There are three major points of view employed in literature. Two are used frequently, while the other is quite rare.
The third-person perspective is the most commonly used narrative mode. This is likely because of the flexibility it provides to the writer. The story is told by an unspecified omniscient or an uninvolved person. The method can split into singular or plural, with the focusing on one character at a time, or upon a group of them. The point of view can be subjective or objective, either discussing the thoughts and feelings of a character, or opting to let the action mould the reader’s opinion. The narrator can be all-seeing and all-knowing, essentially the god of the story, or can be limited to their own experience or that of another character.
The first-person perspective, with the narrator being a character of the story, gives the feeling of a one-on-one conversation between the reader and the character. This allows the reader a greater ability to decide on the personality of a character, since innermost thoughts and personal observations of events give a deep insight into their psyche. A memorable instance of this for me is FitzChivalry Farseer, the focal character of Robin Hobb’s Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies. The illegitimate child of Chivalry Farseer, we follow his life, the trials and tribulations, the numerous setbacks, and all of his feelings and observations. I found him to be a sympathetic character due to the events of the two trilogies, while my sister found him to be quite ‘woe is me’.
The least common perspective is the second-person, where the reader is ‘you’. Characters will make statements and observations of you, trying to pull you in and feel like a character in the story. You can see the problem in that making the story work involves making an accurate observation, or relying heavily on the readers’ suspension of disbelief. It would require an omniscient character to truly draw you into it…
Do you have a memorable instance of a narrative perspective, where it really helped you enjoy the story to a greater degree?
When you write, do you have a preferred point of view?
Please share =)
– Mo –