Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Point of View, Part Two

I hope you're getting a nugget or two of things to think about when it comes to point of view. At the very least, just being more conscious of the different types and what it means for your writing can be just another tool for you to use if things aren't going well.

Second Person POV: I grew up reading those Choose Your Own Adventure books. Loved them. With these books YOU become the protagonist. Rare these days, but still fun.

Third Person Limited POV: I personally write most of my stuff in this POV. I feel it gives my reader a chance to still get cozy with my main character without limiting them to just one protagonist. I write stories with subplots and such, and I like using the episodic (multiple) version of 3rd Person Limited. Some authors will change the viewpoint (not the POV) with each chapter. Other times, if an author is changing viewpoints, they might denote that with a hard break of some sort. I use # # # #, for example.

Third Person Limited Pros:
1)With this POV, the author gets to show you the viewpoint from multiple characters, which can also give the story and characters more development and dimension. You can get into the mind of the villain and/or secondary characters. This POV is great for bigger stories with multiple story arcs.

2) It allows for a lot of dramatic irony - the reader might know something the protagonist doesn't know.

3) You get the best of both worlds: you can still create that closeness between your reader and your protagonist(s), like First Person POV, but you can also give us the thoughts of other characters, similar to 3rd Person Omniscient.

Third Person Limited Cons:
1) I don't recommend this POV for beginning writers. It is very difficult to maintain the limited nature of this POV at times. I'm constantly having to go back and edit things. For example:

Tom smiled. (If you're writing in 3rd person limited, and we're seeing things from Tom's perspective, this doesn't make sense).

So we have to change it to: Tom felt a smile creep across his face.

2) You have to keep track of so much stuff (if writing in 3rd Person Episodic/Multiple). Since you're entering the viewpoint of multiple characters one at a time, you're giving the reader multiple perspectives...think about that. You not only have to keep plot straight, but each character's thoughts and perceptions straight as well.

3) It's a lot of work to make each characters' voice distinct. If you're using multiple viewpoints, it will take a lot of skill to make sure each voice is different from each other. Not as easy as it sounds.

Third Person Omniscient POV: Still very popular, where the narrator is an unknown all-knowing being. Here, we get the perspectives of any and all characters in any given scene. There's two main types of Omniscient: Subjective and Objective. The easiest way to distinguish between the two is to think of Objective as a "fly on a wall." Just an outside observer that doesn't delve into any of the characters' minds. I'm going to focus on 3rd Person Subjective, since it's much more common these days.

Third Person Omnicient Pros:
1) It's one of the oldest forms of storytelling, so the reader is already very familiar with this mode of POV

2) The reader gets to know multiple characters at the same time. From a writer's standpoint, it's very liberating to not be so confined.

3) If you're writing a gigantic, epic story, this is the POV you should really use. If your story spans years, worlds, and tons of characters, this is the way to go.

Third Person Omniscient Cons:
1) Since you're entering multiple characters even within one scene, it's easy to confuse the reader. Hopping from one person's thoughts to another can make for a mess.

2) Sometimes, your story will lack that intimacy they might have with their protagonist. Since you're giving us everyone's thoughts, the reader might feel that distance.

3) Since your narrator is all-knowing, the reader can be left in the dark with some things to build suspense, but it can be tricky in this POV, as we've all read stories with surprises and twists and we felt manipulated by the narrator. So the risk of being gimmicky is always there with 3rd Person Omniscient (think M. Night Shamalanalannadingdong).


33 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Excellent series, Jay! I did start with third person limited and you're right about going back and fixing things.

Rusty Webb said...

Funny about the 'Tom smiled' thing. As I am not a fan of the 'Tom felt/heard/saw/tasted' tags. There is some license allowed there, the reminders that the character is experiencing the action or emotion can get very wearisome.

So, with me at least, I take most of those out when I'm editing. No all, but most.

Kelley said...

Great job Jay! I like writing in third person limited for essentially the same reasons you mention.

Though I do also like first person, which you discussed earlier. It's all about what feels right for the story :)

Jay Noel said...

Alex: Thanks! It's a pain, as it's easy to slip into 3rd person omniscient.

Rusty: I like dialog beats, as I'm a visual person and need to be able to see what's going on. Although, I'm a strong believer in the tag "said." It's invisible. But just like anything, you can't go overboard on everything - so I use dialog beats when necessary (show action but also characterization). Balance is key.

Kelley:I like writing 3rd limited, and I enjoy reading 1st person too. For some reason, 3rd omniscient to me gets a little distracting. I feel like I'm all over the place.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I would say "Tom smiled". I guess that makes me a bad writer. Do I care? Not one bit. There are a ton of bad writers out there that get published and some make millions.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I had to laugh at Michael's comment about bad writers getting published. I don't know about you, but sometimes I have a hard time shutting my internal editor up when I'm reading. But in the end, the "errors" I uncover in that book don't amount to a hill of bean, because THAT writer is published. Game, set, and match.

Great post.

Jay Noel said...

