Author Tip Tues – Tips #21 Point of View

written by Lee Strauss | Author Tips Tuesday, Lee Strauss, writing tips

November 22, 2016

Since I can't think of a Point of View image, I'm just going to show you the view out my window right now. Yes, I love living here. 🙂


This tip is for beginning writers and it's important that it's understood.

Your story has to be told by someone. That person is called the point of view character, and their point of view is told in one of three ways.

First person POV:

I went to the store. I called my friend on the phone.” It's a close story telling perspective because we are inside the main character's head all the time. We never leave. The advantage to First Person POV is the sense of being in the front row of the action. The disadvantage is that you can only reveal information that the main character herself knows, when she knows it.

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is told in First Person:

~~My mother used to tell me that I had an over active imagination.~


~~ When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.~~


~~My eyes zeroed in on the campus website’s front page. “Did you see these special bulletins warning girls not to walk alone after dark?” I said to Teagan. “There’s even a free self-defense class offered.”~~

The most common form of story telling is Third Person, either Limited or Omniscient. When a story is told in Third Person POV, the author uses Proper Names and corresponding Pronouns. “Kathy went to the store. She called her friend on the phone.”

Limited means you stay in the head of the POV character and tell the story from his or her perspective. The author tells us the main characters thoughts and actions. Omniscient third is when the narrator (the author) knows everything about everyone and informs the reader about what's going on with each at any given time.

Some authors will jump around from head to head when telling the story this way, showing what multiple characters are thinking within the same scene. I personally find that approach jarring.

HARRY POTTER is in Third Person Omniscient. The story starts off from The Dursleys’ point of view.

~~Mr. Dursley hummed as he picked out the most boring tie for work, and Mrs. Dursley gossiped away happily as she wrestled a screaming Dudley into his high chair.~~

PLAYING WITH MATCHES is told in close Third Person Limited. The whole story is told through his eyes.

~~Emil Radle limped across the sloping field that was brittle and dry from lack of rain and irrigation. He lost his footing twice, falling, grabbing at his leg, his mouth opening in a wide teeth-baring groan. ~~

Second Person POV is storytelling with the use of the pronoun “You” where the narrator is speaking directly to the reader. This technique is rarely used in fiction. “You went to the store. You called your friend on the phone.”

Here's my rule of thumb: only tell one point of view at a time and (please) don't jump around from head to head in the same scene. If you have more than one point of view character, separate their narratives with new chapters or scene breaks.

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