When you are just starting a new project, one of the first things you must decide is which point of view to use.

Last week we covered choosing the best point of view character for your story. This week, we're going to look at the various types of POV: first person, second person, third person, and omniscient.

First Person Point Of View:

First person is used when the main character is telling the story. This is the kind that uses the "I" narrator. As a reader, you can only experience the story through this person's eyes. So you won't know anything about the people or events that this character hasn't personally experienced.

First Person Peripheral: This is when the narrator is a supporting character in the story, not the main character. It still uses the "I" narrator but since the narrator is not the protagonist, there are events and scenes that will happen to the protagonist that the narrator will not have access to.

Second Person Point Of View:

Second person point of view is generally only used in instructional writing. It is told from the perspective of "you".

Third Person Point Of View:

Third person POV is used when your narrator is not a character in the story. Third person uses the "he/she/it" narrator and it is the most commonly used POV in writing.

There are 3 main types of Third Person POV:

  • Third Person Limited: Limited means that the POV is limited to only one character. Which means that the narrator only knows what that character knows. With third person limited you can choose to view the action from right inside the character's head, or from further away, where the narrator has more access to information outside the protagonist's viewpoint.
  • Third Person Multiple: This type is still in the "he/she/it" category, but now the narrator can follow multiple characters in the story. The challenge is making sure that the reader knows when you are switching from one character to another. Make the switch obvious with chapter or section breaks.
  • Third Person Omniscient: This point of view still uses the "he/she/it" narration but now the narrator knows EVERYTHING. The narrator isn't limited by what one character knows, sort of like the narrator is God. The narrator can know things that others don't, can make comments about what's happening, and can see inside the minds of other characters.

Personally I am most comfortable using Third Person Omniscient POV. It's the only one that flows naturally for me.

What about you? Which POV do you prefer to use?