Updated: Mar 4, 2019
We're not talking about opinions or complaints to the BBC, we're talking about the narrative perspective from which the story is told.
'Editing’ by Helen Corner-Bryant and Kathryn Price
says 'The point of view you choose can have a big impact on everything in your story – from its mood and atmosphere through to the way the reader perceives and interprets your characters'.
The Art of Fiction’ by David Lodge
goes further when he says the point of view is arguably, 'the most important single decision the novelist has to make, for it fundamentally affect the way the readers will respond.'
In 'The First Five Pages,' Noah Lukeman says
'Viewpoint and narration compromise a delicate, elaborate façade, in which one tiny break or inconsistency can be disastrous, the equivalent of striking a dissonant chord in the midst of a harmonious musical performance'.
Most of us have, at some time, refereed a childhood squabble where everyone passionately believes their own truth: Abigail is sure Bobby kicked the ball in her face on purpose and Bobby insists he was distracted by the dog. If you write the story from Abigail's point of view it will be very different from Bobby's.
So what are your options for Point of View (POV). Well there it could be:
First person – simply, this is when the ‘I’ (or ‘We’) tells the story. This is the way you’d naturally tells a story about something that happened to you and you were probably asked to write this way as a child when your teacher asked you to write a daily ‘news’ exercise or an essay on ‘what I did during the holidays’.
Third person – the narrative is told referring to ‘he’ or ‘she’. This the way you’d naturally tells stories about other people. There are two main ways to use third person narrative: close (or limited) or omniscient (or roaming)
Third person close/limited – this is where the entire story is told by a single narrator but only from the viewpoint of one character. Imagine the story teller was sat on the shoulder of the character for whom they are telling the story with occasional insight to what that character thinks or feels. They can’t tell us about things that happened when this character wasn’t present because they can only interpret evens from the characters point of view.
Omniscient/ Third person roaming – the story teller sees and knows all. They are privy to the thoughts and feelings of all the characters in a story and there are no barriers to what they might witness because they can access to all areas of the story.