I was listening to the Writing Excuses podcast this week and it inspired me to publish this thought-piece for your viewing pleasure this weekend.
If you have not had a chance to listen to Writing Excuses or don’t know anything about them, but love to write, then I recommend checking them out on iTunes or check them out on their website here: WritingExcuses.com.
This week’s episode they discussed a few of the variations of the first person perspective and how it can be used in story telling. As usual, they were very insightful and have definitely stretched my understanding of the writing process.
As a sort of response to their podcast I wanted to hit on the three main Points of View that many stories are written from. Keep in mind that these points of view are very broad and can be broken down even further if desired. I’m sure you all know where I am going with this, but a refresher never hurts right?
This type of perspective is not the most common, but it is used quite a bit in many great tales (Think Hunger Games, The Martian, and the Farseer Trilogy for instance). These narratives are incredibly limited in the fact that as the reader we will only ever know the thoughts and emotions of the story teller.
Whether the POV is of the protagonist, the antagonist, or even simply a re-teller of the tale, there is a limited amount of information that can be given without edging into the other perspectives.
This can lead to some very fun, but challenging stories to write; but if done well, they often stand out among the crowd.
You may not even be able to pinpoint a story that uses this perspective. It is rarely, if ever, used in any mainstream story. In fact, most of you might be thinking of the “create your own story” novels where you were given an option to turn to a certain page based of the decisions you are presented and made.
However, a good second person fiction can and has been done. I found a good list of 5 novels that are written in second person which can be found here: The Power of You.
Still, you will likely only see this in the non-fiction and self-help corners of the book market.
By far the most common type of perspective (and arguably the easiest to write in), third person is where we often find our narratives in a great many stories. All of the stories we tend to think of in classics (like Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Tale of Two Cities, etc) have nestled themselves comfortably within the third person narrative.
Just because it is common does not mean it is not valuable. The amount of opportunity in telling a story when the narrative is broad can make for a lot of intriguing developments just as easily as the limited first and second persons.
Ultimately, you will have to decide which perspective and it’s subsidiaries work best for the story you wish to tell (be it fiction or not) and how use it to the fullest.
That’s all I have for now. I’m curious to see which perspective you prefer to read or write in. Let me know in the comments below!