Writing Basics

Stop the head-hopping: Picking the right POV for your story

The cover of the children's book, "Eulalie and the Hopping Head."
For some reason, the topic of head-hopping always makes me think of this book!

How do you know what point of view is right for your story? Honestly, the degree of intimacy your story requires is completely up to you. It comes down to artistic choice. Whatever POV you choose, the important thing is to keep it consistent to avoid confusing your readers.

Head-hopping is one of the many distractive elements of writing that can remind your reader that she is reading, thus pulling her out of the story. To avoid head-hopping, if you need to switch POVs, you should include some sort of visual indicator to tip readers off to the fact that a POV switch is about to take place. This could be as simple as providing a new header that includes the name of the POV character to let the reader know a POV switch is coming. Continue reading “Stop the head-hopping: Picking the right POV for your story”

Writing Basics

Point of view basics: Third person and omniscient POV in fiction

the front cover of Valley of the Bees
My first novel, Valley of the Bees, is written in third person point of view. The entire story is filtered closely through the perspective of the protagonist, Valley Bickerstaff.

So, we’ve discussed first and second person points of view in this series. Today, let’s talk third person and omniscient. In third person POV, a narrator tells a story about characters who are outside himself. From a logistical perspective, both the third person narrator and the omniscient narrator tell the story using, “he,” “she,” and “they.” The difference between these two POVs lies fully in the amount of narrative distance created by the writer.

Third person point of view can be as intimate or distant as you like. You can make it intimate – like first person – by picking one main character and filtering the entire story through his or her POV, using language that character would use and only showing what that character knows. Continue reading “Point of view basics: Third person and omniscient POV in fiction”

Writing Basics

Point of view basics: Second person POV in fiction

me pointing at a rug on my wall
You: You are but a tapestry on the wall. But, what have you seen? What stories can you tell?

Yesterday we discussed first person point of view. Today, let’s focus on second person. This will be a short conversation as second person POV is not used much in fiction or creative non-fiction. When you do see it, it mostly occurs with characters like Deadpool who are known to occasionally break the fourth wall and speak directly to the audience.

In second person point of view, the narrator speaks to “you,” whether “you” be the reader or another character or even the protagonist. I have only seen this once in recent memory, in N.K. Jemisin’s Hugo Award-winning Broken Earth series. Continue reading “Point of view basics: Second person POV in fiction”

Writing Basics

Point of view basics: First person POV in fiction

I’m teaching a creative writing workshop this semester at my local community college, and I just had an epiphany as I was writing notes for our next class. I thought, “Hey, dummy! As long as you’re typing all of this writing stuff up, maybe you could use the content for a series of blog posts!” Of course, I’m a huge fan of re-purposing content, so I replied, “Okay, cool. Let’s do this.” So today, here’s blog post #1 of a series I have written to provide a brief overview of the basics of Point of View (POV) in fiction writing.

According to Self-editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print, there are as many as 26 flavors of point of view. For the purpose of this series, we will focus on four basics: first, second, third, and omniscient. Today, let’s start with first person POV. Continue reading “Point of view basics: First person POV in fiction”