01 August 2011

Change Your POV

Someone once asked me why changing the point of view of a story is so important when you get stuck. This is harder to explain than if I just show it. But, I'll explain first and then show an example.

When I start out a story in one POV, like 3rd person POV, I have more freedom to develop my main character. It's easier to describe their actions externally and I can paint them how I want, but it's more difficult to convey their thoughts and develop the character from an internal aspect.

Some differences that I see when changing POV is that I'm careful not to pay too much attention to myself as the main character while in 1st person POV. It's a different feel to it because the way I show my character is limited but it also has to feel real. In the examples below, there's such a big difference in the way the story is told and that's why changing the POV could show you a different path that might be better for your story.

This is the opening paragraphs of a short story I wrote about a disturbed teenager involved in an online text-based role-playing game. Written in 3rd person POV, it feels like a story being told.

"How about that ownage ya fucking putz." Todd unleashed the last missile from his character's repertoire of spells. His latest victim fell to the floor in a heap. Todd hit the F6 function key on his keyboard to bury the corpse and to reveal the entire inventory dropped by the now dead elf, Tolkien Vernette. He pressed F2 and picked up the loot. Two Swords of Taiken, three golden gauntlets and a pile of coins.

"Easiest level 42 punk I ever took out," he said. He flipped up his middle finger to the computer monitor, his knuckle making contact with the glass surface. Thunk. He pushed the keyboard aside and made his journey to the bedroom, his bulkiness filling the hallway. It was 2 a.m. and a school night.

The same opening paragraphs written in 1st person POV is drastically changed to connote a disturbed kid without the character having to tell the reader anything at all. Everything is conveyed through the actions of the main character and it feels like a story unfolding.

I typed in the last missile command to kill the elf. Stupid mortal. I laughed and finished him off. Pretty weak of him to run, but it was fun watching him drop to the floor. One dead elf named Tolkien Vernette. Bury. Get all. Sweet! Two Swords of Taiken, three golden gauntlets and a shit load of coins.

It was too easy. I flipped the bird at the computer. "Rest in peace, dipshit." Then I went to bed because it was a school night.

I think every writer should play around with POV because not all stories are best told in one POV over the other. My rule is if I want to tell a story, I use 3rd person limited. When I want to experience a story as a particular character, I use 1st person.


  1. Great idea! I switched pov's once from one character to another, and I got to know this other character much better. It also clarified the plot in my head. I only wrote about 2 1/2 chapters in his pov, but it helped a lot!

  2. I think it's so important to find the POV that is best for the story, and sometimes that means playing around with which character should tell the story and whether it should be told from first or third person. It takes a little extra time, but it's like magic when you find the POV that works.

  3. One of my assignments was to change a POV to that of a child at age 4 or so. That was so hard, but it made the story way different and even better! Loved it.

  4. It is important! I find that I run into the same issue - if I write in the 1st person, I run the risk of making the character too too much like me. If I write in the 1st person, the character HAS to be developed so much that its impossible for me to confuse the two. But more often than not, the characters are somewhat based off me. So, changing POV or even who the person is telling the story is a very good idea!

  5. Nicole, just last week I read a short story that was 1st person point of view. I didn't realize until the end of the story that the character was a hen in a chicken coop. It was an amazingly good read! This is why I love to read and write.


I welcome feedback, so please leave your thoughts.

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