Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 15, 2014

Let’s Talk Point of View

rivet your readersI added Jill Elizabeth Nelson, Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View to my writing library and want to recommend that you check it out. The information is good and the price is right – $3.99 on Kindle and $5.39 in paperback. You can take a look at Jill’s romantic suspense novels by clicking this link to her website.

Below are just a few things that Jill explains in her book. She gets more in depth during the book.

In fiction writing, the position from which anything is considered in any given scene should be the character through whose head we are viewing events. That character’s psyche – his or her very soul – is the standpoint from which everything else in the scene is presented and evaluated. This particular character is the point-of-view character or POVC.

In order to remain firmly inside the POVC’s head, nothing in a scene can be presented for reader consideration that is outside that character’s awareness.

First Person:

Requires that nothing can be heard, seen, or experienced except through the senses of the character relating the story. However, a first-person narrative does allow for the viewpoint character to skip ahead in the sequence of events, and make a comment like, “If I had known…”, but you should weigh the moment and decide if the segue into telling is worth the loss of immediacy.

You may ask, “Isn’t first person automatically deep POV? No. It is possible to write “Shallow” and “telling” first person.

Second Person:

This viewpoint character is “you”. It is a problematic and difficult POV. Reader want to identify with the characters in a novel; they don’t necessarily want the writer to point the finger at them as the “you” character. Usually is an awkward presentation. Though writer will use this when describing a step-by-step “How to book”.

Third Person, Single POV:

Reqguires the author to remain inside one character throughout the story (much like first person). This creates an excellent opportunity for reader to identify with the main character. A drawback is the limitation in what can be shown. Events that happen outside the POVC’s experience must either be told to him by another character or discovered by that character in another way.

Third Person, Multiple POV:

Using this method, the writer puts the reader into the heads of more than one character during the course of the story. Romances do a lot of this by telling the story through the POV of the male and females protagonist. A scene with multiple POS’s is hard to pull off, unless you are a season writer. Head hopping can be confusing, so you are better off not ping-ponging around in everyone’s head. You will be better served by staying in one POV throughout the scene and conveying the subtleties of the reaction, attitude, and emotion emanating from other characters by employing body language, voice inflection, and mannerisms. By staying in one person head, they can misread the situation, and the misperception creates additional conflict valuable to the story.

Third Person, Omniscient POV:

The viewpoint character is an omniscient narrator who tells a story about a cast of character from an all-knowing position. The narrator himself becomes an unseen character that can share things that even the characters do not know about themselves, so may have a god-like feel. Sweeping epics like Lord of the Rings employ this POV to good effect. The advantage is that this POV helps manage the length of the story and the sheer number of characters. Book Thief with its narrator being Death comes to mind.

Are there any areas where I violate the basic Point-of-View by inserting comments that the POV character cannot know?

Example: Dan turned away and didn’t notice Harry slip out the door. (Dan would not be able to see Harry’s sneaky retreat.)

Here is a rewrite:

Fists clenching and unclenching, Dan gazed around the kitchen. Where was that Louse? He had to be here somewhere.
“Harry, I need to talk to you. Now!”
Silence answered Dan’s shout.
He strode toward the living room. A gentle whoosh of air behind him stopped him in his tracks. Dan whirled. The screen door was settling back in place. The coward was on the run.

Now the reader knows that Harry slipped out the door, but we haven’t left Dan’s POV in order to convey that information. Plus, by refusing to take the lazy way out and “tell” the information through a POV violation, the story becomes much more immediate and exciting.

Love her examples. I think you will, too.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thanks for this, Kathy 🙂 I’ll be checking it out!


  2. Great blog. Very clearly stated. Thanks.


  3. Good reminders here and excellent examples. I will check Jill’s book out. Thanks for the post.


  4. Reblogged this on The Page a Day Writers Group and commented:
    Here’s a great post from Kathy Teamen, authot of blog: Writing and Illustrating that does a great job of clarifying point of view. Several of my coaching clients struggle with POV, and this short article does a great job of summarizing how it works.


  5. This is a great short essay on POV! Thanks, Kathy. I forwarded this to an editing client and reblogged it on our group Page-a-Day Writers blog – with attribution, or course. 🙂 I haven’t forgotten about the thing I promised. As soon as I can climb out from under a bunch of obligations, I’ll get it to you, maybe by the end of the week. 😉


  6. This hit me right between the eyes. Am ordering the book for both Kindle and to hold in my hand and mark up. Thanks, Kathy.


  7. Obtrusive (Fielding style) omniscient is my one true way to go, and none of your propaganda will be able to deter me from deploying it.


  8. Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all of us you
    really recognize what you are speaking about! Bookmarked. Kindly additionally
    consult with my web site =). We will have a hyperlink exchange arrangement among us


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