Note: I actually wrote this lesson yesterday. I wrote halfway through this and realized it didn’t belong as lesson 6. This is a good example of letting go of control as a writer. I outlined each lesson, organized them, researched for them, and still managed to run into a hiccup. No worries. Just postpone one chapter and figure out where to put it later. In our Editing lesson, we will talk about this more.
Without further ado…
Point of View
PoV (Point of View). The PoV alone can set the tone of the book. Do not take this lightly, this may be the single most important aspect (not really, but it is important!) It is the view point of which your readers will follow, and will determine how they connect to the characters.
First Person: First Person is written from the main character’s (or any character of your choosing) view point. It is the direct link to the character’s thoughts and feelings and, when done appropriately, can be very impactful.
E.g. The sound of my shoes click-clacking on the cobblestone was soothing. The air was cold, and my breath came out in ghostly puffs. I walked slowly, trying to draw out this trip as long as possible–even though I was running five minutes late. John was surely waiting at the coffee shop already. I didn’t want to talk to him. But I had already agreed. Why was I always so agreeable? He knew something, I had seen it in his eyes–the suspicion.
When writing in First Person, remember to use pronouns of “I”, “me”, “myself”, etc., because you are writing a direct line from the character’s thoughts. Think of it as the MC’s personal diary. However, unless you are writing straight from a diary, be careful not to treat First Person as such. Note in the example, I maintained a past tense, giving it the same flow of a story being told. Now take into consideration that excerpt written like this:
Click-clack, click-clack–I love my tappy shoes. I love high heels! I’m so short, I feel like this gives me an extra edge, lol. Brr, it’s cold out here. I wish it was summer. Omg, why did I agree to meet that weirdo John? Geez! What is with that guy? I think he knows my secret. But what does he care anyway? I don’t even know him.
Notice the lack of description, and the intimacy of the text. This writing certainly gives you a strong voice of the main character, but the average reader will not suffer through this long. This loose and exaggerated writing works well with middle school to young adult books (e.g. Diary of a Wimpy Kid). If you’re trying to write a serious novel, I would caution you from this writing. Editors and agents will not take you seriously, because this is not good writing.
Second Person: Rarely will you see second person point of view in a novel, because it is a difficult view to write. This is not to say it’s a bad style, it is just difficult for both writer and reader. However, it can be done. Second person is used when the narrator (meaning you) is telling the story to another character using ‘you’, or when the narrator is telling the story directly to the audience in which pronouns of ‘you’, ‘your’, or ‘you’re’ is used. This blog is an example of Second Person, as it is a narration from me to you.
E.g. You walk along the cobblestone street, listening as your shoes click-clack noisily. The cold wind bites through your light jacket, and you shiver.
If you’re up for the challenge, fiction can be written using Second Person. You might struggle with it, but it can be done, and it can be done well. But mostly it is reserved for email correspondence, educational blogs, and manuscripts.
Side note: I always thought second person was weird. What if you portrayed your MC as a girl and it was a man reading your book “your high heels, your luscious long hair”, etc.
Third Person: This is the most frequently used form of writing. It is versatile in the fact that you can cover a variety of characters with your story and can illustrate the world from a panoramic view. It uses pronouns of “he”, “she”, and “it”, and allows you to get into any character’s head–even an animal’s, such as a dog.
E.g. John tapped his foot absentmindedly. The bustle of the coffee shop surrounded him, voices mingling in the air, a never ending buzzing drone. He wasn’t a coffee drinker–to be honest, he never liked the stuff. It was too bitter and reminded him of dirt. But he had found coffee shops to be the ideal place to meet strangers. His thoughts were on the woman he had met the other day–the incident. He hadn’t been able to get it out of his head, even now, his hands shook just thinking about it. She had tried to cover it up, tried to run away even. So why had she agreed to meet with him–a stranger, the only witness to the incident, but a stranger none the less? Seven minutes after. She was late…or not coming at all. He leaned forward on the table, raking a hand through his blond hair.
Homework: Decide which PoV you will use in your story. Commit to the view point, to your decision to write this story. You’re on an adventure, and it started when you conceived this brilliant idea. Write three paragraphs in your MC’s PoV in a setting of your choosing. Discover the “voice” of the character, get a feel for what they will sound like on paper. And for gravy’s sake, have fun!