Putting things into perspective

One of the first things you must decide before writing a story is how the story will be told. What point of view is best for the story you want to tell? To me, there are three main narratives, first person, second person and third person. Other, more specific styles of narration are derived from these three forms.

First Person

Pronouns: I, my, me.

The reader gets to walk in the shoes of the narrator as the story unfolds. This means the reader has front row seats to this character’s feelings and thoughts and also how the narrator sees the world and other characters. It’s a very personal kind of perspective. However, by using the first person narrative, it puts a limit to what the narrator, and by extension, the reader, learns and experiences.

Second Person

Pronouns: You, Your.

This one is quite rare in fiction; It’s more for technical writing. “You do this, you see that.” It’s difficult to perfect, but not impossible, so don’t be discouraged to experiment with this style. Second person is like playing a choose your own adventure game, where the reader is a character.

Third Person

Pronouns: He, she, they.

Another popular option that gives the writer more freedom to move around, follow multiple characters and explore multiple rooms of the house, so to speak. It’s a more objective viewpoint, which can lead to a lack of connection with the reader. The audience is privy to more information about the plot, information the main characters may not even be aware of, but not the characters personal thoughts and feelings.

Omniscient Narrator

Usually third person

Now we’re getting into more specific stuff. With this one, the narrator knows everything, from feelings to inner thoughts. Think of it like a God like being looking down at the world and relaying the story. Some can argue that it’s the author themselves telling the story.

Unreliable Narrator

Usually first person

Some narrators just can’t be trusted. The viewpoint of this narrator is very biased. Other characters may not be described accurately because of the narrators own perspective. Certain events can be skewed. Even the narrator himself could be not what he appears to be (Check out the narrator from The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie).

Really take the time to think about whom the narrator will be and how well they can tell your/their story. It’s important for the reader to really connect and be engaged with the character or viewpoint chosen. If you are struggling to decide which narrative you want to use, try multiple styles. It’s like reading an essay for school out loud before handing it in. You’ll know what fits your story best when you read it.

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