Last time, we talked about voice and how we can use it to bring our characters to life. There’s another thing to consider that often gets confused for voice in writing, and that’s point of view or POV.
Point of view deals with the perspective of who is telling the story. There are a lot of subcategories when discussing POV, but to keep things simple, I’m only going to talk about the most basic form for now.
The two most common POVs are first and third person. First-person is telling the story as if you are the main character. It uses predominantly “I” pronouns when giving the main character’s thoughts and actions. “I am doing this.” This can be a bit more immersive for the reader, but it limits you to only being able to focus on one perspective.
Third person uses he/she/they pronouns and puts the narrator outside the action. They are observers looking down on the action and relaying the information to the reader. “She is doing this.” Third person allows you to have more viewpoints and see other parts of the story by involving more characters. Just be careful you aren’t head-hopping, jumping perspective, from one sentence to the next and confusing your readers.
There is one more POV out there. It’s not seen in many publications, but it can be a fun way for your readers to experience the story as it makes them the main character.
It’s called second person and uses “you” pronouns to make the reader feel like they are the ones doing the action. “You are doing this.” This one can be tough to write in. You have to be careful with descriptions to avoid pulling your reader out of the story. Describing a character that looks completely different from your reader when they are supposed to be the one in the story will break the illusion and ruin the experience for your readers. They need to be as featureless as possible so that the reader can superimpose themselves onto the character.
While POV is not the same as voice, it is just as important. It is the lens through which your reader will experience the story. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different POVs to see which one works best for your style and suits your characters.