Michael: I would put "Tom smiled" too, but maybe catch it when editing is making sure I keep the 3rd limited viewpoint consistent. But then again, I am a perfectionist (unfortunately).

Susan: No book is completely without errors. As long as it doesn't interfere with my reading, it's no biggie. Even big time authors do a forehead slap when they go back and read their stuff and find mistakes!

Ciara said...

This is great, Jay. I should have read this before I began writing. :) Oh, check out Stephen Tremps blog on Feb 23rd. I did a post playing off the old adventure books where you choose your fate. :)

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I used 3rd person limited in my very first novel. I really want to go back to it and re-write it... All my other ones have been 1st person. I think I write better this way. BUT, it totally depends on the book. :) Nice to meet you!

nutschell said...

I find it easier to write in 3rd Person limited, although sometimes I wish I could do just as well using first person--might be better for the YA I'm writing.

MaryAnn Pope said...

I prefer 3rd limited too. I love the ability to delve into other character's POV, but I also love a close POV.

To me it is the easiest. Omniscient is the hardest to pull off. Head hoping is so tempting, and sometimes it feels like a ping pong game going from one head to the other during a conversation. It can be really annoying.

It is so hard to subtly slip from one character's mind to the other without being confusing or drawing too much attention to it.

Third person limited just comes more naturally to me.

Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings said...

Hi Jay! I love these two points. They are so informative. It is a nice refresher. I appreciate your thorough dilaogue on each perspective. I can see after reading this how easily a writer can make some mistakes. I would be interested to see your thoughts on the stream of conscious format! Keep up with the great work.

Emily R. King said...

Third person limited is how I'm writing my current WiP. I find it easier to switch viewpoints in the same chapter, but try not to do it unless I have to. Whoever's POV starts the chapter should end the chapter, in my opinion.
Thanks for the refresher course!

Jay Noel said...

Ciara: If you pick the door on the right, go to page 184...Oh man, I used to cheat if I ended up dying. Can't wait to enter your contest!

Chantele: Thanks for stopping by. The thought of going back and rewriting in a whole different POV is exhausting!

Nut: I'm the same way. I'd like to keep trying to get better at 1st person.

Heidi: Thanks so much! I enjoy reading stream of consciousness. You don't see too much of it, because it's difficult to pull off.

Emily: Chapters make natural breaks. But sometimes, if I change scenes within a chapter, I'll do a hard break. I do it to convey two events happening simultaneously.

Dafeenah said...

Great post. I look forward to more of these. I always get carried away with the POV I start from one end and end up going to another so I'm constantly having to edit. Sometimes I catch myself mid-sentence. It really is a lot to remember. Thanks for sharing.

The Desert Rocks said...

Oh I love reading about my weaknesses. Hopefully something you wrote will stick. :)

Jay Noel said...

Dafeenah: I tend to slip into a little 3rd person omniscient when writing limited. But that's what editing is for.

Eve: You have weaknesses???

Ciara said...

Jay - I was a cheater with those books, too. LOL I hope you like my post on Stephen Tremp's blog tomorrow. I LIVED for those books when I was young. Yay! I can't wait to see your entry. :)

Jay Noel said...

Ciara: I had so much fun taking that picture. I had made a cyborg costume for my son for Halloween, and I just happened to have my mask handy!

Milo James Fowler said...

What are your thoughts on head-hopping within a scene? I've run up against editors who absolutely will not stand for it, yet I find it in many of the books I read.

M Pax said...

I uusually write 3rd person limited, too. I don't like the distance with the omniscient POV.

Jay Noel said...

Milo: To me, head-hopping (not to be confused with 3rd person omniscient) is for true masters. What's funny is, I see beginning writers often write in this POV with their first project. It takes a true master to pull this one off.

Stephen King has been known to use this. If you dare try this POV, then you have to make extra sure the reader KNOWS who's head we're in.

The difference between "head hopping" and 3rd person omniscient is distance. Head hopping is much more intimate.

Mary: Exactly. I'm with you there. Plus, if you're writing with a little suspense or dramatic twist, 3rd person omniscient tends to make readers feel deceived.

Jenna Howard said...

I dunno, head-hopping is just horrible. HORRIBLE. Not even the true masters do it successfully. Once Nora Roberts did the dog's POV. I dunno about that...

Carl Duzett said...

In "Hills Like White Elephants," Hemingway head-hops seamlessly all over the place without you even realizing it. Not all POV rules are hard and fast.

Of course, for myself, I'm going to stick to Limited Third. No Hemingway here.

One J said...

christian louboutin sale
oakley sunglasses wholesale
hollister clothing
coach factory
michael kors outlet
ray ban sunglasses
louis vuitton
louis vuitton
gucci outlet
michael kors bag
louis vuitton outlet
christian louboutin shoes
gucci handbags
michael kors
michael kors outlet
fitflops
true religion
pandora charms
coach factory outlet
kids lebron james shoes
christian louboutin outlet
michael kors watches
louis vuitton handbags
coach factory outlet
20150609yuanyuan

Junda Xu said...

