Just like in real life, the way we see the world in fiction is key to understanding the big picture. In literature, this perspective is referred to as Point of View (or POV for short).
One point of view can plunge us into the depths of a character’s mind, while another can puzzle us by keeping its characters distant. A POV can reveal next to nothing, leaving us scratching our heads, or it can lay everything out in astonishing detail.
Let’s review POV basics with a little help from an excerpt from our Point of View mini-course. Read through the lesson below and see if you can complete the activity in the comments.
Good luck and have fun!
Show Your Work: Point of View
I am the First-Person. When I’m writing in the first-person POV, I am the most important person in the story. My opinions and thoughts matter most to the reader.
I think kangaroos are cooler than crocodiles.
You are the Second-Person. When you’re writing in the second-person POV, all of the focus shifts to you, the reader.
You think it’s crazy that someone would believe kangaroos are cooler than crocodiles. “No way,” you say. “Wombats are cooler than both.”
She, he, or they are the Third-Person. This POV puts the reader in a position to observe everything happening in the story from a slight distance, as if watching a movie.
She thinks crocodiles are cool. He thinks kangaroos are cool. But everyone knows that wombats are the coolest.
Do you notice how the narrator of these three examples changes with “I,” “you,” and “she?” That’s because those three pronouns determine who your narrator is, and as a result, how the story is told.
1. Look at this piece of artwork by @shishir_naik. What do you think is happening here? What’s the story from each character’s perspective?
2. In the comments below, write three sentences—one from each POV. First-person, second, and third (I, you, and he/she/they).
3. Be creative!
Point of View is more than just “I,” “you,” or “they.” It’s the narrator’s personality, as well as the lens through which readers peek into your fictional universe. It’s a pact of trust with your audience that you can bend or break. It’s the vessel of all the elements that make up your story—tone, mood, humor, drama, conflict. It’s the first and last thing the reader will perceive.
Different points of view range from incredibly complex to charmingly simple. Luckily, we have Miss Robinson here to define some common ones:
Get more tips with Miss Robinson, earn Crowns with quizzes, and improve your perspective with this POV mini-course!.