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How to Determine Which Point of View to Use in Your Story

How to Determine Which Point of View to Use in Your Story

By on Jul 31, 2015 in Fiction, Writing Tips

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When you set out to write a story, one of the decisions you have to make is from which point of view to tell the story? This decision is very important and will make a huge impact on the story reading experience of the reader. Considering the choice you make, your story might turn out to be a completely different one to what might have developed if you had made a different viewpoint choice.

Most beginners will start off with the first person viewpoint. This is easier because it allows the author to get intimate with a character and put themselves in that position. For most authors, this is a good way of acquainting themselves better with the character through whose eyes they want the story to be told. But this is not the only viewpoint. Third person viewpoint is generally the most preferred one for readers because it allows them to get the entire story from all angles. Second person viewpoint is a rare choice for authors to make, and is more common in nonfiction work. In this viewpoint, the author speaks directly to the reader with the use of pronouns like ‘you’ and ‘your’.

One way to determine which point of view to use is, to decide from which character’s viewpoint the story would be told. Normally, it would be the protagonist because most of the action would take place around him or her. If this is the case, then it is safe to use the first person viewpoint to tell your story. This will make your reader privy to the protagonist’s thoughts and feelings and make them connect to him or her. But this viewpoint has its problems too. For example, if the protagonist is not present during the main action, then the reader does not get any information about it. Another problem with this style is that authors tend to get drawn into long-drawn narrations and don’t show enough through action.

The viewpoint character is the character from whose point of view the story is told. It is often the protagonist, but it can be an observer too. If your viewpoint character is not going to be present at all where the action is taking place, then it might be useful to take up a third person viewpoint with the narrative. With this viewpoint, you can develop a more nuanced story and create a rich universe. Even if your protagonist, narrator or viewpoint character is not present, you can still write evocative scenes to which the reader can relate. You can also write a story from the point of view of more than one person. In this case too, it would be better to use third person viewpoint. You can tell your story from different perspectives, enabling the reader to get more out of the world you have created.

Once you get the hand of the basic advantages and problems of choosing a viewpoint, you can make a more informed choice that will reflect in the quality of your story. Choose the character according to how you want the story to be told.

Image credit: martinak15 on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0

Kavitha is a freelance content writer and French translator, and has been working in this field since 2008. She has degrees in computer applications and international business and has a background in business and international trade. She enjoys learning languages and is currently learning Japanese. Her interests vary from books and writing to travelling and history.

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