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What is Poiint of View"


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First person, third person, omniscient. What are they? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Why should you think like the director of a film when considering point of view?

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What is Poiint of View"

  2. 2. What Is Reality? What someone perceives it to be. Thus there is no ONE reality. So your choice of point of view taints reality. It is the number one style problem most authors have. It could also be the key to selling your book. Or not selling.
  3. 3. What Is Reality? In real life, POV is a perspective on a situation. 3 people see an event, we have three different POVs. In writing, POV is the author’s choice of the perspective through which the story is told. 3 people see an event, we only get the POV the author chooses to show it through. Or three different POVs that conflict.
  4. 4. Who Is Telling The Story? You are. But whose voice does the reader ‘hear’ when they read? You are getting a story that is alive in your head, into the reader’s head, through the medium of the ‘printed’ word. The POV you choose is the format of that medium.
  5. 5. The Camera I recommend thinking as if you were a film director, recording a scene. POV is the camera through which the story is recorded. Where is the camera? Who has the camera in the scene?
  6. 6. The Camera If a single character has the camera for the entire story and is telling the story, you are in first person. If you move the camera between several characters having the camera, you are in multiple third person. If you, the writer, have the camera, you are in omniscient.
  7. 7. The Camera All that counts is what is recorded. Get out of your head and focus on the camera and what the reader ‘sees’ that you’ve written. A shift in POV is a shift in the camera= a cut.
  8. 8. A Cut You stop the camera, restart the same one in a new time and/or scene. Or . . . You stop the camera, go to a new camera. Can be same scene (head- hopping) or a new scene (with the same or a new point of view character). Or you as the author control the camera and can go anywhere and any time you want (omniscient point of view).
  9. 9. A Cut You should avoid head-hopping unless showing the same scene from two different POVs adds something. Also, remember, you are filtering everything through a POV character (unless you’re writing omniscient). You can give their thoughts, but consider a film. How do we see thoughts in film? Through action. Or, occasionally, narration.
  10. 10. Point of View As you can tell, Point of View can quickly become confusing. The biggest thing is to make sure you, the author, have a firm sense where the camera is in each scene. Because if you don’t, you are going to confuse the reader.
  11. 11. First Person Most limiting. Narrator is not the author. The narrator always has the camera. Narrator has to be present in every scene or get information second-hand. Works for mysteries. Hard for thrillers.
  12. 12. First Person Detached narrator. Sherlock Holmes. Why wasn’t Holmes the narrator? Believable narrator? The Usual Suspects. Should we believe your narrator?
  13. 13. First Person Is difficult to write in. Besides the limitations of the camera always being with one character, you have the issue of Time Sense. Are you telling an “I remember when” story or a “Come along with me” story?
  14. 14. First Person Time Sense I remember when . . . Already know what happened and are withholding. No suspense over fate of the narrator. Come along with me. What happens if your narrator gets into an emotionally overwhelming event? Both are usually told in past tense which is confusing especially for come along with me. You often end up mixing the two modes.
  15. 15. Third Person Everything is channelled through various characters’ points of view. Cuts have to be very clear to readers. Each POV character must be distinct as their POV taints what they observe.
  16. 16. Third Person Cutting in the middle of a scene: is there a purpose or are you head-hopping? How many points of view can you-- and the reader-- handle? Aka: how schizophrenic are you? How many can the reader keep up with?
  17. 17. Third Person If you have too many POV characters: The reader ends up knowing more than any of the characters. You diffuse attention from your protagonist. The line between Third Limited and Omniscient is a thin one.
  18. 18. Omniscient Authorial narrative. Camera is above, all-seeing and all- knowing. You must be the story psychologist. Good for action scenes. More authoritative
  19. 19. Omniscient Can call one form of it translucent. This is where you are behind one character at a time and have a feed into their brain. You know what they’re thinking and even what they are unaware of in their own subconscious.
  20. 20. Variations There are first/third stories. These are where you write in third person, but stick with one character throughout. Why? To avoid the time sense problem. There are also first/omniscient where you have the camera but follow only one character.
  21. 21. Examples First: Years ago, I was told that to be an effective sniper, I had to be a man who could shoot another human being on nothing but an order and stop; also on order. I’d been told I was one of those people. Third: Years ago, Horace Chase was told that an effective sniper was a man who could shoot another human being on nothing but an order and stop; also on order. He knew he was one of those people. Omniscient: An effective sniper is a man who can shoot another human being on nothing but an order and stop; also on order. Horace Chase was one of those people and that made him dangerous.
  22. 22. Variations Second person. (Fourth dimension in film where an actor/actress addresses the audience) Multiple first person. Why would you use this instead of multiple third person? No point of view is wrong. Just have a reason for using the one you choose. More importantly. Choose one. Before you start writing the book!
  23. 23. Variations Mixing points of view? Faulkner did it in The Sound and the Fury. Most of us aren’t Faulkner. Like everything else— if you do it, have a reason!
  24. 24. Variations Play with it. Write a scene in one point of view, then rewrite in another. I’ve found that if I rewrite going from first to third, I tend to go through omniscient. First and omniscient lend themselves to “info-dump” which we want to avoid. In third limited, you can’t info-dump.
  25. 25. Voice You will tend to write in the voice you enjoy reading. It’s a psychological issue. Often the voice we fear to write in is our best one. Because it’s cutting an artery instead of a vein to bleed onto the page.
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  27. 27. How to write the book How to be an author “A book to inspire, instruct and challenge the writer in everyone.” #1 NY Times Best-Selling Author Susan Wiggs "An invaluable resource for beginning and seasoned writers alike. Don't miss out." #1 NY Times Best-Selling Author Terry Brooks
  28. 28. “In Who Dares Wins, Bob Mayer gives us a unique and valuable window into the shadowy world of our country’s elite fighting forces and how you can apply many of the concepts and tactics they use for success in your own life and organization.” Jack Canfield: Co-creator Chicken Soup for the Soul and The Success Principles “Success in life—as in combat—has always demanded depth of character. Who Dares Wins reveals what it takes for you to move into the world of elite warriors and how their training developed that Can Do spirit and Special Forces ethos of excellence.” Lewis C. Merletti: Director United States Secret Service (retired), Former Sgt 5th Special Forces Group (Vietnam); Cleveland Browns Executive Vice President & COO
  29. 29. New York Times bestselling author, graduate of West Point and former Green Beret. He’s had over 80 books published across an array of genres, including the #1 bestselling series Green Berets, Shadow Warriors, Time Patrol, Area 51, and Atlantis. He’s presented for over 1,000 organizations during three decades of writing full time. If you’re interested in his weekend intensive workshop or having him present for your group, email him at: