Writing: point of view

…also known as view and in writing, that’s point of view (POV), the perspective from which a piece is written, and that can range from the perspective of a piece of dust on the floor to a star billions of light years away. Point of view is the thing that all writing has, regardless of genre.

There are countless bits of advice and how-to about point of view: for simple, school-type description of POV, this site has some good, pithy explanations.

Sometimes you know a piece needs first person POV for the immediacy; other times, that third person, omniscient perspective/POV tells it better. And sometimes you don’t know the best POV until the first rewrite.

Good writing advice givers will tell you that POV is not about the writer’s POV, but the POV that works for the piece, for the story. That’s true to an extent and for traditional approaches to writing, it’s expected. In experimental forms, anything goes as long as it works.

Most writers have a POV that they are comfortable with, and that’s the POV they tend to write in. It helps to practice, and practice some more with point of view. It won’t answer all of your questions about POV, but it will help you to become comfortable with it, and to understand a bit better when you’ve got it and when you don’t.

If you sense that a piece isn’t working, or it’s stilted and awkward when that’s not what you’re aiming for, go back to the POV and change it. Read it out loud. See if your voice, and the piece moves more freely, help the reader move easily through the story without getting stuck in sludge caused by a murky POV.

There’s also a school of thought that says do not mix different POVs in the same piece. SO let me say this about that: That is generally true, but if you can make it work and seem natural, and if it advances the story, or the article or the piece you’re writing, and if it works, the do it: you’re not in school and are under no obligation to follow the rules.  But do make sure it works. Do not take your word for it: get people to read it who will tell you the truth.

In other news:  If you have 20 minutes and are up for thinking some thoughts about writing and perspective and how it’s perhaps being taken too literally these days, have a listen. This is brilliant in too many ways to mention.



About FS

Toronto, Canada. Writing about slices of life, the moments and minor details of which come into awareness or out of imagination and the spaces inbetween.
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  1. Pingback: Monday Mental Muscles | My story, your story, her story, the story… « Dragonfly Scrolls

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