Last week I glided across the subject of Point of View (POV). So how ’bout we stop and take a look at the topic this week. For you writers, the topic may help you decide what kind of story you want to write next. For you readers, the topic will give you an understanding of how different kinds of stories work, and why you like certain types of writing over others. First, my personal definitions of various POVs I’ll discuss:
Third person multiple—story is told from the perspective of more than one character and uses “he” and “she.”
Third person singular—story is told from perspective of only one character, using “he” or “she.”
Omniscient—story is told from a removed and roving perspective, allowing reader to flick in and out of many characters’ heads within one scene. Uses “he” and “she.” This POV is not used much today, although it was common in the days of the classics.
First person, immediate perspective—character tells the story just after each event happens, using “I.”
First person, past perspective—character tells a story that took place some time ago in his/her life, using “I.”
A quick note about the last two definitions. Many writers are unaware that different kinds of first person POV even exist. But the differences can make a real distinction in the way the story is told. More on this another day.
I’ve written in numerous of the above POVs one time or another. I have not written in third person singular POV. Started out to do it once and couldn’t. I personally find it to be a weak POV. (More on this later, as well.) And I don’t write in the omniscient POV because my editor would bong me over the head.
So what’s the best POV for suspense? Here’s my firm, bedrock answer: it depends upon the story.
Many novels automatically require using the third person, multiple POV. In general, I’d say this is the easiest to use. Stories of this type evolve by showing the reader, usually in chronological form, sequences of events in various characters’ lives that build up to the crisis/climax. If you think about it, you’ll realize this is the POV that movies typically use. We viewers jump from scene to scene, seeing what different characters are doing. Perhaps because we are so used to seeing this form of storytelling in movies and TV, and because it’s easiest to write, third person multiple POV has become the most often used in novels. Tomorrow we’ll look at its strengths for the suspense novel.
Do you prefer to read/write in a particular POV? Do you have a particular question about the POV topic? Hit the comments button below to post a response.
Read Part 2