a writer simply means … How are you going to tell your story?
Broadly speaking, POV falls into four
Omniscient. This is the writer-as-god approach. You, the author, are the unseen narrator who knows everything, who shares with the reader what every character is thinking and doing – and reveal information to your reader that none of your characters know about. Omniscient
is plot-driven, rather than character-driven – which, to me, demands that your plot be strong.
First Person. Your main character is the narrator – “I” am telling the tale. At its best, first person can give the reader a sense of immediacy. At its worst, first person POV leads to a story that's more “tell” than “show.” “I was afraid.” “I was happy.” However, in the hands of a skilled writer, first person can be extremely effective.
The plus – and negative – of first person is that your POV is limited. The reader knows only what the first person narrator knows. If you suddenly want your reader to know information that's hidden from the narrator, you may have a problem.
On the other hand, it can lead to some very effective foreshadowing. “If I'd known what was on the other side of that door, I would have run like hell in the other direction.” You also can really get into the mind of your narrator, and it's effective for either plot-driven (think all those hardboiled detective novels) or character-driven work.
Second Person. Other than the “choose your adventure” books popular a few years ago, I haven't seen many novels written in this POV. Second person is “you.” In effect, you're making the reader the protagonist of your book – or inviting him/her along as the protagonist's sidekick. Again, the perspective is limited. Your reader, as the “you” of your story, knows only what he/she can see happening, or can discover.
Third Person Limited. This is similar to First Person in that the author
disappears, and all the action unfolds through the eyes of a single character.
It also has the same advantage of bringing your reader into the mind of your
My first two Portals novels, Shadow Path and Stormcaller, were written from the third-person POV of a single character, my human protagonist Kat Morales. But, like omniscient POV, third person lends itself to writing in multiple points of view as well.
What separates third-person multiple POV from omniscient is how it's written. In third-person multiple, you devote an entire scene to one character. For example, I've written one scene from Kat's POV, then in the next scene, looked at events entirely through the eyes of her elf partner, Tevis, picking up his thoughts, his feelings, his observations.
You also have the freedom, with this POV, to show your reader events that you want to conceal from your protagonist. Several scenes in Deathtalker, book 3 in Portals, were written from the villain's POV – information that Kat and Tevis (and their allies) were not privy to.
What's the best point-of-view to write from? You'll find a variety of opinions both on the Internet and in any “how-to” book (or class) for writers that you care to check out. You'll find comments about what readers like (or don't like).
Just about any “rule” you care to formulate about POV has been, or will be, broken at some time – and broken successfully. For me, the best POV is the one that helps the writer tell his or her story effectively.
What/where is your comfort level? That's the POV you want to use.
(A little note on the photo: That's me with my beloved, now departed, Shilo. The photo was taken by a friend at a writer's conference in Casper, Wyo., a few years ago.)