Writers Write is a writing resource. In this post, we look at the 4 viewpoint choices for writers.
Ok, so this post has nothing to do with James Bond and everything to do with viewpoint.
For most writers, viewpoint is instinctive. We tend to use the viewpoint we are most comfortable with. Take a look at your favourite books, the ones you tend to reread. Chances are you will write in the same viewpoint they are written in.
Primarily, viewpoint is a matter of distance. The closer you get to the reader the closer you are to engaging the reader’s emotions. Viewpoint can become overwhelming and complicated, but if you keep it simple and if you are consistent, you’ll be fine.
4 Viewpoint Choices For Writers
Narrators. Using a narrator or an omniscient viewpoint puts your reader far away. The story is told from a distance. The narrator tells the story, but is not involved. He or she becomes an observer. In the case of an omniscient narrator, the teller will know all and see all. The thoughts, feelings, plans and schemes of the characters are known to the reader.
Third person. Third person attached moves closer. You move into the head of one or more of your characters. You can tell your story using only one character or you can use several. Multiple viewpoints are used to great effect, but remember to stick to one viewpoint per scene. I’d be careful of using more than three or four. Too many viewpoints annoy readers. You also have to create distinct voices for each character.
Second person. Second person creates an intrusive intimacy. You experience the story almost as if you are there, because YOU step in the blood. YOU shiver as the warm liquid sticks to your skin and squelches between your toes. You see, it is intrusive. It is close, and it can become overwhelming. But I kind of like it.
First person. First person gets you close. You see the story through your protagonist’s eyes. Everything is skewed and dependent on their perspective. You can use multiple first person viewpoints, but once again, make sure the voices are distinct. Here, you don’t even have the character’s names to help your reader. Your story is also limited at times, especially if you use only one character.
Some genres prefer certain viewpoints. Crime and Romance are traditionally written in third person, most YA tends to be in first person. Second person is used in more experimental writing.
- Are you showing off?
- Are you changing it for the sake of it?
- Does it serve your story?
Examine the traditional uses and read authors who experiment with viewpoint.
Have fun and play with viewpoint.
by Mia Botha
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