Narrative Points of View (for prose fiction writers especially…)

…But the rest of us can profit as well.

Cuz who knows? We all may become novelists after getting that one ridiculous network note too many.  Beats suicide, doesn’t it?



by Rita Karnopp

Every writer must face the question of which point of view they want to use in their novel.  First person?  Second person?  Third person?

Let’s be honest, there are several advantages and disadvantages to each.  Let’s take a look at all three and see what you think.

First Person ~ Many writers believe this is the most difficult point-of-view to write.  The reader only gets to see what’s happening through the eyes, mind, and feelings of a single character.  It’s the; I, me, my, mine, we, and us speaker.

“I confess I should have kissed him when he leaned into me.”

So what are the advantages of First Person point-of-view?

  • It draws the reader in – at a more personal level.  They relate to ‘I.’
  • They aren’t worried about what anyone else is thinking – a single point-of-view is easier to deal with.
  • It’s an easy avenue for internal voice.
  • The sneaky part is – you could surprise your reader – who’s to say the POV character is reliable?

So what are the disadvantages of First Person point-of-view?

  • It’s limited to what the first person character can see, hear, feel, touch, smell, and think.
  • You don’t get that character break because you can’t get into the minds of other characters.
  • The narrator must limit observations only from the first person POV.

Second Person ~ This is the most difficult to write because it’s the story from the narrator’s point-of-view.  It’s even the least favorite of POVs for both the reader and writer.

You wanted to make your move, but she froze when you moved in close.  You jumped back as though you’d been burned.

So the advantages of Second Person point-of-view?

  • It’s difficult to find any advantages- maybe the chance to be quirky or a stab at being different.

So the disdvantages of Second Person point-of-view?

Read it all