3 Tips for Deciding What Point-of-View to Use

Picking a POV

All The New Things

This has been a weird week for me. Between Amazon Prime Day last week, a little space in my budget, and my beginning dealings with a new story, I’ve been trying something new every day this week.

Last week, during Amazon Prime Day, I finally replaced my fitness tracker that I broke up with 2 months ago. If you’re gonna make me un-pair/re-pair every time I want to sync my tracker? AND not save any data from previous days? You’re not worth it.

So, this week has been full of reminders to get up and walk around every hour while at day-job. And me actually using the My FitnessPal App to track my meal intake. Which of course led me to put in for that standing/sitting desk topper that my work offers to get people if they put in a request. Which led me to finding a $50 elliptical on Craigslist. Which is now sitting in my sunroom, awaiting time to see if it can fit into my tiny spare bedroom of a ‘workout room’.

AND? I picked up an Instapot. A friend came over and we (mostly she) experimented. I’m still getting used to my new grocery store and I might have to switch because this one didn’t have everything I wanted. But the honey-garlic glazed chicken was AMAZING. (Plus, we finally got back to watching Grace and Frankie on NetFlicks for the first time since I moved!)

And? Remember that story I was talking about last week? That new one that I was scared to write, worried it could never measure up? Well, I’m about 900 words into it and I, for the life of me, cannot decide if I want to use 1st-person or 3rd-person point-of-view (POV).

True, I could also debate tense, but I’m comfortable in past tense and not looking to switch it up for a novel.

You’re more likely to see, “The welcoming aroma of a savory stew drifted past the cupboards and made my stomach grumble, but CHARACTER politely ignored it.”

than

“The welcoming aroma of a savory stew drifts past the cupboards and makes my stomach grumble, but CHARACTER politely ignores it.”

Morgan looks stressed and confused

POV Decision Factors

    1. What are you most comfortable with?

      Me? I’m most comfortable with 1st-person. It’s how I think, how I see my world and characters. When I’m first learning about a character and world, I make notes, but when I’m starting a story, I fall directly into 1st-person.

    2. What are the genre expectations?

      Traditionally, novels were written in 3rd-person.

      You have options in 3rd that you don’t have in 1st.

      • You can have outside information.
      • If you have more than one Main Character, it can be less confusing to the reader.
      • You can be all-knowing. OR.
      • You can do what’s known as ‘3rd-person close’, in which your story is told from basically a GoPro watching over the main character(s), that can also dip into your main character’s head and share their thoughts.

      But I write YA (and maybe MG? A chapter book? What is this new thing turning into) These days, 1st person is becoming more and more popular.

      Look at your genre’s trends.

    3. What Feels Write Right For Your Story?

      When all else fails, just see what works for your story!

      If you need to, write a chapter in one POV, and then switch it to the other.

      Personally, my 3rd-person still feels clunky, but I’d like my story to have a fairytale sort of feel to it, so I’m going to keep on trying and see if I get it right. So, this is a case of ‘wrong for me, but maybe right for the story.’

      I’ll just have to keep writing to find out if I made the right call.


***

How do you decide what point of view and tense to use in your stories?

Have you ever gotten it wrong?

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10 thoughts on “3 Tips for Deciding What Point-of-View to Use

  1. I use past tense as the default. I would only use present tense if I needed to give the story a sense of immediacy. Like if I was writing a thriller. And if you are using present tense, aren’t you also writing first person?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve flip flopped a lot, but I really do feel like the story chooses. It either sounds right or it feels wrong. I grew accustomed to third person writing with a co-author, so that tends to be my default. But, on occasion, I wrote in first person. And, as with your current dilemma, my soon-to-be wip is having POV issues. It’s for nanowrimo, so I have time to decide, but the small snippets I’ve written go between first and third. 🤷🏻‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The title of your post caught my eye. I once wrote a story… three times. First I wrote it in the third person, as an adult.

    That didn’t feel right, so I rewrote it from the first person as an adult remembering a childhood event.

    That still didn’t do it for me, so I rewrote it a third time, this time in the first person, present tense, as the child herself. Me. If you’re interested, it’s called “Billy and Me,” and it’s here: https://crossedeyesanddottedtees.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/billy-and-me/ .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I usually go with third person, because when I do first everything tends to ramble and my author’s voice reveals itself as a complete smartass. Which doesn’t always work for the character that’s supposedly “speaking,” heh.

    Like

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