Just Write

Who is telling your story?

When you think about point of view, you have a few choices about who is telling your story and how. At what level is your narrator speaking? What character(s) does the story follow? Why are they telling it? 

Whichever choices you make, the only thing that matters is that you have a reason for doing so. 

For example, you could write 3rd person and follow one main character as in Harry Potter. Or, you could write 3rd person and cover multiple characters as in Six of Crows. There’s also 2nd person, which is rarely used. And 1st person with one or more points of view. When you switch perspectives, there should be a distinct change in voice (via sentence structure, length of sentences, language choices etc.) or your characters won’t feel unique.

Also to be considered is the closeness of the narration. Does the narrator oversee everything in a godlike manner? Are they a close personal friend of the protagonist? Or, is the protagonist telling the story from that vantage point?

Here’s a comparison from my 30-Day Writing Challenge Book:

  • Charlie inhaled the salty air, calming herself from the anger bubbling up after the fight with her father.” 
  • Compared to a close friend of the character, “Charlie knew the only way to calm herself after a fight with her father about how to pay for college, one that seemed to never end, was to sit on the beach listening to the waves crash along the shore, salty air filling her lungs.”
  • While the character’s own perspective might sound more like, “Charlie’s anger felt tangible in her chest, tears threatened to fall with each wave crashing into the shore. Her father’s words rang in her ear. She’d never have the money to pay for college without him and he’d never let her go where she wanted. The only thing that calmed her ragged breath was to fill her lungs with the salty air of the ocean. 

Basically, think about which character has the most interesting story to tell. Who changes from start to finish? What’s the timeframe the story takes place? Be conscious of what you want to say and which character is the best one to tell it. If you know why you’re choosing the techniques you are, your readers will have a clearer idea as well. 

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