Writers Basic Training – Viewpoint

Because emotion and viewpoint are often entangled, I have prepared a separate tool on emotion. But here we are going to look at FOUR different viewpoints or Point of View (POV).

These are:

  1. First Person
  2. Third Person
  3. Omniscient
  4. Novelty

First Person

This is the “I”. You are telling the story as if you are the main character. Not my favorite POV, but I have read books written in the First Person that were good.

The Advantages of First Person are:

  1. Reader sees everything through eyes of protagonist
  2. A sense of immediacy prevails (smell, sound, sight, touch)
  3. Reader has inside knowledge of who and what the character is (education, financial status, and more)
  4. Reader knows the thoughts of the character.
  5. Strong identification with the character.

Disadvantages

  1. The “I” can easily become the author (very dangerous). This requires the writer or author to be very objective. The author needs to act like reader. Extremely hard to do and not taught in this course.
  2. Awareness: You know what the character knows and cannot hide it from your readers.
  3. Unaware: You don’t know what the character doesn’t know. So, you and the reader have no knowledge of what is occurring elsewhere.
  4. Restricted Information: Like Awareness, you cannot include information or scenes that the character doesn’t know about.
  5. World View: You see the world as the character sees the world. That includes other people. If the character sees someone as a liar, then so do you, which forces you the writer to show that the other person is not a liar without telling the readers.

These disadvantages make it very difficult for authors to successfully pull it off. As mentioned earlier, some do. But most don’t.

An Example of First Person

My wife loves to read Murder She Wrote which is written in First Person. (I must admit I enjoy these as well.) These books were written based on the TV series. Supposedly the author is Jessica Fletcher (a fictitious name) and Donald Bain.

In any case, the series demonstrates that First Person works when done well.

Concluding Thoughts on First Person

The problem that I have with First Person is that it is almost as if I am bragging. “I did this,” or “I did that.” Aside from that it also requires that everything is from inside the character’s head. The author sees, hears, thinks, and feels whatever the character see, hears, thinks, and feels.

As shown, it can be done. But it requires dedication, commitment, and skill. The first two I have, the last I am not sure. And since most First Person novels do not find their way to my desk, I don’t usually read them. If you want to give it a try, go ahead.

For more on Viewpoint, see tools below.