Tea & Empathy for Writers

January 18, 2019

Creative Writing: Introduction to Fiction – 3

The glorious magic of creativity is the lack of requirements. Whether it’s pottery, paintings, music, or books, each creator has their own voice. It’s a good thing that we find kindred spirits in the creativity of others. It’s not a good thing when we try to copy them. When you find your “voice”, your critique groups, fans, agents, and editors will react with gusto and help you as you trek through the revision process, which when it works well, burgeons with creativity.

Point of View is the driving force of storytelling. It weaves emotion and the five senses into the fabric, adding color and sparkle. POV reveals the protagonist’s personality, their education, their strengths and weaknesses, their world perceptions, their beliefs, their goals and yearnings.

But, wait! There are all kinds of POV. Can they all do that? Not really. That’s why choosing a POV based on your genre and the story’s goals is important in choosing your POV. Each POV brings slightly different assets, and taking the time to learn to use the basic three is important—and then you can master the other less frequently used POVs in fiction.

First Person POV is most popular and used often in young adult fiction, because young readers like the immediacy of the story, including actions and reactions, feelings, and emotions. I do too. This is one of the reasons I’m a fan of Dickens.

In first person, the protagonist speaks to the reader directly. It uses pronouns such as me and I. The reader experiences their emotions, actions, and reactions at an intimate level.

Examples of first-person POV in popular novels include Twilight (most), Hunger Games, Evie and the Upside Down World of Nevermore, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Great Expectations, To Kill a Mockingbird, Moby Dick, Gone Girl, The Life of Pi.

Third Person Limited POV is the second most popular and commonly used in young adult fiction. It uses pronouns such as he and she when talking about the protagonist. It’s called limited because readers are limited to the POV of only the protagonist. Writers who use this style like it because it offers more flexibility to describe the surroundings and other characters, but it is still quite personal. This is a useful POV when the lead character has prominent sidekicks that are on the page almost as much as the lead. For example, the Harry Potter books uses third person limited primarily, which allows Hermione and Ron to reveal their perceptions of Harry and the events surrounding him.

Examples: The Giver, 1984, Cuckoo Calling, Hills Like White Elephants, Harry Potter, The Book Thief, Fahrenheit 451, Coraline, Little Fires Everywhere, Charlotte’s Web, The Lord of the Rings.

Omniscient Third Person POV is narrated by an all-knowing third person. It also uses he and she pronouns to tell the story, but the narrator has the ability to expose the motivations and thoughts of other characters objectively.

Omniscient POV fiction is often more complex, exploring a multiplicity of character studies. If that sounds exciting, it is, especially if you write family sagas or epic adventures. Your narrator has the advantage of knowing everything about every person in the book – a gossip on steroids.

Examples: Pride and Prejudice, Brokeback Mountain, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Mrs. Dalloway, Brave New World, Scarlett Letter, Da Vinci Code, Little Women.

Unfortunately, writers often forget to fill the driving force (machine) with gas before they start writing. As you plan your book, think carefully about how much you want the reader to know as your plot unfolds. Whom do you want to do the telling? Do you want everything the reader experiences to be only the things the narrator experiences, or do you want them to understand what other characters experience? How immediate to do you want the experience?

You know the protagonist who only gives other characters a long look or stares at the setting and doesn’t speak in movies and on television? Think Longmire, Jessie Stone, NCIS. Those looks are difficult to put on paper unless the reader knows what they’re thinking and feeling. Which POV would work best for you with characters like these? Or is your protagonist a twelve-year-old who can’t stop talking? Or maybe you write romances; do you want the reader to know how all the love interest are feeling and what they’re thinking?

Give it some thought and Write Like You Mean It! 



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