Choosing the best point of view for your novel can be difficult.
Each point of view has its own characteristics. Some are better suited for some things than others.
It all depends on what you want to do with your novel.
So What Is Your Novel About?
- Is it a suspense thriller all about keeping the reader guessing what happens next?
- Is it a historical romance whose intent is to stir emotions of love?
- Is it a coming of age novel designed to portray a young man’s confusion about his place in life?
- Perhaps it’s an epic portraying an entire era in history.
Whatever it is, once you understand this, you will know how to choose the best point of view.
What’s The Best Point Of View To Serve My Purpose?
Like I said, each point of view has its own characteristics.
One will work better than another depending on what you want to portray.
So let’s take a look at the two major POVs in depth.
First Person POV
The first person POV is when the narrator uses “I” and “me”.
This is great if you want to portray the world through the eyes of a single individual.
For example, The Red Badge of Courage portrays the horrors of war as experienced through the eyes of a single soldier.
The reader is in the thick of things and closer to the action. You involve them much more on an emotional level.
This would be great for a romance or coming of age story.
But, be careful! The 1st person narrator does have its limitations.
Think about it. If someone keeps telling you how hard his life is or how great he is it isn’t as believable as if you hear it from someone else. Right?
If the 1st person narrator talks about himself too much he will lack credibility.
This is where a variation of this point of view comes in handy; first person reported.
But, maybe you want an unbelievable narrator. Maybe this would be great for a suspense novel. Who knows?
These are the questions to ask yourself when deciding which is the best point of view to use.
Third Person Point Of View
The scope of a first person narrator is typically limited to the things that he experiences in his life.
He can tell his own story or the story of someone he knows. But he can never really enter the thoughts of that person.
It becomes a completely different story when you use the third person narrator.
There are a number of variations of the third person point of view. But, essentially, this is when the narrator talks about “them” as opposed to “me”.
The scope of the third person narrator is like viewing things from a mountain top. You can see much more can’t you?
The third person is perfect for stories that cover large events with many people like War and Peace or The Lord of the Rings.
Just like there are variations of first person there are a few variations of third as well.
You can use a third person omniscient narrator who knows the thoughts of everyone.
Or, you can use a third person limited narrator who can’t enter the heads of the characters. He just portrays their actions.
The best point of view, and which variation of that view you use, will all be based on what you want to do with your novel. So decide that first.
Then dig deeper into the various points of view to make sure you’re making the right choice.