"When one is writing a novel in the first person, one must be that person." - Daphne du Maurier

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9 Tips for Choosing and Using the Right Point of View

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Most popular point of view types in stories
Select your viewpoint character with care
Streamline writing by cutting perception fallacy
Avoid shifting point of view in your story
Create intimacy with narrator via first-person 
When to use first-person minor in stories
Types of third-person point of views 
Use third–person limited for greater clarity
Rotate third-person limited to avoid issues
• BONUS: "Writing stories is like making love." - June Gillam

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



First-person point of view

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Elements of Fiction

How to Write a Bestselling Novel:
In
7 Minutes a Day to Your Bestseller, writers receive expert advice on topics like motivating yourself to write, starting your story with exciting opening lines, creating intriguing characters, mastering the craft of writing to elevate your style, and pitching your story to potential publishers.


Use third-person objective for neutral narration

A popular Miniature-figures-2922959_1920third-person point of view in fiction is third-person objective. This occurs when a narrator outside of the story tells what occurs without giving the characters’ internal thoughts, opinions or feelings.

Consider the following passage, written in third-person objective:

The valley below them stretched deep and black. On the ridge above was only scrub and rock with a stout, teetering stone wall at the edge. The sun rising behind the ridge had just begun to warm the wall and lift the shadows from the valley. The Californian and the girl with him sat on the wall where it remained upright, where rain and wind had yet to erode the granite at the ridge’s edge. In a half-hour, light would fully wash the dark from the valley, allowing the small river running through it to be seen.

“Want a cigarette?” the girl asked. She opened her macrame satchel that sat between them.

The Californian fished a lighter from his pocket. “Sure.”


Notice how the passage utilizes an uninvolved narrator who is unnecessary to the progression of the plot. The narrator is not a character in the story and merely tells what happened. The narrator’s viewpoint is that of a camera on a wall relaying pictures of the scene.

Because of this, the narrator only states the observable actions and dialogue but not what is going on inside the characters’ minds. We have no idea what the characters are thinking as they watch the shadow rise over the valley or what they feel about one another. Their internal thoughts and emotions are only inferred or spoken aloud.

The advantage of third-person objective is that the dehumanized narrator delivers an unbiased, neutral telling of the story. This “just the facts, ma’am” approach allows readers to make their own decisions about the ethics of the characters’ behavior without the taint of the narrator’s emotions, The disadvantage is that an emotional distance exists between the reader and the story’s characters. This can prevent readers from identifying with and liking characters.

An excellent example of third-person objective in literature is Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Hills Like White Elephants.”

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



4 Tips on Using Third-Person Point of View

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Use third–person limited for greater clarity
Rotate third-person limited to avoid issues
Types of third-person point of views 
Select your viewpoint character with care

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



11 Tips to Choosing the Right Point of View

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What is point of view in a story? 
Heighten tension with consistent point of view 
Most popular point of view types in stories 
Create intimacy with narrator via first-person 
When to use first-person minor in stories
Use third–person limited for greater clarity
Rotate third-person limited to avoid issues
Types of third-person point of views 
Select your viewpoint character with care 
Avoid shifting point of view in your story 
Streamline writing by cutting perception fallacy

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



When to use first-person minor in stories

Among the Hand-1701969_1920 lesser used yet most powerful of point of views is first-person minor. This point of view occurs when the narrator is in the story but is not the protagonist. It can be identified by the use of I/me. It sometimes is referred to as first-person peripheral.

Several famous novels and stories have been told in first-person minor. Perhaps among the most famous of them are Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

First-person minor ought to be used whenever the author wants to:
• Provide a clear perspective about what has occurred because the protagonist is incapable of doing so. This usually is the case when the protagonist doesn’t grow or develop over the course of the story, though the narrator does or the reader will.
• Hide what’s going on inside the character’s head. This usually is done to keep some secret about him or to create an aura of coolness.
• Utilize a protagonist that is difficult for readers to relate to. This would be the case with an extremely alien character in a science fiction story.
• Kill the protagonist at the end of the story. Because of this, the main character can’t narrate what occurred as he’s dead, unless the story is written in present tense.

Of course, there are many instances when the author wouldn’t want to use first-person minor:
• When the protagonist grows and develops, getting inside his heads allows the reader to join him on that journey.
• If an intimate experience with the protagonist is required of the reader, then a minor viewpoint diminishes it. This is particularly true when the main character bucks society’s cherished values; intimacy can help the reader better understand why he takes that position and the resulting decisions he makes.
• Should the story be theme-oriented, then experiencing the world through the protagonist could help drive home that message. This sometimes is done in science fiction and fantasy tales.

