Friday, March 25, 2011
POV: Privately Owned Vehicle
Recently, I admitted I only write in first person POV. Call me lazy, but it's easy for me. There's one person to keep track of, and I've been able to blissfully ignore all the POV issues that writers discuss.
(Addendum: I'm getting flack for saying first person POV is easy! I've never tried any other POV's because first person is my comfort zone. :) I feel better knowing that it's not an easy POV at all. Yay, I'm not lazy after all!)
So I thought I'd look into it a bit.
After Googling "POV" I found that the first searches that popped up said it stood for "Privately Owned Vehicle."
Not what I was looking for.
Or was it?
I mean, when we choose a POV (as masters of our fictional universe) we are choosing Our Privately Owned Vehicle of story delivery, so to speak.
So what are the different Privately Owned Vehicles encountered in fiction?
1) FIRST PERSON. The "I, me, my, myself" point of view. Many find this a great way of making the reader intimately identify with the main character. In this case, the character's voice colors the descriptive passages.
Limitations include the fact that many behind-the-scenes experiences cannot be included if the MC isn't there. You can't get inside the head of anyone else.
Example: Lots of YA, like the Hunger Games Trilogy
a) First person collective (like the Borg! "We do this, we do that"). Very unusual but striking nonetheless.
Example: The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides
b) First person omniscient. Told as first person, but the MC has knowledge of those around them. Also rarely done.
Example: The Book Thief, by Zusak
2) SECOND PERSON. This is the "you did this, you go there." In some ways, it feels very commanding. It also forces the reader into the shoes of the main character, which can be compelling. Another hard-to-find one.
Example: Jay McInerny's Bright Lights, Big City is famous for this POV.
3) THIRD PERSON. This is the "he, she, they" kind of writing. In these, the descriptive passages are colored by the author's voice, rather than the main character's.
a) Third Person Omniscient: with this method, the narrator has no personal part in the story itself, and has a God-like, all-knowing perspective of that fictional world.
Example: Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Jane Austen's books
b) Universal Omniscient, in which the narrator knows everything, including things the main character does not ("Little did he know, he'd be eating his toenail clippings for breakfast").
c) Third Person Subjective/Limited: here, the reader is allowed into the mind of only one character at a time, but sees all through the eyes of that character. It lacks the "all knowing" perspective seen in the omniscient POV.
Example: Harry Potter books
d) Third Person Objective, in which the narrator is devoid of any emotion, often seen in journalism like articles.
Here are a couple of sites that further discuss POV:
POV for Dummies
The Writer's Craft
Writers in Progress
So, do you have a favorite POV to read or write?