How do you choose which point of view to use?

Lately, I have read and thought a lot about point of view. I have read that most fantasy novels are written in the third person point of view and most romance novels are written in the first person point of view. Arguments for the reason fantasy is usually written in third person include the idea that fantasy novels usually have new worlds and new types of creatures that most humans do not have personal experience with. Romance novels want to offer their readers a connection to the main character, they want the reader to feel what the protagonist is feeling and first person point of view allows this connection more readily.

I have completed two young adult novels both are written in the third person point of view.

The first novel I wrote was a simple YA realistic fiction story in which every other chapter focused on either the male or the female main characters. The narration was subjective as readers learned the feelings and thoughts of both characters. This worked for the novel because it was important that readers learned to love both characters equally but the overall plot of the story remained the focus. There was a certain degree of omniscience to the telling of the novel by doing it this way.

The second novel I finished was a much longer and much more detailed YA fantasy story. This was written in the third person subjective but limited point of view. This story followed the protagonist on her journey. Readers only had insight into what the protagonist was thinking, feeling or experiencing but also got back stories that I do not think a first person telling would have allowed for as easily. It made the protagonist the focus but also allowed a certain degree of attention to stay on the world and culture in which the character lived.

My current WIP is being told in the first person point of view through journal entries, dream flashbacks and present day experiences. This novel is also a young adult fantasy story but has some paranormal elements. This style has made the readers relationship with the main character more personal and allowed for a certain degree of suspense.

When I sit back and analyse the point of view of the above mentioned stories I realise how well they work for those stories. I wish that I could sit back and say that I set out to write them that way, but that would have taken planning and I am too much of a pantser for that.

Do you set out in the planning stage of a novel which point of view to use?

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About Billie Jo Schinnerer

Born and raised on the edge of the Helderberg Escarpment in eastern New York. Formerly a primary and middle school teacher. Moved to the North West area of England in 2003. Now a mother of three and a wannabe author.
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12 Responses to How do you choose which point of view to use?

  1. Jody Moller says:

    My first two novels were, very deliberately, written in the first person. The first one because I wanted the reader to fall in love along with my main character, I also didn’t feel comfortable writing a limited point of view story and I wanted to keep the reader in the dark about certain elements. My second novel, again was deliberately first person as the metamorphosis of my character is the focal point and I felt that seeing how my protagonst viewed herself was the best way to achieve that. My next book (which except for three chapters I wrote to cement the idea in my brain is still in the planning stage) is written in the third person…. mostly because I just wanted to see if I could!

    • I admire your ability to plan Jody! I wish I could do that. I have the desire to see if I can do something in second person like maybe a flash fiction piece just to see if I could and if I could do it with any degree of success. I certainly would have to plan that though because it would be well out of my comfort zone.

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  3. Kristi Bernard says:

    Currently, I am using 1st person POV for my character in my MG novel. In picture books I use the same. I guess it is the preference of the writer.

    • I think first person POV works really well for MG novels. When I was that age I almost viewed the characters in books as either extensions of myself or friends, first person would allow for this more than third person.

  4. Antimony says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog :)
    I had forgotten all about wordpress! I tend to use Blogger.

    A x

  5. I don’t. But I don’t really plan anything. Just sit down and start writing. My first drafts are where I figure all that stuff out.
    You’re right about how important POV is. If it’s not right the whole thing just tanks!

  6. Selena Wolff says:

    I’m definitely a pantser myself, with the tendency to write third person. Writing in the first person is hard for me, because all my characters become like me.

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