With third person limited viewpoint the story is told through the narrator as if the narrator is in the viewpoint character. The characters are referred to in third person (he said, she said, Mike said, Gloria said, rather than in first person, I said). Within third person some authors switch point of view between characters within the story so that the narrator moves from one character to another. This allows the author to show the story from multiple points of view. When this is done too frequently or in an unplanned fashion it is frowned upon and referred to as "head hopping."

When we talk about the depth of point of view or using "deep point of view" we are most commonly talking about stories which are written in third person limited point of view although the same techniques used to deepen viewpoint in limited third person can be used to deepen point of view in first person point of view as well.