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?