POV: Experimenting with Point of View
Every so often I like to experiment with my writing, as I’m sure most writers do—try something new, something taboo. Point of view in storytelling is the related experience of the narrator. New writers are told over and over again by people in the know to pick one point of view and stick with it throughout the story. In writing novels, that usually means either third person or first person with third person being preferred. I occasionally write in first person, but mostly stick with third. I never use second person point of view.
First person is written from a personal perspective. One character is telling the story and you as the reader only hear or see what that person hears, sees or thinks. You’re kept in the dark as to the thoughts of the other characters. First person: I heard the car door slam and knew the moment I’d been anxiously awaiting had finally arrived. This is all you’ll know until the person in the car comes to the door and interacts with the one telling the story. A narrator who sees and hears all the action and thoughts of all the characters writes in third person omniscient. Third person: She heard the car door slam and knew the moment she’d been anxiously awaiting had arrived. You get this, but then you may also hear what the person in the car is thinking. He climbed slowly from the car and started up the walk. His stomach churned with nausea. He knew the papers he held would change the woman’s life and he dreaded it.
In my new work “Love or Dangerous Liaison” I decided to try using multiple points of view—switching between first and third. There have been many famous novels using multiple points of view (Treasure Island being one), but it’s pretty much frowned on for novel writing especially for newer writers. I admit it’s challenging. I’ve caught myself writing in third person in a scene that should be in first person. It’s also a fun exercise for anyone who has a good feel for first and third person, but hasn’t tried using multiple points of view. I read books by new writers all the time and I admit I’ve come across a few where the POV was so confusing I lost interest. I’m trying to avoid confusion in this experiment of mine, but because I’m reading as the author, it’s hard for me to tell if it’s confusing or not. So far the reviewers have been kind and I very much appreciate their taking the time to read and comment.
Copyright Elizabeth Melton Parsons