A few thoughts on point of view

Some stories demand to be written in first person because you need the intimacy of the narrator’s voice. Others cannot be, for the same reason — you don’t want the reader to know everything that’s going on in one person’s head so you need to get out of it at least sometimes. Also being stuck in one person’s head can be boring and restrictive.

However, if the first person is chosen for a compelling reason, it can lead to a compelling novel because you are always closer to the story. First person present tense is the closest. First person past tense second closest. Then limited third person present tense. Then limited third past tense. Then you can go back and forth between two characters. There are various other options until you get to omniscient, when you can go into whomever’s head you want to, whenever you want to.

Choosing point of view (pov) and then sticking with the rules associated with that pov (e.g., if you’re telling the story in limited third person you can’t suddenly jump into another pov, at least not if you want me to believe what you are doing) is one of the most important decisions the writer makes.

That said, all rules are made to be broken, but only if you know what you’re doing.

P.S. #1 If I am writing in third person and it isn’t working properly, sometimes I will write a section in first person until I get the “voice” or the feel of what I’m doing with the character, then change it back.

P.S. #2 A reviewer once said I’d written a story in second person because it was written “You did this,” and “You did that.” But that’s not second person. That’s first person because it is always an “I” point of view when you have a “you” in the picture. I don’t think you can write in second person.

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