Guest Blogger – Massimo Marino on Point of View

Where does the Point of View point to?

Point of view is the perspective from which a story is told. Stories can be narrated in:

First person, using “I” or “we”

Third person (“he,” “she,” “it”), which can be limited or omniscient

Second person, “you.” Rare, the least common point of view. We won’t go into that, even.

Different point of view allow the writer to develop the characters and narrate the story in a different way. What is shown in Third Person, might not be possible to narrate in First Person, and viceversa.

First Person Point of View

First person limits the narration to one character’s perspective. The first person point of view puts readers right there with the character; Readers follow every narrator thought and knows what the narrator knows. Nothing more, nothing less. First person feels more personal and with good character development can engage readers in an effective way.

What about unreliable narrators and first person? Well, if the readers can’t get into the character’s mind, and “live” the story as if they “were” the character, the story feels unengaging, and readers will soon lose interest.

First person’s narration requires a strong voice and a well developed character. The writer needs to stay “in character” all the time and identify with the character him/herself rather than narrating the story from the writer’s point of view. Not easy as many believe it is. A reader put it this way: “When I write in first person, I tend to make the story more personal to me, which can limit how far I will go with a character. Third person isn’t as much about me, and I can be much freer with the plot.”

That is a common mistake. There’s no “I” in First Person point of view, for so to say; the “I” is of another person, not the writer’s.

In my first two volumes of the “Daimones Trilogy”, Daimones (Daimones Trilogy) and Once Humans (Daimones Trilogy), the narration is from the main character’s point of view. But it is Dan’s voice and thoughts. His actions and considerations are not mine. When I wrote as Dan, I wasn’t Massimo Marino, and I questioned his choices and his words, as much as any other reader could.

Third Person Point of View

Though first person can be powerful, third person is more versatile. Third person allows the writer to create a more complicated universe. The show can… show more things that would be unknown to the First Person character.

Beginning writers tend to fall back on first person, because of the myth that FP is easier (the mistake described above) or because they are indeed writing about themselves… But one must have had a heck of a real life to write an autobiographical story. Not even the greatest and the famous deserve an autobiography to be written. Go tell that to publicists in the music record industry or in Hollywood, though 😉

Consider trying third person. Doing this will actually help you to view your story more dispassionately and therefore allow you to show it more effectively. It might also show you directions for the story you haven’t considered before.

At first, it may be easiest to use third person limited, which adheres closely to one person’s point of view. As your plots become more complicated, you may find you need more than one point of view to tell your story and begin to use omniscient. Indeed this is the case with the Vol.3 of the Daimones Trilogy. Although the Selected in the Trilogy have acquired inhuman capabilities, with complex plots—as a writer—you might find yourself in need to show events from the eyes of other characters, and only Third Person will come to rescue.

Moreover, if the writer knows what to do, he will avoid to fall in the trap of head-hopping, and readers will be happy.

If you keep hitting a wall in a story, consider switching point of view. For most people, this will involve going from first person to third. Beginning writers may groan at the idea of rewriting an entire story, but for professional writers, such experimentation is par for the course. If it’s your first time to consider such a switch, don’t be afraid, you might be surprised and glad you did.

Have you ever done the switch Massimo suggests?

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8 thoughts on “Guest Blogger – Massimo Marino on Point of View

    • Thank you, William. POV is indeed a matter of preference but also has some roots in how a story will read or will be narrated. 1st POV narration makes for amazingly deep character build and tend to be more intimate but doesn’t have the flexibility of 3rd person, especially when many characters interact in a complex plot.

    • Indeed, TD. A writer can be more comfortable with one more than another but the story, the plot, the number of characters, the way the interactions play in the mind of the author dictate more than preference what PoV is called for.

  1. Pingback: Third Limited Point of View | Nina Kaytel

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