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Point of View Choices: Navigating Narrative Perspective

The point of view (POV) you choose in writing your novel dictates the lens through which your story is told. This choice shapes how closely readers align with characters and how much they are privy to. Below are insights into each perspective, complete with examples, to guide you in making this pivotal decision:

First Person:

Pros: Offers intimate insight into a character’s thoughts, emotions, and experiences. It can create a deep connection between readers and the narrator. This perspective allows readers to experience the story through the eyes of the protagonist, making the narrative personal and immediate.

Example: “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The entire town had changed.”

Consider If: You want to explore your character’s interior world deeply or if your narrative strongly ties to one character’s perspective. This POV is effective for character-driven stories where the protagonist’s voice and personal growth are central.


  • Intimacy: Readers gain direct access to the narrator’s thoughts and feelings.

  • Voice: Allows for a strong, distinctive narrative voice.

  • Engagement: Readers often feel more emotionally invested in the protagonist’s journey.


  • Limited Perspective: The story is confined to what the narrator knows and experiences.

  • Bias: The narrator’s viewpoint can be subjective and unreliable.

Second Person:

Pros: Involves the reader directly in the story, making them a character in the narrative. This can be immersive and compelling, drawing readers into the action and making them feel like participants in the story.

Example: “You walk into the room and immediately sense that something is off.”

Consider If: You want to create a unique and intimate reader experience, often used in experimental or interactive fiction. This POV is effective for choose-your-own-adventure stories or works that aim to challenge traditional narrative forms.


  • Immersion: Directly engages the reader, creating a sense of immediacy and involvement.

  • Novelty: Offers a fresh and unconventional narrative approach.


  • Difficulty: Can be challenging to sustain without feeling forced or gimmicky.

  • Niche Appeal: May not appeal to all readers and can be off-putting if not executed well.

Third Person:

Pros: Offers a broader view of events and characters. It can be close (focusing on the internal world of one character) or omniscient (having access to the thoughts and feelings of all characters). This perspective provides flexibility in storytelling and allows for multiple viewpoints.


  • Close: “She immediately walked into the room and sensed the tension.”

  • Omniscient: “John didn’t notice the tension in the room, but Mary did.”

Consider If: You need flexibility to move between characters or desire a more objective or broad perspective on events. This POV is effective for complex narratives with multiple plotlines and a large cast of characters.


  • Flexibility: Can switch focus between characters and scenes.

  • Objectivity: Offers a more balanced and comprehensive view of the story world.

  • Depth: Allows exploration of multiple characters’ inner thoughts and motivations.


  • Distance: Can create a sense of detachment if not managed well.

  • Complexity: Requires skillful handling to maintain clarity and coherence.

Choosing the Right POV

To decide, consider the emotional experience you want for your reader and how much information you want to reveal. Think about whose story you are telling and how personal or expansive you want the narrative scope to be. The chosen POV should align with the themes of your story, and the reader experience you aim to create. It's not just a technical decision; it's a deeply narrative one that will shape every page of your novel.

Tips for Making Your Decision:

  1. Experiment: Write a few scenes from different POVs to see which feels most natural and compelling.

  2. Reflect on Theme: Consider how the POV aligns with the themes and messages of your story.

  3. Think About Reader Experience: How do you want your readers to connect with your characters and story?

  4. Consistency: Ensure that the chosen POV can be maintained consistently throughout the novel.

Practical Example:

  • First Person: Ideal for a coming-of-age story focusing on a single protagonist’s growth and personal challenges.

  • Second Person: Suitable for an experimental short story or interactive narrative where reader engagement is central.

  • Third Person Close: Great for a mystery novel where the reader follows the detective’s thoughts and discoveries closely.

  • Third Person Omniscient: Perfect for an epic fantasy with multiple plotlines and a vast cast of characters.

By thoughtfully selecting the POV that best serves your story, you enhance the narrative’s effectiveness and deepen the reader’s engagement. This crucial decision will influence your novel's tone, structure, and emotional impact, guiding readers through your story in the most impactful way.