Narrative point of view in fiction writing is one of the styles of writing which depicts how a story is being told. In other words we can say it shows how the narrator is telling the story. The narrator might be the author herself or might be one of the characters in the story who is chosen by the author to narrate the tale to the readers.
There are mainly three types of narrative point of views-
1. First person point of view.
2. Second person point of view.
3. Third person point of view.
Let’s take each style in detail.
1. FIRST PERSON POINT OF VIEW- When the narrative voice uses words such as ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘my’ while narrating the story, it means the author is using the first person narrative point of view. This particular style is more close and personal. Usually, the protagonist or the main character of the story uses the first person style of point of view but in some cases the author/writer might choose a different character to narrate the story. In this style, we get to know the happenings and the outcomes from the point of view of the narrator. We can assume that we get to see only one side of the coin while the other is kept hidden and is open for speculation or assumptions.
In order to successfully write in this particular narrative point of view, the author/writer must pay attention to the following points-
- Stay true to your character’s voice.
- Try to get inside your characters head to think and speak like they do.
- To make it easier, try to come up with a character who is much like you.
Some people think that first person point of view is restricted to autobiographies but, good pieces of fiction have been written in this style. Readers connect instantly when a writer uses first person narrative.
Here is an excerpt from my favourite vampire fiction- Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer.
I should be avoiding him entirely after my brainless and embarrassing babbling yesterday. And I was suspicious of him; why should he lie about his eyes? I was still frightened of the hostility I sometimes felt emanating from him, and I was still tongue tied whenever I pictured his perfect face. I was well aware that my league and his league were spheres that did not touch. So I shouldn’t be at all anxious to see him today.
2. SECOND PERSON POINT OF VIEW- When the narrative voice uses words such as ‘you’ and ‘your’ while narrating the story, we say that the author is using second person narrative style. It is more difficult to master and is not commonly used. The author/writer at times talks directly to the reader or maybe talking to another character in the story. This narrative point of view can get confusing and hence, modern day writers stay away from it.
Here is an excerpt from the novel- Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas by Tom Robbins-
When the stock market crashes on the Thursday before Easter, you- an ambitious, although ineffectual and not entirely ethical young broker- are convinced that you’re facing the weekend from Hell. Before the market reopens on Monday, you’re going to have to scramble and scheme to cover your butt, but there’s no way you can anticipate the baffling disappearance of a 300-pound psychic, the fall from grace of a born-again monkey, or the intrusion in your life of a tattooed stranger intent on blowing your mind and most of your fuses.
I believe the above excerpt would have given you a clearer idea on how to approach the second person narrative style of writing.
3. THIRD PERSON POINT OF VIEW- When the narrative voice uses words such as ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘they’,’him’,etc. we say that the author is using third person narrative point of view. This is the most popular point of view and most of the novels or stories are written in this style. The narrator is omniscient i.e. he is a ‘know it all’. He knows about the protagonist, supporting characters and even the extra characters that appear only once or twice in the entire story. One major benefit of writing in this style is that information is available about everything and everyone but one drawback is that it can get confusing at times.
Here is an excerpt from my favourite novel- The Stars Shine Down, by Sidney Sheldon.
Early Monday morning, Lara appeared at Horace Guttman’s office, carrying the blueprints for the Queens Project. She was ushered in immediately.
‘Nice to see you, Lara. Sit down.’
She laid the blueprints on his desk and sat across from him.
‘Before you look at these,’ Lara said, ‘I have something to confess, Horace.’
Guttman leaned back in his chair. ‘Yes?’
‘That story I told on Saturday about Gary, Indiana…’
‘What about it?’
‘I’ve never been to Gary, Indiana. I was trying to impress you.’
He laughed. ‘Now you’ve succeeded in confusing me. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to keep up with you, young lady. Let’s look at these blueprints.’
Half an hour later, he was through examining it.
Did you notice that apart from the dialogues, narrator stuck to the either the names of the characters or used pronouns to describe their actions.
In this article we covered the three main styles of narrative point of view. There are many sub parts as well, but we’ll cover them in later articles. I hope this one turned out to be useful for you. If yes, then do leave your valuable feedback and if no, then too I would love to get some constructive feedback J