Friday, June 24, 2011

Point of View

One of the panels I was on at DucKon 20 this past weekend was “Points of View (techniques of using POV to tell a story)”. As moderator, I listed some of the choices for the audience:
third person omniscient
third person POV (close focus)
first person POV
second person POV

The questions I used to start the panel were
How do you decide which POV to use?
Do you know beforehand that you need certain viewpoints?

The trend in current YA and middle grade seems to be first person POV, while in science fiction the trend has been third person. I knew I was already messing up expectations because I usually write my YA fantasy with a third person limited POV, but I found the rest of the panel was comprised of all first person POV writers. Mystery, horror, science fiction and fantasy were all represented. For most, which POV was used was dependent on how the main character first came across on paper. Others rewrote with different points of view until the story worked. I used third person in The Crystal Throne and Talking to Trees because I used several characters' points of view. Another panelist had several characters, but used first person for each.

Then the audience and panelists were queried as to what POV they prefer to read. Some thought third person omniscient was too distancing and preferred first person. Some liked multiple viewpoints and thought third person omniscient was best for epics. When the discussion got into which POVs were gaining in popularity for writing, some blamed the increase in first person POV stories on texting or Twitter or the popularity of “diary” books.

What POV do you prefer to read or write?


  1. Kathy, I seldom write in first person and I seldom read it. Perhaps this is a generational thing but I find for me the story is constricted by reading a first person story. I find for me this works great in mysteries but that's all. To me often the first person tone becomes like a long whine.

  2. I love writing in first person. I did this one experiment in my creative writing class and wrote a chapter of my current project in both third and first person. EARRINGS felt just right in third person. My current YAs are all in first person. Once again it's because it captures my 'voice' better.

    And it depends on what book I'm reading on which POV I prefer though lately I've been leaning toward first person as I skim over all the details that I find are in third person.

    Kim Baccellia

  3. I normally write in 3rd person, but have also done 1st. (Latest manuscript, Inner Demons, was all 1st person.)

    As an author, I use whichever method lends best to the story. I've had short stories stall because the POV wasn't right for the work and when I switched all fell into place.

    As for reading preference? I'll take whatever tells the story best. I do find 1st person to be very personal, but it does have some restraints. 1st person can actually be very difficult to write in correctly, so it's something to be kept in mind for those who want to give writing int that POV a shot. Overall, I guess what I'm saying is that I don't use POV as a point on whether I read a work or not. If the book is done well, I'll enjoy it regardless. :P