20150724 junda
ray ban sunglasses
kate spade bags
oakley sunglasses sale
ray bans
tory burch shoes
cheap ray ban sunglasses
michael kors handbags
true religion outlet
gucci uk
kate spade bags
kate spade
jordan shoes uk
coach outlet
fitflops shoes
ralph lauren pas cher
gucci sito ufficiale
burberry sale
hollister kids
chanel bags
louis vuitton borse
true religion sale
coach outlet
ed hardy clothing outlet
tory burch outlet online
ray bans
kate spade new york
cheap jordans free shipping
oakley sunglasses wholesale
michael kors
michael kors outlet online
replica watches for sale
michael kors bags
pandora jewelry sale
cheap oakley sunglasses
ray bans
ed hardy outlet
mont blanc
kate spade handbags
pandora charms
christian louboutin shoes

John said...

ray bans
tory burch outlet
air max 95
louboutin pas cher
nike roshe runs
mcm outlet
prada
insanity workout
instyler curling iron
fitflop uk
oakley sunglasses wholesale
cheap oakleys
gucci
juicy couture
north face
ed hardy clothing
coach outlet canada
michael kors outlet online
nike roshe run women
ghd hair straighteners
ralph lauren
gucci shoes
mulberry handbags
ugg sale
gucci outlet
mizuno running shoes
timberland uk
christian louboutin uk
cheap jerseys
giuseppe zanotti sneakers
rolex watches
2015923yuanyuan

John said...

canada goose jackets
lebron 12
canada goose jackets
air max 90
gucci outlet
cheap nfl jerseys
oakley sunglasses
ugg boots
ugg boots for men
coach outlet online
cheap jordans
cheap oakley sunglasses
michael kors outlet online
louis vuitton
christian louboutin outlet
michael kors outlet clearance
celine bags
toms shoes
gucci handbags
michael kors outlet
louis vuitton outlet
canada goose outlet
ray ban sunglasses outlet
louis vuitton handbags
pandora jewelry
oakley sunglasses wholesale
canada goose outlet
louis vuitton outlet stores
ugg boots
vans shoes
oakley sunglasses
20151105yuanyuan

mmjiaxin said...

rolex watches,rolex watches,swiss watches,watches for men,watches for women,omega watches,replica watches,rolex watches for sale,rolex replica,rolex watch,cartier watches,rolex submariner,fake rolex,rolex replica watches,replica rolex
air jordan 13
michael kors outlet uk
lebron shoes
fitflops clearance
louis vuitton bags
true religion outlet
ray-ban sunglasses
hollister clothing
air max 2014
timberland shoes
michael kors handbags outlet
ed hardy clothing
rolex watches,rolex,watches for men,watches for women,omega watches,replica watches,rolex watches for sale,rolex replica,rolex watch,cartier watches,rolex submariner,fake rolex,rolex replica watches,replica rolex
nike roshe run women
tory burch outlet online
nike trainers
ugg outlet
snapbacks wholesale
fitflops uk
mm0114

chenlili said...

chenlili20160301
fitflops
cheap nfl jerseys
nike trainers
oakley sunglasses wholesale
michael kors outlet
michael kors
tods shoes
cheap soccer shoes
ray ban
lebron james shoes
abercrombie and fitch
polo outlet
ray ban sunglasses
the north face
cheap jordans
cheap oakley sunglasses
canada goose outlet
hollister clothing
cheap oakley sunglasses
michael kors outlet stores
nike running shoes
tods outlet
toms shoes
louis vuitton outlet
louboutin pas cher
hollister clothing
oakley sunglasses wholesale
hollister
ugg outlet store
mulberry handbags
michael kors outlet
swarovski jewelry

林磊 said...

2016-3-17 leilei
air max
michael kors bags
michael kors handbags
pandora jewelry
jordan pas cher
michael kors bags
kate spade outlet
valentino shoes
ray bans
under armour shoes
nike cortez shoes
reebok outlet
coach outlet online
michael kors outlet
burberry outlet
jimmy choo shoes
prada handbags
fitflops shoes
toms shoes
gucci borse
nike air max 95
cheap oakley sunglasses
timberland boots
levis 511
lululemon sale
coach factory online
converse shoes
sac longchamp pliage
polo ralph lauren outlet
designer handbags outlet
michael kors watches
louboutin
ray ban sunglasses
levis jeans
ralph lauren
rolex daytona
air max 90
micahel kors
nike trainers
canada goose sale

Gege Dai said...

hxy2.08
louis vuitton borse
tiffany jewellery
coach outlet online
pandora outlet
oakley sunglasses wholesale
louis vuitton
polo ralph lauren
toms shoes
swarovski outlet
chrome hearts outlet

aaa kitty20101122 said...

adidas online shop
http://www.kobebasketballshoes.us.com
fitflops
links of london outlet store
five finger shoes
atlanta falcons jersey
pandora jewelry
michael jordan shoes
links of london
jordan shoes

Post a Comment