Why Think About Point of View?
Storytelling is still alive and well in 2018. Storytelling continues as an art form and also a competition. The best storytellers know that selecting the main character for a tale and choosing a narrator are sometimes different choices. The main character may not be the best voice to tell a story from.
Choice of a Narrator Makes or Breaks a Story
Instead of an abstract summary, I give two examples of novels in which a narrator introduces and sets the stage for the main character. Both the following narrators mentioned they made all the difference in the tone and excitement in each novel. Below I refer to two authors who have used POV well. Both have chosen not use their main character to tell their fictional story.
A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes book written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, published in July 1888. Doctor Watson, our narrator, tells the reader of the numerous fantastic feats of intelligence shown by Holmes. Thus respect, admiration, and anticipation build for the reader.
Holmes could not narrate his story without being suspected of being a liar, an egotistical man or a delusional individual.
The Book Thief is a 2005 historical novel by Australian author Markus Zusak. Set in Nazi Germany during World War II, the narrator is none other than Death himself. Death does his rounds taking both the innocent and the guilty, the children and the adults, the soldiers, and civilians.
On a train, Death spies a young girl. He takes her brother. The train stops so the boy can be buried. That’s when Death witnesses the girl steal a book.
Later, we find that the girl can’t read.
A Challenge for Fiction Writers
- What are my choices?First Person POV
- Second Person POV
- Third Person POV
- Who should tell my story and how does my choice limit my story?This depends on how you want your story to be received.
- This is often influenced by the genre you write in. Example: Most memoirs are written in the first person.
- Often folk tales or myths are told in the Third Person.
- What feeling do I want to leave my readers with?
- Does your story end well or happily?
- Is your story a mystery where the bad guy is caught?
- Do you want your readers to empathize with more than one character? This third section needs to be discussed on a book by book basis.
Why I Switched POV for My First Mystery
I wrote my entire first novel in a close third-person point of view but after ten revisions the book still lacked something. So, I envisioned my story told from the first person point of view. After I had revised my first chapter into first person POV–Voilà!
My story acquire the ZING I thought it needed.
Facing revising book number two in my series, Dog Leader Mysteries, I want to get it right sooner. I believe the best POV choice will be to tell the story from two or three characters’ points of view.
My secondary characters will set out on solo investigation scenes. That means I must learn to shift from to one character’s first-person POV to another character’s viewpoint.
Wish me luck.
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