Today I would like to discuss the different perspectives that writers are able to use, and how each one will change your story dramatically. First and foremost, these perspectives are:
- 1st Person = From the perspective of the narrator, using the pronoun “I”
- 2nd Person = Directed towards the reader, using the pronoun “you”
- 3rd Person = From an outside source, or the perspective of the writer, using pronouns such as “they, he, she, etc.”
Usually, the most common perspective to use in novels is the 1st person perspective. However, this perspective is tricky and the writer needs to have some necessary knowledge of what using this perspective entails, and what you can and can’t include. The main thing you must understand is that by using this perspective you are choosing to write your story from the perspective of one of your characters. Because of this, you won’t be able to talk about certain elements of your story that the character you are speaking from wouldn’t know about.
For example, if your main character doesn’t know that her parents are about to divorce, you can’t talk about this from her perspective.
You are limiting your knowledge base by using this perspective, but it also opens you up to include surprises and plot twists in your story due to the fact that your narrator’s knowledge base won’t be as vast. In my opinion, this perspective is best if you are trying to portray your main character on a deeper level in order to have your reader empathize with them. It is also better if your cast of characters is not as vast, and you won’t need to expand on your other characters quite as much. For example, I would use this perspective if I were writing about a character going through a personal change or break through in order to have the reader understand them better.
The second most common perspective is third person, and it happens to be my favorite perspective. The beauty about third person perspective is that you are using pronouns such as “they, he, or she” and you are able to narrate as the writer yourself. Because of this, your entire knowledge base is susceptible to being used since you don’t have to make sure that you are only writing from the perspective of one character. This perspective is best used for a large cast of characters since you can move around the characters and focus on different ones throughout the novel.
The last perspective, and possibly the hardest to pull off, is second person perspective. Second person perspective essentially uses the pronoun “you” and makes the reader a big part of the story. This perspective is hard to pull off because you will be talking to the reader and have your story revolve around them. By doing this, you have to imagine what your reader’s knowledge base is about your story, and you are limited by that knowledge base. However, if this perspective is used well it can transport the reader directly into the novel and allow them to imagine themselves interacting with the characters in their world. I would not use this perspective if you are trying to convey your story to the reader and not treat them as an active part of the story because you won’t be able to use descriptions and outside plots as much as you would in the other perspectives. However, this one is fun to play and I would suggest using it if you want to create a full-blown experiences for the reader. Think of this perspective as a person playing a video game. When people play video games they become part of the game themselves, and that is what this perspective will help you do with your novel.
By understanding all of the different perspectives in detail, you will be better able to write a novel that appeals to a larger audience. Each story is fit for a different perspective and vice versa, and I have outlined for you below what my suggestions are for all three perspectives.
- 1st Person = good for stories with a smaller cast of characters, and a focus on a single character to portray their experience and emotions better.
- 2nd Person = useful for stories that aim to include the reader in the plot. By making the reader feel a part of the story, your story will have to revolve around them. Not recommended for stories with a large cast of characters that involve outside stories that the reader themselves as a character would not experience
- 3rd Person = Essential for stories with a big cast of characters so that you are able to expand on each character and unite them all into the same story. You will be better able to include extra information with this perspective, because your narrator’s knowledge base won’t be limited.
Always remember that you can go back through a story and change the perspective if needed. Each perspective has its own benefits and downfalls, and as an author you will know what is best for you. But I urge you to try each perspective out and determine what your favorite is, and which one you think will be the most beneficial for you in your writing. I hope this helps, and please leave questions below if you would like anymore tips or information!
One thought on “Writing Tip: Determining Which Writing Perspective is Right for You”
I much prefer third person narration. It’s easier for description as well. A lot of first-person narrators fall into the trap of “I suppose I should tell you a bit about myself. I have brown hair…..” It seems completely forced and unnatural, whereas using third person narration, details can be added gradually in a more natural way. I’ve only done one “professional” piece of creative writing – a short story – and I chose the third person to narrate in. You can read it here: https://readandreview2016.wordpress.com/2016/04/14/short-story-white-winter-mist/
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