2010 Point Of View

Advice and Dissention

My use of point of view has been shaped by a great number of people. Unfortunately much of the advice I have given has been contradictory.

I have been told that 3rd party omniscience is so difficult that only a genius should attempt it!  I have also been told that there is a fashion for 1st  person writing and even experienced authors are being forced by publishers to write from that point of view. I have been told that “Head Hopping”, looking at the same scene through the eyes of several different characters, can confuse and even antagonise many readers.

On the other hand I have been told that novels which have more than one protaganist, action novels or stories with a global sweep can benefit from the use of 3rd party treatment. The point is made that if one wants to describe a poker game in which the fall of the cards, decision making and risk taking of all the players is to be revealed that there is no alternative to third party omniscient.

After a review of a number of different text books I have chosen a referee to adjudicate between all the different opinions. My choice is  -The Power of Point of View- author Alicia Rasley – published by Writers Digest -ISBN 978-1-58297-523-8

One of the difficulties is that different authorities use different names for the same POV

Therefore I must define my terminology with some care. The definitions are all drawn from Alicia’s text.

Impersonal third person.

Said by some to be ‘No POV’ or Camera POV Faithfully records what one person can see but without any context or commentary or knowlege of the person’s thoughts. usually the POV belongs to the person on whom the the scene is focused and that knowledge can be obtained from the introduction.

Contemporary Omniscient.

A variety of Impersonal third person. No narrator. Just an all knowing statement of fact without opinion. It is possible to give a view of ‘community wisdom’ but not the thoughts of any character. If desired it can be used to describe a characters appearance. It must not descend into any characters specific POV ( without making the transition clear).

Personal third person single.(same as first person?)

The chosen character sees the story from their own point of view. Now the reader can see the thought processes of a single character, (but not of other characters). It is possible, desirable even, to switch characters but it should be done sparingly. It should avoid taking the point of view of minor characters. Readers assume that the characters chosen for point of view are important.

Personal third person multiple.

Is occassionally esential but should otherwise be avoided. Difficult to avoid “Head Hopping” If used when unnecessary it is considered lazy writing and it is believed that it confuses readers. If it is essential to show the thought processes of a whole group of people.eg in a game of poker identified above then this is the POV to use.

My choice.

There are of course many other subtleties but I have deliberately limited my selection.

I have used Contemporary Omniscient for entry and exit of scenes and for action sequences.

For the main body I have tried to stay to the same third person personal or third person impersonal POV for whole chapters,

I have however found that this is not always possible in the context of telling a story with a global sweep, multiple locations and which is influenced by many levels of society.

When the POV changes within a chapter I have included a double space (perhaps it should be a triple space ort a dotted line?)

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

Table Of Contents



List of Places

Table of Contents

Pseudo History