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It’s time to look at the point of view you’ve chosen for your novel.

More than whether you’ve decided to write your book in first or third person, point of view determines your reader’s proximity to the objective truths in your story. As Percy Lubbock says in The Craft of Fiction, “The whole intricate question of method, in the craft of fiction, I take to be governed by the point of view—the question of the relation in which the narrator stands to the story.”

The relation in which the narrator stands to the story. I like that way of putting it. Are you offering your reader a third person narrator who has access to only one character’s mind? Or are you using third person omniscient to reveal all of your characters’ full experiences? Are you telling your story from a first-person perspective? And if so, how reliable is your character? How much do they understand about their own story? Are they telling it as it happens to them, or are they sharing the events of the past?

Different POVs are good for different things. First person present tense, for example, does wonders for immediacy and urgency, while first person past tense is perfect if you’re hoping to strike a reflective tone, or if you have a character who is going to be talking directly to your reader. Third person gives you a lot of freedom. You can follow different characters and make big leaps through space and time a little more easily than you can in first. And if you are struggling to capture a character’s specific voice, third person allows you to tell the story from a voice more like your own.

This is a notebook and pen day. Explore the answers to these questions:


Why is my current POV the right choice for my novel?


What does this POV allow me to do that other POVs don’t?


Am I taking full advantage of the opportunities my POV offers?


How could I do even more?

Note: I’ve found that with most projects, the right POV is clear from the beginning, but once in a while you’ll find yourself torn. When you feel that way, it helps to keep in mind that any POV choice you make comes with sacrifice. You lose freedom and expansiveness with first. You lose immediacy with past tense. You lose the unfiltered voice of the character with third. So, think about which qualities are most important for your story and which you can live without. Once you have those answers, you will have a good sense of whether to stay with your current POV or to try out new vantage point.