Literary Devices 101 – Point of View

bookstwoMorgueThis week we are going to discuss Point of View, otherwise referred to as POV. Basically POV refers to whom is speaking or narrating a particular piece. In other words, the point of view tells you who is speaking or whose perspective is being illustrated throughout a story. Point of view can change as different aspects of a tale are revealed or it can be fixed throughout the entire piece.

Most of the time you instinctively recognize the point of view as you read something even if you are not aware of it. This is fine for the average reader but it is not good enough for a writer! To write effectively you need to master using points of view and that starts with understanding what they are and how to recognize them.

First-person point of view tells a story through the voice of the speaker. You can easily recognize it because it uses the pronouns I, we, me, my, or mine. This type of point of view can get repetitive quickly but it can also make a reader feel like they are seeing through the eyes of a character.

Second-person point of view uses the pronouns you and your and this gives the impression that the author is speaking directly to you, the reader. This point of view is not often used, but when it is you generally find that it’s intended to draw you into the tale and create emotions such as sympathy or even anger.

The third-person point of view uses he, she, it, or they. This point of view generally takes one of two forms, omniscient or limited. In third-person omniscient, the reader gets to know the thoughts of every character. In third-person limited, the reader only gets to see inside the mind of one characer.

As you can see, the use of pronouns is your largest clue as to the point of view of any given piece. Paying attention to your pronoun use will help highlight unintended point of view shifts. This is an easy problem to have, especially if you’re new to writing narratives or dialog. As a writer you should aim to use point of view with intention, knowing that it can either add to or detract from your piece.