Back to Blog
Learn the four points of view in a novel

What Is Point Of View In A Novel?

It's such a good question. 

Point of View in a novel, or POV for short, can seem like one of the most baffling choices a writer has to make. But it's straightforward once you learn what the choices are, how they work and - crucially - what how to fix it when POV accidently shifts midway through a piece of writing. It can happen to the best of us.

We've made it easy this month by putting together a completely free one-hour workshop which introduces the four choices of point of view for fiction, in a nutshell: 

1. The 'first person'. This is 'me, myself, and I'. A story written from one character's point of view can only include what they know, see, and experience.  

2. The 'second person'. This is when the story's narrator seems to be talking directly to 'you', the reader. They aren't really, of course, but second person point of view can feel very up close and 'in your face'. In fact, the narrator is probably talking to another character, or to themselves, in their head.  It's a tough one to sustain, but it can be very powerful.

3. The 'third person limited'. This means 'he, she, we, us, they', but in a limited way, which makes it a little like 'first person'. The story is told through the perspective of a limited number of characters so, like first and second person, you can only write what they know.  

4. The 'third person omniscient'. This is also 'he', 'she', they', but is an all-seeing, all-knowing eye, casting its gaze over the whole range of your story, getting into every nook and cranny, and multiple characters' points of view. If you're not careful it can get crowded in there (ask Charles Dickens and many of the other great nineteenth century novelists). In the omniscient POV the story has its own 'voice', rather than being narrated by a character in the story or conveyed through their perspective. As the author you choose how that voice sounds. 

These four points of view are the lens through which the reader sees your story. 

That's just the tip of the iceberg and you can have a taste of it for yourself in our free one hour workshop, during October. The workshop is £20 but we've made it free to members of our mailing list, so if you're not yet a member all you have to do is sign up to receive our regular news. Hit this link and it's easy from there.

The free workshop gives you an introduction to viewpoint and point of view choices, then you'll quickly try each of the POVs out for yourself using a crime story scenario. It's amazing how much you can learn and write in just an hour.

And while you're in our website why not have a browse among our other great courses, all designed to get you writing while you learn essential writing skills.

See you soon. 


Stay updated with news and events

As a thank you for subscribing to our news, we'll send you our short series of The Writing Retreat's Top 3 Tips For Writers. These are the things we think every writer could benefit from knowing. Will you? 

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your contact information, for any reason.