10 Minute Mentor – POV

31 May

Point of View (POV)  is a great place to start when considering how to craft your manuscript. It’s one of the primary “HOW” questions to ask yourself when tpreparing to tell your story. Often, your story and characters demand you write the story one way. But sometimes there’s more to consider than that.

Here is the fast and dirty on POV.

First Person

First person always includes the teller. If you’re writing in 1st Person, you’ll writing as if you are the character telling the story:
I went to the mall to meet up with Micah. Later, we grabbed an ice cream on the way home.

Notice how both pronouns came from the teller. – That’s her point of view. She’s telling the story from her point of view.

First person singular is I. First person plural is we.

Second Person

Second Person is a lot harder. Imagine you’re telling a story to someone about themselves. You’ll hardly ever see this POV used.
You went to the mall to meet up with Micah. Later, you grabbed an ice cream on the way home.

The pronoun “you” creates a story which the reader is the character. Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books? You did stuff and then made the choice of where to go next — that was an interactive Second Person story.

Both singular and plural of 2nd person is “you.”

Third Person

Is probably the most common POV outside of YA (Young Adult). Third person is as if the teller is talking about a story that happened to someone else.
He went to the mall to meet up with Micah. Later, they grabbed an ice cream on the way home.

The singular for 3rd person is he, she or it. The plural is they.


The reader takes a kind of bird’s-eye-view of the story. There’s no “from so-and-so’s vision”  – an omnisicent narrator can know everything.


Now, when are you going to tell your story?

We’re going to use the Cell Phone Medium as our way of discussing this.


This is how you’d tell the story if you got home from an exciting adventure and then called a friend to tell her about it.


Imagine you were on the phone when it happened tell the story as it unfolds.


Head Hopping – A POV Warning

Very often you’ll hear people talk about how your “POV slipped” or that you’re “Head-hopping” – Don’t worry! Not only are these easy mistakes to make, but they’re standard mistakes.

If someone says your POV slipped, it typically means that just for a moment (or a line or two) you left your POV and used a different character’s OR went omniscient in an attempt to give the reader information you want her to know that your POV character wouldn’t know. This is when you have to get creative. How do you let the reader know things becomes a fun writer game to play in order to keep pure POV.

Head-Hopping is slightly different. Head-hopping isn’t a slip or a moment, it’s a pattern. It’s basically (when not done well) POV Whack-a-Mole. So many new writers will slip into this because they want to tell the whole story of what’s going on. What everyone is knows and is thinking and feeling and considering. There is a big difference between a well done POV switch mid-scene and head-hopping. Head-hopping is like when everyone in the room is trying to tell you a story at once. POV switches is like that in a way, but everyone is taking turns and telling just their part in an orderly fashion.

POV switches can work, but a warning: You will hear a lot of people say NO NO NO to them. No matter how many big name authors you see doing them, people will tell you they can’t be done. Here’s why. The people who can pull them off (like any other talented professional in other fields) makes it look seamless and effortless – Well, if it’s easy, we can all do it, right? Wrong. They make it look that way because they are the best. I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m saying, if that’s the way you want to write, you need to perfect it past perfection AND be prepared to deal with the naysayers.


That is, as I said, the fast and dirty. This is a topic a lot people grapple with…and then, just when you think you’ve got it down, someone tells you your POV isn’t “deep enough” – that’s a whole other 10 Minutes 🙂

2 Responses to “10 Minute Mentor – POV”

  1. Linda G. May 31, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    Ooooh. You said “fast and dirty.” I’m surprised Tawna hasn’t shown up yet. 😉

  2. briaq May 31, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    HA! It made you spam… see what that mouth’ll get ya? 😉

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