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Storymill Publishing Novel POV Revision


POV – Point of View.

Find and maintain a consistent POV. Choose the type of POV that works in the most natural way for your story. Do not forget fiction novels are only the modern phase of the old world custom of story telling. It is important that the printed word is as natural and easy to read as the voice would sound to the ear. If done successfully, the reader will forget he gazes at a printed page, and will become a spectator to what he perceives as an actual scene in real life. The writer achieves the most successful use of POV when the reader is not conscious of his presence. Settle on one type of POV and stick with it throughout the manuscript.

  • Objective Point of View - The writer tells the story through action and dialogue. The narrator does not disclose what the characters think or feel, remaining a detached observer.
  • First-person point of view - The reader can only know what the POV character knows.
    • It is often subjective: the reader learns the narrator's thoughts, feelings, and reactions to events. The narrator can be a minor character, observing the action, or the main protagonist of the story.
    • In first-person objective, the narrator tells us only what people said and did, without comment. The first person narrator is involved as witness or as participant in the events of the story, without injecting their opinion.

In addition, a first-person narrator may be reliable or unreliable. Take care, as the reader cannot help wondering at times how one narrator could know so much about what is going on. This is a pitfall is not found in the invisible third person author, whom we have become accustomed to granting omniscience and omnipresence qualities, so we never question his knowledge.

  • Second-person point of view – A seldom seen point of narrative in fiction, the writer more or less directs you through the story. You drove to work. You were late and your boss fired you. Second person is the "you" point of view, the imperative (command) form, very few writers feel the need for it, and still fewer use it effectively.
  • Third-person point of view – In third person point of view storytelling the narrator is often unknown, he simply relate the actions using third person pronouns like “he” and “she” to reference a character actions or thoughts. Third person point of view may be omniscient, objective or limited.
    • Third-person limited, development of a single character through whose eyes the story unfolds. The writer may go inside the character's mind, relating their thoughts and feelings and/or describe events using terms the character would use. This POV chooses for the reader which character to like and to invest in or identify with.
    • Third-person objective, the writer does not share anyone's thoughts or feelings. The narrator describes what the characters say and do. The author's persona here is almost non-existent, without emotion or editorializing. This can leave readers unsure whose fate they should care about. Used well, it can be a powerful invitation to the reader to supply the emotion that the narrator does not.
    • Third-person omniscient, the author's persona can develop in any of several directions.

Today, fiction has moved away from the omniscient author. The author submerses himself in the characters (goes in their heads) and writes from their point of view. To sustain a natural feel to that illusion, the narrative is written with words that replicate the character’s style – the way they would speak. This results in prose more colloquial and casual than the books of previous generations. Informal, idiomatic narrative and speech patterns inevitably use a fair amount of bad grammar. If you edit out all bad grammar, your writing becomes stilted and old-fashioned.

In all cases POV is “Episodically limited.” Which ever character is the point of view for a particular scene or chapter, determines the narrative. You stay in their perspective throughout the scene. As a general rule, point of view should not change during a scene.