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



Most popular point of view types in stories

Pens-532242_640Among the most important decisions a fiction writer can make is what point of view to use in a story. Point of view determines what aspects of a story will be left out and deeply affects how the reader relates to the main character and interprets the tale’s message.

The various points of view available to novelists and short story writers generally are grouped into three categories: first person; second person; and third person.

First-Person
When the story’s narrator also is a character in the story, first person point of view is being used. First person usually is easy to spot because the narrator uses “I.”

First-person major
In first-person major, only the main character’s experiences and thoughts are relayed to the reader (as in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels). This allows readers to have a very intimate experience with the main character, as they see the events through his eyes. On the downside, a narrator can be unreliable, meaning not being entirely truthful, often requiring the reader to think a little more about what is occurring.

First-person minor
In first-person minor, the narrator is a character in the story but not the protagonist. This creates a sense of intimacy with the narrator and his views while making the protagonist more of an object to be examined. A major limitation is that the narrator can’t experience what the protagonist sees, feels or thinks, only what is observed of him. This point of view is used in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby in which the narrator Nick tells what occurs to main character, Jay Gatsby. This subtype sometimes is referred to as first-person peripheral.

Second-Person
Second person occurs when the story is told from the reader’s point of view. Very rarely used in fiction, it is common in nonfiction, especially instructional works. “You” often appears in such works. A good example of second person in fiction is the children’s tale The Monster at the End of This Book. In second person, the reader is the story’s protagonist.

Third-Person
For third-person, the protagonist is part of the story, but the narrator is not. It can be identified by the narrator’s use of he, she and it. The advantage is it offers a more objective portrayal of the main character while still presenting his perceptions, emotions and thoughts. This still generates much less intimacy with the main character than first-person major, however, making it a poor choice when the author wants to challenge the reader’s viewpoints through the protagonist’s questionable behavior. Two major subtypes of this point of view exist.

Third-person limited
In a limited point of view, the narrator only tells what the protagonist sees, feels and thinks. Other characters only can be shown through their actions or the words they speak, as the protagonist would observe them. An excellent example of this in literature is Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. This approach allows the reader to have a more objective view of the protagonist but still get into his head.

Third-person omniscient
The omniscient subtype allows the narrator to be god-like, in that he knows and can present what every character sees, feels and thinks. The narrator knows what characters don’t even know and can offer commentary. This point of view is particularly useful in novels with multiple character storylines, such as Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.

One modern technique involving third-person is combining the two subtypes so that different scenes in a story are told in third-person limited but focus on a different protagonist. For example, if a novel has four protagonists, the first chapter might be told in third-person limited with Character A as the main character, while the next chapter is told in third-person limited with Character B as the main character, and so on. Chapters told in third-person omniscient that focus on these many protagonists also might be included. This style sometimes is referred to as third-person multiple.

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



Describe setting from characters’ perspectives

Novice writers American Samoa NP Ofu Beachoften possess a good understanding of how to write a great description of a story’s setting and of how to present evocative details. Indeed, the ability to create beautiful imagery through words often is a skill that encouraged many aspiring writers to aspire to write a book in the first place.

Unfortunately, sometimes novice writers present great descriptions that don’t really advance the story. The use of such wording, while pretty and emotive in its own right, actually can slow the story and feel superfluous.

Usually the cause for this is the writer showing off his or her talent at penning great descriptions. But to make those appeals to sight, sound, smell, touch and taste truly great, the author ought to ensure they relate to the character in some way. Rather than simply be a lush description of any city or any street or any waiting room that any person could experience, they ought to be details that the story’s viewpoint character experiences.

By doing so, the writer gives the reader a better understanding of the viewpoint character’s motivations and perceptions of the world. The reader then can better grasp the viewpoint character’s mood and can better identify with that character.

For example, anyone visiting a beach can feel the sand between their toes, hear the screech of seagulls, and feel the warm water as the waves crash against their ankles. But writers always should ask how their viewpoint character would perceive the beach. Maybe that character finds sand between the toes scratchy, thinks the seagulls are dive bombing her, and considers the water too cold for her liking. Now the reader is experiencing the beach in the way the viewpoint character does, and we have a better sense of the latter’s personality and intentions.

Such writing does require a bit more effort on the part of the author. But the result often is a better story that the reader can better appreciate – and that always brings many rewards to the writer.

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