Third Person Point View Definition (HINT: There’s More Than One!)

Third person point view is by far the most common form of narration for new and seasoned authors alike. Take down anyone hundred books of fiction from your shelves – I’m sure you have that many! About eighty-five will be written from this perspective, nineteen from the first person and perhaps one or two using the second person POV, if you’re lucky! Third person narrative isn’t very intimate for the reader, but it does give the author enormous power, depending on the type used. How To Know When The Third Person Point View Is Being used You can recognize it by the use of words like ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’ and ‘they’, among others. It’s as though the narrator is floating around somewhere, either way up in the clouds seeing everything that goes on, or hovering over someone’s head, where the view is a bit more limited. Yes, I really like this way of thinking about it. Is the narrator a God, or simply a levitating, invisible human being? Onward – explanations are required. It might help if we take a moment to compare the three main narrative perspectives, how and why they are used. Later on in this post I’ll explain why the third person POV is used – previous posts discussed the first and second perspectives in some detail. Michael Levin discusses first and third person point view narratives in the video below: Examples Of First, Second & Third Person Point Of View Narration First of all, let’s kick off with the first person POV: ‘I turned the corner to see Malone with two of his gorillas. My insides turned over, but I didn’t let him see it. Why me? This is all a huge mistake. “Hello, James,” Malone said. My blood ran cold. I didn’t reply. I couldn’t.’ Now I’ll re-write this short (but incredibly well-written) passage in the 2nd person POV – excuse the abbreviations: ‘You turn the corner to see Malone with two of his gorillas. Your insides turn over, but you don’t let him see it. Why you? This is all a huge mistake. “Hello, James,” Malone said. Your blood runs cold. You don’t reply. You can’t.’ Notice how the ‘I’ and ‘my’ become ‘you’ and ‘your’. The tense has also changed to the present, although it doesn’t strictly need to. It just makes the experience more immediate and intimate, which is exactly this POV […]

First Person Point View – Why Use The First Person Perspective?

Point of view in a novel is an indication of who is telling the story. A story has to be told by someone who is a character or an observer who isn’t involved in the plot at all, a bit like the proverbial fly on the wall. In first person point view the narrator is someone in the story and he’s telling the reader about events from his point of view – he’s the ‘first person’ we are referring to. The reader can recognise this POV by the use of ‘I’ or ‘We’. The narrator could be the main character or a minor, support character. Why Use The First-Person Point of View? One of the best reasons for using it is if your writing is largely autobiographical and you want the reader to experience your world as you see or saw it. The advantage of first person point view is that it brings the reader closer to a specific character and see things through their eyes, which also shapes the reader’s perspective, coloured as it is by the narrator’s opinions about the events in the story. It’s easy to use as a beginner, because we are used to telling other people about things that happen in our lives, obviously from our own point of view. On the other side of the coin, it can be limiting. The reader can only know what the narrator knows, so the overall plot and information about the other characters must be presented in other ways. However, this does allow for the narrator to be surprised by plot twists, which tends to make it more convincing for the reader. A More Detailed Definition Of First Person Point View It isn’t that important if a main character is telling the story (Jane Eyre) or a support character (The Great Gatsby or Catcher In The Rye), the idea is that the reader’s get to see the whole Universe through their eyes, but beware – this kind of narrator is imperfect! They can’t be objective at all, as their observations are distorted by their own opinions and wishful thinking about possible outcomes. For example, they could ascribe motivations to another character out of ignorance and prejudice rather than factual evidence. The first person narrator’s background may also taint his awareness of events and things around him; a person from a poor upbringing will undoubtedly see world events in […]

Second Person Point View – Examples & Definition

Using the second person perspective in fiction isn’t that common, but it does happen, to various degrees of success. The most commonly used probably third person, and then the first. One of the reason for this is the second person point view is damn tricky to get right! It’s suited to professional and instructive documents, and for certain types of novel. You know it’s being used when the narrator uses words like ‘you’, ‘your’ and ‘you’re’. It’s a little limited in scope because of the view point – it’s as though the reader is experiencing what’s going on at firsthand. If it’s done well, then the reader truly becomes immersed in the story. If not, it becomes stilted and contrived, without serving to deliver the emotional involvement that the author is after. Does That Mean All Writing Using ‘You’ and ‘Your’ Is Second Person Point View? Well, not really. Marketers and other media professionals also use this personal form of writing to get a reader involved in a particular scenario, because it’s more intimate and immediate. Just like in fiction, it’s use puts the reader at the center of the piece. This is a powerful technique because it mirrors our own egocentricity – in our own minds we are always at the center of everything, so it sits well in our view point of the world. At times, you might see second person terms used in articles and on web-sites, like this blog for example, but this isn’t second person narrative. The writer is just speaking directly to the reader and so naturally refers to them as ‘you’, which can be singular or plural in its scope. In true 2nd person POV perspective, the author tries to get the reader to fell as though the events are happening to him or her in real-time. It’s hard to do, for sure and a new writer is probably better off beginning his career using the third person narrative style. The Benefits Can Outweigh The Difficulties Done well, this narrative form can be powerful. It’s realistic, it’s happening NOW, and there’s a lot of empathy – after all, the reader is the hero! How more immersed can you get? You just have to be careful that you’re not directing the reader too much, particularly pushing them in a direction they just don’t want to go. Seasoned authors tend to know a good deal about people’s […]

Narrative Writing Definition – Narrative Point of View

Narrative is essential in telling your story, because basically, it IS your story! OK, maybe that’s a bit strong – it’s more the way a story is told. A basic narrative writing definition goes like this; It’s any type of writing that tells a story in a chronological sequence of related events. Whenever a story is written or told, it is from a particular point of view, which means ‘Who is narrating the story?’ Narrative writing point of view examples will be given later on in the article, as they tend to drive the concept home more efficiently than dry definitions. One or two of these, such as second person point view, can seem pretty useless for most authors, but they all have a place. The Basics Of Narrative within your story Whose point of view you decide to tell the story from is important, because it directly affects the amount and the nature of the information given to your readers. Different narrative styles impact the way that characters emotions and motivations are understood. Without dialogue, this can be difficult. A good author will take the time to explore the possibilities of the different POVs and choose one that is just right for the story. Believe me, like all good quality novel planning, it isn’t time wasted, but an essential part of writing your story. Which Point Of View To Choose? The simple choice is between first, second, and third person points of view. While it’s true the second person POV is not used very much, due to the difficulty in manipulating sentence, tense and grammar structure, it shouldn’t be ruled out entirely – it depends on your writing. Even so, the first and third person POVs give great flexibility. You might prefer to have the main character tell the story in the first person narrative, or from the point of view of an observer, still using the first person. If you choose the third person POV, you can choose objective narration, where you can make the reader aware of everything that goes on, anywhere in the story – this is called omniscient. You can also use limited omniscience, limited that is, to the space occupied by the main character. Each style gives different types of information to the readers, so your choice of which one to use perspective will be according to what information you want to the reader […]