When I sat down to write my novel, I didn’t think about anything but telling my story. I didn’t plan or plot key points, I didn’t use an outline or a bullet list, and I didn’t worry about POV, Point of View, for my characters. It is my story, my life, told by me. So, I told my story in first person. I wanted readers to know how I felt in every situation.
Since publishing my book, I’ve sat down several times to write another novel based on a true story. However, this one is different. It’s my story to tell, but it’s not about me. So POV has been a real struggle for me. I’ve written four chapters, three times; all different in their beginnings, with some in first person, others in third person. I’m more comfortable writing in first person, but part of me feels that the first person point of view is very limiting to my other characters; it doesn’t allow a more in depth peek into their minds and their lives. It also limits your ability to take the story further…say, writing a series.
My good friend Mike Squatrito, Author of THE OVERLORDS Fantasy Series, and CEO of the consultancy site, Self Publishing Insight, has once again honored me with a stop on my blog to offer his expert advice. He is currently on a blog tour “The Overlords Blog Tour: Seven Blogs in Seven Days” and he’s making a stop here to give his insights on this topic. It’s an honor and a privilege to have him here.
Are You Talking to Me? Figuring Out the Point of View by Mike Squatrito
For those of you that remember me from an earlier post – hello, again! For those of you who are meeting me for the first time, my name is Mike Squatrito and I’m the author of The Overlords fantasy series. My novels are firmly fixed in the fantasy genre, along the lines of the Lord of the Rings, written at a Harry Potter level, with characters influenced by the original Star Wars cast. I know, a can’t miss!
Before I get started, I want to take this moment to thank Taylor for being a stop on my current blog tour, “The Overlords Blog Tour: Seven Blogs in Seven Days”. This makes visit number five and I’m not slowing down yet! Taylor asked me to talk about a very important aspect of writing – choosing your point of view. Without further ado, here’s my take on that topic.
One of the first things any writer must determine before starting their project is the point of view. The point of view is written in either the first person or the third person and there are pluses and minuses to using both. Let’s start with the most common usage, the third person.
The third person point of view is, to me, the easiest voice to write in. Most novelists use the third person simply because you have a lot more leeway in your writing. The third person grants you the privilege of being omniscient, meaning that you know all about the story, characters, setting, etc. You must be thinking, “of course I know everything, I’m the writer!” True, but the third person refers to the characters. Writing in the third person lets you get inside the heads of all the characters, not just your main ones, and lets your audience hear what they are thinking, their background, their emotions, etc. This cannot be done in the first person.
In my storyline, I constantly let my readers know what’s going on in Harrison Cross’s head (my main character). I also can show my readers what the other characters are doing and thinking, as well as my antagonist and their minions. This is important since I have many characters and want my readers to have a solid bond with them all.
For example, let’s take my main character, Harrison, and the ranger in my story, Murdock, and put them in a potential battle position. Harrison tells Murdock to investigate sounds they hear from the other side of a thickly wooded hill a hundred yards away. Murdock scurries off and is quickly out of Harrison’s line of sight. Using the third person, I can relay to my readers what Harrison sees and feels, as well as Murdock. In this scene, Harrison watches Murdock race over the hill’s crest, but I also can jump to Murdock’s vantage point and let my readers know that he sees an enemy camp filled with brutal warriors.
OK, I understand, you say, but what’s so bad about the first person point of view? Actually, there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just a bit more constricting when telling your story. When writing in the first person you must always BE the main character. You can only relay what the main character sees, what he/she is thinking, emotions, background, histories, etc. And, you can only assume what may or may not be happening to other characters in other parts of the story.
Let’s go back to my previous example. If I’m using the first person I can let my readers see and feel everything Harrison is experiencing, but I cannot presume to know what Murdock is seeing. Therefore, we can watch Murdock scale the crest of the hill through Harrison’s eyes, but once he’s out of view he’s also lost to us. Harrison can only guess to what Murdock’s seeing and we the reader won’t know about the enemy campsite. In the third person, I can jump back and forth in my story, relaying Harrison and Murdock’s individual experiences.
Lee Child, the author of the Jack Reacher books, does an excellent job using the first person. We’re always in Jack’s head and understand all his actions as they pertain to him. Check out his novels sometime and you’ll know what I mean.
I hope this helps my fellow authors out, because figuring out your story’s point of view is very important and paramount to writing a great story. If you need help putting your project together, I have a self-publishing consultancy called Self Publishing Insight that has editors, artists, web designers, and me at your disposal. Check out my website when you have some time.
My time here is up, but I wanted to pass along a few shameless plugs. You can learn more about me and my project at www.the-overlords.com and you can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. As you can see, I’m looking for other authors to guest blog on my site and if you’re interested please contact me. And yes, I am always open to mentoring!!!
You can purchase my books and eBooks on my website or if you have Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes & Noble (Nook) accounts, at the following:
Like The Overlords Book Series on Facebook, and
Follow me on Twitter, @Overlords
I want to thank Mike for stopping here on his blog tour. He is a wealth of information and always willing to help out. I hope you’ll get to know this fantastic author and friend. Leave Mike a question or comment. I know he’d love to chat with you…
As always, write from your heart…with passion!