Why Point-of-View is Important to a Story
Point-of-View (POV) in literature is the narrator's position in relation to how a story is told. A story's POV sets the tone and mood of how a story unfolds to the reader. There are four basic POVs:
1. First-person point of view. First-person is when “I” am telling the story. 2. Second-person point of view. The story is told to “you.” 3. Third-person point of view, limited. The story is about “he” or “she.” 4. Third-person point of view, omniscient. Sees and knows all.
A POV can also be combined with any of the others. Some stories are told using several POVs throughout the life of the story.
So, why is POV important to a story?
It depends on the kind of story and how the author best feels the story should unfold.
Myself, when I began writing the novel CLIPPED WINGS, I experimented with different POVs. The manuscript wasn’t working for me resulting in severe “writer's block”. Not until I tried writing in First-Person did the story flow freely. That’s when I knew I must tell the story in First Person POV for several reasons.
1. The novel is a personal story told by an 18-year-old who is searching for answers. How better to draw the reader into the story than to have him tell the story in his own words.
2. The entire novel hinges on Shane’s (the protagonist/narrator) perception of the world around him, giving the story a one-sided view.
3. Shane views the reactions of people and situations without the aid of an outside narrator filling in the blanks. Everything is up to Shane to figure out in his own time and on his own terms.
4. Shane does not know what other characters are thinking, so he’s left to make assumptions. Without an outside narrator, it pulls the reader into Shane’s head and his limited logic.
5. Shane offers many of his own thoughts and opinions which he justifies from his earlier life experiences through numerous flashbacks.
6. The reader is free to disagree with Shane and to make his/her own assumptions and predictions about situations, other characters, and the direction the story is going.
7. Shane relays conversations (dialogue) between himself and other characters. He recalls what he hears, maybe not what is literally said or implied by other characters.
The First-Person POV works best in this situation, drawing the reader into the story—or rather into Shane’s head. If the novel were drafted using one of the other POVs, the story may not have provided the essential components required to develop into a personally emotional and moving narrative.
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