Things I wish I knew about Point of View when I started writing

Things I wish I knew about Point of View when I started writing.Point of View is one of those things that often takes a long time to get your head around (no pun intended), but once you do you can’t ‘not see it’ when writers ‘break’ the rules.

I recently re-read a book I’d loved as a teenager – a book that sold in the millions and even spawned a movie.

By today’s standards it’s was atrocious in terms of POV, which just goes to show how subjective we all are as readers.

More to the point, what’s acceptable today may not be acceptable in the decades to come.

While I’d encourage people to stick with a single POV per scene, it’s really only a guideline. Do whatever works for you and your readers.

Here’s some more advice you might like to consider:

“Point of view is the best way to get in a characters mind.”
Era Metko

“Be sure to stay within one point of view until a scene change.” Glendon Perkins

“Stick to one per scene. No head-hopping!” Robin Lythgoe

“Understand POVs.  Read the definitions of First, Second, Third, Omniscient, etc.  Realise head hopping is OKAY if that is what you intend.  Don’t let people tell you you can’t do it, because they think it’s wrong.  It’s not wrong, it’s just not their choice.” Vanessa MacLellan

“I wish I’d known that after two books in a trilogy written in first-person, my third book would have to be written from multiple POV. I probably would have done it the same way, but I would have thought a lot harder about the choice.” Blanca Florido

“As a reader I get confused when an author changes viewpoints (head hops) in the same scene unless something else makes it obvious.” Mark Mercieca

“Use whatever POV works best for you and your story – no matter what everybody else says.” Victoria Adams

“I tend to define my narrator as a character. This helps focus my story by limiting what can be told through the narrator’s understanding of events as opposed to my author’s perspective. I attribute motive to a narrator as well, colouring the story with their agenda. Sometimes what they omit or change is as informative as what they relate.” Kelly Martin

“Nothing can break a reader’s attention quicker than a change in the point of view. Tread very carefully when adding more than one, and make sure it is necessary for the story. No amount of revision will smooth out a piece of writing when a point of view is in the wrong place.” Chantelle Griffin

“I would recommend staying with the same POV throughout your novel, except you might slip into an omniscient viewpoint if no POV character is present in the scene, and perhaps if it’s in first person and that character dies.” Mark Mercieca

“Play with POVs, especially on the first draft, but even when editing. You could discover a new perspective that brings light in an otherwise horribly confusing chapter.” Era Metko

“POV is most effective when the narrator shares the “voice” of the POV character (regardless of whether you’re writing first person, third person, whatever). This makes for a more interesting narration and can help to orient the reader when switching POVs (your hitman probably narrates in short, terse sentences with the occasional swear; your sassy teen probably narrates with slang).” Madison Dusome

“As a story progresses it should become clear “Why” the narrator is interested in telling the particular story. If the reader can’t figure out “Why” the narrator cares about the story, then it is going to be more difficult for the reader to care about the story.” Kelly Martin

2 thoughts on “Things I wish I knew about Point of View when I started writing”

  1. Yeah, you know, I’ve actually become really sensitive when it comes to “head hopping.” They did it in older novels, but I think its just a bad idea. I see a lot of rookie writers doing it. I don’t think publishers and agents take kindly to it anymore!

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