Character Creation 102: Choosing a POV

Welcome back to the RADblog! I hope you’ve all learned a little something out of our series so far this month. I know we all had a great deal of fun with Tammy over the last two months, but now your friendly neighborhood authorologist is here to blog through October. Mwahaha! You’re stuck with me! ;-)

For the month of September, I thought it’d be good to go back to our topic of those pesky characters we discussed back in May and June, but this time, I thought we should discuss how to write from them, instead of from us.

Character Creation 102: Point of View

Point of view, of course, is one of the trickier things for new writers to pick up on. Especially early on in our careers, we tend to pick a single point of view and stick it out to the bitter end, hoping that every story will work within that POV. And we would, of course, be wrong. See, there are three unique points of view, and each one should be used in specific circumstances. We have to learn how to write from all three, how to be proficient in them, and how to know when to use each one. That’s what we’ll be getting into today.

Now, in case any of you believed I wasn’t listening to your complaints all month long, I’ll tell you: I know point of view is not generally considered as a part of character creation. But I think that that’s wrongdoing on all our parts. Characters are the ones who decide what point of view they want to be written in, and so point of view should be determined while creating our characters.

Decision:

How to let your characters be the ones to choose your point of view

This is how I’ve always written. That’ll be why I’m an authority on this. I don’t know how to write in any other way, because I always write like this. I’ve always allowed my characters to be the ones who decide what point of view they wish to be written in.

I highly recommend it.

Start by making your characters. Go through your character sheets, design them all according to what you think these characters will need to be for your story. Try to get into their heads, to allow them to tell you who they are and what they’re doing in this story. At the very least, get your main character figured out.

Now, start writing.

I don’t care what point of view you write in. Neither should you. Just start writing. Do what comes naturally to you. Just start writing.

Now go back and rewrite that same scene in a different point of view.

Which one does your character like best?

That’s how you know which one to use when.

I know, it’s not a scientific solution, it’s nothing clever that’ll make an ah-ha moment or an equation that you can figure out on the basis of your character and your story. No, it’s something that you have to get a feel for, because that’s the way you should be writing. You shouldn’t be the one creating your whole story. Your characters are alive within the story, so let them live. Let them do what they want to do. You can edit things out later, don’t worry.

But, I did promise that I would tell you when to use each one. So, I’ll give you a little key that I’ve been known to use from time to time, particularly in short stories.

First person:
Use this when you want to be close to your character, when you don’t want an overabundance of detail, and when you want your readers to feel something, when you want an emotional response from those discovering your story.

Third person:
Use this when you want to understand as much as possible about your story, rather than your characters. Because third person allows you to explore more than just the thought life of a single character, third person allows us to really discover our worlds, and to elicit thought provocations.

Second person:
Use this when you want to create an intense physical reaction or response from your reader. Because second person allows us to take on the role of the reader, second person allows us to vie for change in the heart and mind of our reader.

And that’s it! That’s the whole secret to choosing your point of view.

Once you know it, it’s pretty darn easy. Deceptively so. 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.