1st Person Point of View

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How do you choose a Point of View (POV)?

Point of view means the “person” (as in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, and not the character’s voice) the writer uses when telling the story. However, when people talk about POV they sometimes refer to the character who is telling the story.

The terms POV, person, and voice are used interchangeably and actually have more than one meaning, which makes talking about them very confusing unless you understand the context. In this lesson we will discuss each of these terms to get a better overview of how and who should tell the story. When you better understand what these terms mean in different contexts, you will more easily understand how to write in a consistent voice.

POV – Person
The term “person” refers to the form of the language that is used:

• 1st person – telling the story in the form of “I”
I am present in the story and telling you about my experiences and I can only tell you what I know, have seen, or have been told or overheard, or have surmised. Although associated more with the present, I can speak in present, past, or future tense. I may lie to you or be truthful or be unreliable because of my own biases.

I went to see Mary, but when I got there the doors were locked and she was gone. I wasn’t sure what to make of that. She could have been lying dead inside or just gone to the marked. (past)

I will not speak of things happening because they are too outrageous to be believed. I am not a bitter man, nor prone to exaggeration. (present)

I am going to Mars on the next available shuttle. I have made plans to be a stowaway. I will carry a sack of nutrition bars and adult diapers to take care of my bodily needs. After that, what happens will be anyone’s guess. This is what I believe will take place. (future)

The above partial lecture came from the online workshop Creative Writing 101. To learn more about the class click here. The course also covers creating a great protagonist and antagonist.

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