Just Write

A Variety of Point of Views

Point of View (POV)- is the term to describe who is telling the story . . . or. . . who is narrating the story.

Point of view is the story told from the narrator’s viewpoint and what the narrator’s relation is to the story, or . . . the distance between the narrator and the story, as well as the trustworthiness of the narrator.

Involved narrator – the narrator is involved in the action as it unfolds

Detached narrator – narrator is an objective observer or witness to the action

Reliable narrator – a narrator whose account and perceptions we can trust

Unreliable narrator – a narrator whose own ignorance, mental or emotional state, age, prejudice, etc. may distort or limit his or her perceptions

Free indirect style – a lesser know POV, a style of third-person narration, using some of the characteristics of third-person along with the essence of first-person direct speech. We will explore this style in a future blog post.


First person: Autobiographies and memoir

POV can be any of the following in fiction and non-fiction:

First person narrator: Narrator is a character in the story and narrates the story using the pronoun “I.”

Second person narrator: Rarely used, the second person narrator uses an identified or unidentified ‘you’ throughout the story.

Third person narrator: This narrator is a voice outside the story and tells the story using the pronouns “he, she, and they.” Sometimes the third person narrator is defined, sometimes the third person narrator is unknown. That is, the reader doesn’t know who the narrator is.

The third person narrator can be omniscient or limited.

The omniscient third person narrator is all-knowing, able to move in and out of the thoughts of all the characters and to comment on events before and after the scene has happened.

The limited third person narrator is limited to knowledge about a single character, or one character at a time.

How third person narrator operates:

Narrative distance: Third person narrator can zoom in or zoom out to show narrative distance.

~Zoom in: Close, as if beside the character

~Zoom out: Objective and distant, observing in a general way, like a fly on the wall

Really close: Inside the character’s consciousness and skin: can describe sensations, perceptions, inner workings, and responses of the character.


It was the winter of 1993. A solitary figure walked through the snowy streets of Manhattan. Narrator seems to be floating high above the roofline, gazing down on the snowy streets = omniscient.

Edward Tollivar leaned into the wind. The cold sliced through his coat as he walked through the snow to Tracy Covey’s house on Jane Street. Camera moves closer. Narrator is striding alongside Edward and tells us where he is going.

A sick heat spread through Edward’s chest, though the snow whipped in sharp slices across his face coat. His fingers touched the letters in his pocket. He didn’t want to show them to his cousin. Everything he’d hoped to hide was there. Narrator’s voice inhabits Edward’s body, experiencing the sick heat in his chest and fingering the letters in his pocket. The narrator knows Edward’s thoughts and fears as intimately as the first person narrative.

Finding Your Writers VoiceSelections from Finding Your Writer’s Voice: A Guide to Creative Fiction, by Thaisa Frank and Dorothy Wall, inspired this post.

Explore more about point of view in past posts:

POV Is Like A Photographer’s Lens

Scene One – Your Point of View. Prompt #108

And then . . .  Just Write.


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