Viewpoint Examples

Third person

Just before the car flew off the road Kelly Kelleher wrinkled her nose smelling…was it raw sewage?

Just before the car flew off the road Kelly Kelleher saw that she was gripping the strap at her shoulder so hard, her knuckles had gone white.

Just before the car flew off the road Kelly Kelleher at last said, as tactfully as possible, raising her voice without seeming to raise it—for The Senator seemed slightly hard of hearing in his right ear, “I think we’re lost, Senator.”
Black Water
Joyce Carol Oates

First person

When I visit her we never talk much, and are both relieved by the silence, I think. There are only the two of us now, and I owe her my very life. She owes me nothing at all. Yet I have left her, and now she is sad. I’m not used to this. I have always been the one who sacrificed life and limb and half a brain to save the other half. My habit is to drag myself imperiously through a world that owes me unpayable debts. I have long relied on the comforts of martyrdom.
The Poisonwood Bible
Barbara Kingsolver


Goodman smiled to himself as he scanned the paper. (pg. 580)

Not too far away, the governor was sitting at the long table in his office and scanning the same papers. His face was troubled. His eyes were sad and worried. (pg. 580)

Six blocks away in the federal courthouse, Breck Jefferson entered the office of his boss, the Honorable F. Flynn Slattery, who was on the phone and rather perturbed as a lawyer. (pg. 583)

“Just a few more miles,” Adam said as they sped toward the prison. (pg. 584)
The Chamber
John Grisham

Second person

“You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning.”
Bright Lights, Big City
Jay McInerney

These tips came from the course Voice and Viewpoint

Voice and viewpoint determine the tone of characters’ movements and thoughts, the tenor of their dialogue. Your characters are often little more than a roving crowd of strangers until you discover your story’s voice and choose your point of view. They ultimately drive the storyteller’s every word choice, including the details of setting, the descriptions of characters, the conversations heard, and—sometimes more important—what is left unsaid.
You will learn:

  • How and why certain point of view choices alter a reader’s experience
  • The four approaches to third person viewpoint, and which will work best for your story
  • The reliability and pitfalls of a first person protagonist
  • How to use unconventional viewpoints and voice including omniscient, unsympathetic and untrustworthy voices

Learn More About Voice and Viewpoint Today!

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