The point of view in which your story will be told is one of the most important thing to figure out about your story before you start writing. Usually you choose between first, second, and third person points of view. The differences in them are great and can affect your story in a big way if the right point of view isn’t chose. Knowing the difference between the three is key to making sure your story is perfect. That is why the choice between first, second and third person points of view is an important one.
For those that don’t remember or may not know the difference between first, second, and third person points of view, allow me explain. First person is told using words like I, we, me, my, us, ours, etc. (I scream louder than I ever thought possible as the concert comes to a close). Second person is where the story is told by using you (You lift the guitar from its case, and begin to play the chords of a song you know from memory). Third person is told using words like he, she, they, him, her, theirs, etc. (He passed her a note in English and waited impatiently for a response). Third person, however, has two branches that you can choose to write from: omniscient (where all of the characters’ thoughts and actions are known) and limited (only the thoughts of one specific person are known).
Most writers that I have read use the same point of view for most of their stories. Personally, I find it immensely difficult to write in any other point of view than the one originally started writing in, a cross between first and second person points of view. I have experimented with third person briefly, but I find it difficult to write in. Regular first person is also difficult for me to write in. I’ve never tried to only write in second person, but I hope to have the opportunity to try this out sometime. I just haven’t had a character come to me that needs to tell their story from second person point of view yet.
Here’s an example of my writing, for reference:
“Mason,” I whisper, and a lifetime of saying your name washes over me. We are six on the swings at school, ten at a school dance, thirteen at our first party, sixteen and you kissed me for the first time, eighteen sitting on the edge of your bed and mulling over the fact that we have days left before we go away to two different colleges before dissolving into each other.
Mom shakes her head and tears begin to pool in my eyes. What does she mean no? Are you gone? Did they release you? I don’t think that she is you; is that what she’s thinking? As a thought begins to form in my brain, another one overpowers it. No, I quickly tell myself, Mason wouldn’t leave without me. You wouldn’t, would you?
Speaking of characters, knowing which character will tell your story is just as important as knowing the point of view. These two things go hand in hand, and are of the utmost importance to your story. Think about how different Harry Potter would have been if J.K. Rowling had used Lord Voldemort to tell the story rather Harry Potter. Can you even imagine it? Chances are, you can’t. The story of an orphaned boy in an ongoing battle against the darkest wizard of all time throughout seven books would be drastically different. What if, by the end of the story, we hated Harry and mourned the death of the Dark Lord?
Choosing the perfect character to tell your story means more than just deciding that since you are a female, your main character should also be a female. Make sure the person you chose to tell your story is the person that will have the best voice. The last thing you want is for a story about a young mother dealing with the pressure of balancing school, work and a toddler to be told from the perspective of the father. You should be choosy because only then will you have the perfect person to tell your story.
Sometimes, though, it takes more than one person to tell a story. Have you ever read a book by Jodi Picoult or The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare? Every book I have ever read by Picoult is told from the perspective of more than one person. The plot flows between each person telling the story (even if it doesn’t seem like they do when you first meet the character), while each character still has their own individual stories that are being told. This method of writing can be beneficial for many reasons, including giving you a new character to write through when the original one isn’t saying a whole lot.
Personally, I like to alternate my stories between characters. This gives me a new voice when I need it, and helps move the story along. I’ve learned that by using only one voice I tend to get stuck more often. I run out of “filler” moments before the big things happen in the story. With more than one voice telling the story, I am more likely to have an idea to use with another character.
If you write, or are thinking about writing, I would love to hear about the point of view that you write from. Feel free to comment below! As always, don’t forget to check back every other Monday for a new blog post! Follow me on Twitter!