Point of View: How to Use it in Your Writing

Point of view (POV) is a fundamental element in storytelling that can dramatically influence how readers perceive your narrative. Understanding and effectively utilizing different POVs can enhance the depth and engagement of your writing.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the various types of POV, provide examples, and offer guidance on choosing and writing in the appropriate POV for your story.

What is Point of View?

Point of view refers to the perspective from which a story is told. It determines through whose eyes the reader experiences the narrative and can significantly affect the tone and direction of the story. The main types of POV are first person, second person, and third person, each offering unique advantages and challenges.

First-Person Point of View

First-person point of view uses pronouns like “I” and “we,” allowing the narrator to speak directly from their own perspective. This POV provides an intimate and personal connection with the reader, making them feel like they are experiencing the story alongside the narrator.

Common First-Person Genres:

  • Young Adult (YA): This POV allows for a deep, personal connection with the protagonist, often resonating well with younger readers who appreciate an intimate and immediate perspective.
  • Mystery/Thriller: First person can create a sense of suspense and immediacy, making readers feel as if they are uncovering clues alongside the protagonist.
  • Literary Fiction: This genre often focuses on character development and introspection, making first-person POV a natural fit for exploring a character’s inner world.

First-Person POV Examples

Consider Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” where Scout Finch narrates her experiences. This POV allows readers to see the world through Scout’s innocent and curious eyes, enhancing the emotional impact of the story. Another example is J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye,” where Holden Caulfield’s distinctive voice and perspective shape the narrative’s tone and mood.

Second-Person Point of View

Second-person point of view addresses the reader directly using the pronoun “you.” This POV creates an immersive experience, making the reader feel like they are part of the story. It’s less common in fiction but can be highly effective in specific contexts.

Common Second-Person POV Genres:

  • Experimental Fiction: Second-person POV is often used in experimental or avant-garde writing to create a unique and immersive experience.
  • Interactive Fiction/Choose Your Own Adventure: This POV is perfect for interactive stories where the reader’s choices directly impact the narrative.

Second Person POV Examples

Jay McInerney’s “Bright Lights, Big City” uses second person POV to place the reader directly into the protagonist’s shoes, creating a unique and engaging narrative style. Another example is the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series, where readers make decisions that affect the story’s outcome, making them active participants in the narrative.

Third-Person Point of View

Third-person point of view uses pronouns like “he,” “she,” and “they.” It can be further divided into omniscient, limited, and objective perspectives.

– Omniscient: The narrator knows everything about all characters and events.

– Limited: The narrator only knows the thoughts and feelings of one character.

– Objective: The narrator reports events without revealing any character’s thoughts or feelings.

Common Third-Person POV Genres:

  • Fantasy/Science Fiction: Third-person omniscient or limited POVs are common, allowing the author to build complex worlds and explore multiple characters and storylines.
  • Historical Fiction: Third person can provide a broader perspective on historical events and multiple viewpoints, enhancing the richness of the narrative.
  • Romance: Third-person limited is often used to focus on the perspectives of the main romantic leads, allowing the reader to understand both characters’ emotions and motivations.

Third Person POV Examples

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” the third person omniscient POV allows the narrator to provide insights into multiple characters and events, creating a rich and expansive world. In contrast, J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series primarily uses third person limited, focusing on Harry’s perspective while still providing glimpses into other characters’ experiences.

Narrative Point of View

Narrative point of view refers to the narrative voice chosen by the author to tell the story. It encompasses the narrator’s position in relation to the story and the audience.

Common Narrative POV Genres:

  • Epic Fantasy/Science Fiction: Stories with vast scopes and many characters often benefit from multiple POVs to provide a comprehensive view of the narrative.
  • Thriller/Crime: Multiple POVs can enhance suspense and allow readers to see the story from different angles, including that of the protagonist, antagonist, and secondary characters.
  • Contemporary Fiction: Modern narratives sometimes use multiple POVs to explore complex social issues and diverse perspectives within a single story.

Learn More: Elements of a Narrative

Narrative Point of View Examples

In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” the story is told from Nick Carraway’s perspective, providing a first person narrative that offers a limited but reflective view of the events and characters. In George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, the narrative shifts between multiple characters, each providing their own limited third person POV, adding complexity and depth to the story.

How to Choose Which Point of View to Write in

Choosing the right POV depends on several factors, including the nature of your story, the level of intimacy you want with your readers, and the amount of information you need to convey. Consider what will best serve your narrative and engage your audience. Experiment with different POVs to see which feels most natural and effective for your story.

How to Write Point of View

Writing in a specific POV requires consistency and attention to detail. Here are some tips:

  1. Stay Consistent: Whichever POV you choose, be consistent throughout your story to avoid confusing your readers.
  2. Practice: Write short stories or scenes in different POVs to become comfortable with each and understand their nuances.
  3. Read Examples: Study books written in various POVs to see how other authors handle perspective and narrative voice.
  4. Get Feedback: Share your work with others to get feedback on the clarity and effectiveness of your chosen POV.

How to Choose the Best POV for Your Genre

When deciding which POV to use for your genre, consider the following:

  • Reader Expectations: Understand what readers typically expect from your genre and how different POVs can meet or subvert these expectations.
  • Narrative Scope: Determine whether your story benefits from a narrow, personal perspective or a broader, more detached viewpoint.
  • Character Development: Consider how deeply you want to explore your characters’ thoughts and emotions. First person and limited third person are more intimate, while omniscient third person can provide a wider lens.
  • Story Complexity: If your narrative involves multiple subplots and characters, third person or multiple POVs might be more suitable to handle the complexity.

Point of View FAQs

Can I switch Point of View in a story?

Yes, but do so carefully. Ensure transitions are clear to avoid confusing your readers.

Is one POV better than another?

No, each POV has its strengths and is suitable for different types of stories.

How do I practice writing in different Points of View?

Write short stories or scenes in various POVs to gain experience and discover what works best for you.


Mastering point of view is crucial for any writer. It shapes how readers experience your story and connects them with your characters. By understanding and experimenting with different POVs, you can enhance your storytelling and create more engaging and compelling narratives.

Have you mastered point of view? Learn more about how to submit your work to From Whispers to Roars.

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