Point of View Pointers

You, as author, have a responsibility to your reader to make your story clear. Confusing the reader by switching points of view in your story or novel is a big no-no. Why? Your reader won’t know who’s talking or whose story it is. Here are a few pointers to help you keep your reader happy and on track.

  • In a short story, focus on one point of view–typically the main character.
  • In a novel, multiple points of view are acceptable, but keep them clearly separated (by chapter or by obvious breaks within a chapter).
  • Using the primary character’s point of view means your reader is in the character’s head, feels what the character feels, sees the world through the character’s eyes.
  • To communicate what a secondary character may (I emphasize may since the point of view is not the secondary character’s and you’re not writing from inside that character’s head) feel or think, use various clues such as body language, gestures, tone of voice, voice volume, word choice in dialogue, etc.
  • When you are writing from the primary character’s point of view, it’s critical you realize you can only know what that character is thinking, feeling, etc. In real life we don’t know what another person is really thinking, and so it should be with the people living in your fiction.
  • Remember to help your reader see whose point of view you’re writing by making your primary character stand above the others. You can do this by using point of view to show he or she is stronger, more human, or more complex than other characters.

These are just a few pointers to remember about point of view. The most important pointer, however, is to avoid bouncing your reader among multiple points of view. Keep your point of view focused. Happy writing!

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