Monday, August 30, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: The DL on POV

Point of view: an essential building block for any work of writing. But how much time do you spend thinking about it? Your choice of point of view can be an important tool for engaging your reader and revealing your characters. Let's reviews the choices:

First Person
Utilizes "I," as in: I went to the store today. I felt uneasy around the shoppers. First person is sometimes considered the easiest point of view, but it requires a great amount of understanding to work with. Because the entirety of your story must be conveyed through the one character, your perspective is limited. You are in danger of telling more often than showing. First person point of view provides a greater intimacy and is quite reader friendly, just be careful you are wielding it well.

Third Person
Relies on he, she, or they to tell the story (usually in past tense) and is quite common across all genres. Example: She wanted to go out last night to support her friends and felt guilty for feigning an illness to stay in instead. The story is told through one character and as with first person perspective, you are limited to what that character sees, hears, feels, experiences, or knows.

Allows for an all seeing, God-like perspective on the story, with the perspective jumping from character to character (remaining in one character's head one at a time). This perspective can be very revealing for readers, but is a handful to manage as the author. Omniscient perspective requires diligent attention to keep characters straight and reveal information through the right characters at the right time.

Second Person
Look for second person point of view in "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. This is the least commonly used point of view. Nobody wants to be told what they are feeling or what to do, and this is precisely what second person point of view hinges on: you. Most often executed in present tense, second person relies on the "you are..." perspective. Example: You are walking through the park and feel a sense of euphoria. The sun warms your face and you smile.

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