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Deciding upon a POV

Forums Fiction General Writing Discussions Deciding upon a POV

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  • #151726
    StorySeeker
    @storyseeker

    So I have this story and there are several things related to this story that I’m debating. But for now, I just want to focus on my questions about the point of view. Some of these questions are nuanced to my situation and others are just general questions about POV.

    How do you know how many points of view to tell the story? You obviously need at least one, but when do you know that you have too many?

    How do you decide which point of view to do? My personal favorite has always been first person, but I know that close third person is also a popular one. How do you know which one to do?

    Now for some more nuanced questions. The type of situation that I have going on with my story is that I am putting my main character through a Jekyll and Hyde situation. My main protagonist is also going to be my main antagonist (not my only antagonist, just the main one for this story). Both sides will know of the other’s existence and will be actively opposing one another but for a long time, they won’t know that they are one and the same person (of course they will eventually find out, but not for a good while).

    I know that in the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story was done from the point of view of another character to bring the reader along for the ride of discovering the mystery. However, this is not what I want to do with my story. Rather, I want to take my reader on the roller coaster as the same character goes through a negative and positive character arc – one side is slowly becoming a villain and the other is slowly becoming a hero. Both sides are going to be compared and contrasted to one another until in the end both sides are merged – forcing my main character to make a “point of no return” decision.

    This leads me to a couple of questions – which point of view do I tell a story where the main point of view is split? I love how first-person promptly forces the reader into the hero’s skin and just in general how personal it is. First-person is the choice that I naturally default to. But would that be too confusing for the reader, given the two sides I’m going to be telling this story from?

    Also, I’m thinking that this story might also include a few scenes from other points of view. I wouldn’t want to tell all the points of view from first person, but would it be acceptable to have the main character be told in first person and the side characters in third?

    Any advice on points of view, in general, would be appreciated.

    #151759
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @storyseeker

    Hi Storyseeker! I’ll see if I can answer a couple of these! Also, your story idea sounds so fascinating! That’ll be a lot of fun to write!

    How do you know how many points of view to tell the story? You obviously need at least one, but when do you know that you have too many?

    Okay, a good rule of thumb is as few as you can, but as many as you need.

    … That didn’t make sense, did it? XD I’ll try to explain a little better.

    When deciding which points of view to keep, I usually think: Will making a character a POV character change the story in a significant way? Will their POV show something that no other POV will?

    If it doesn’t, maybe you don’t need it! So, it’s kinda a process of elimination.

    How do you decide which point of view to do? My personal favorite has always been first person, but I know that close third person is also a popular one. How do you know which one to do?

    This seems to be mostly personal preference! First-person lends a sense of immediacy and makes you feel much closer to the POV character. It’s my preference too! However, you have more room to play with narrative distance in third person!

    But would that be too confusing for the reader, given the two sides I’m going to be telling this story from?

    I’d say, no! It’s a narrative choice, and it might be something you end up changing in revisions, but personally, I think it would be very interesting! It reinforces how it’s one character with two sides to them. The incongruity between them is something you could use.

    I wouldn’t want to tell all the points of view from first person, but would it be acceptable to have the main character be told in first person and the side characters in third?

    Yes! I do this quite a lot. I usually have a few chapters from the side characters’ POV in third person. It’s always worked great for me and gives you interesting perspectives.

    One of the main things I ask myself when choosing which character should narrate any given chapter is to think which character has the most interesting insights into the situation. If any character is going to react to it in an unpredictable way or has an interesting view of the situation, they’re the best POV character.

    However, switching POVs for some chapters has been some of my biggest revision changes. It’s hard to judge ahead of time which character would be best.

    However, fixing it usually isn’t all that hard, especially in individual chapters! You probably won’t get every chapter right on the first try, but that’s okay! That’s actually good, because it gives you the chance to try things out!

    Here’s a video that may help explain it too! It’s a very comprehensive summary of tenses and points of view.

    I hope this helped!

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

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