The Craft of Writing Effective Point of View

Pov2ImageOne of the largest craft issues that I see in the works that I content edit, is weak point of view (POV). Just this week, I’ve had a conversation with several talented authors about this. Is there a “wrong POV?” I don’t think so, but I often think writers employ the wrong one for their work. And I also suspect that’s because it isn’t really taught to us these days.

There are preferred points of view for certain genres; there are reasons why one POV might make your story oodles better than another; and while we should be cautious about carving any of this information into stone, we become much more powerful word managers when we KNOW the “rules” of the game.

Is omniscient POV bad? Of course not, but it is not my favorite, and certainly not a good fit if you’re going for emotional connections with your readers.

Many moons ago, I had a mentor who told me, “Nancy, if you know the rules, you’ll know how to bend them to your advantage if you need to.”

I’ve found that statement to be true in all aspects of life. Understanding the rules and the consequences of bending or breaking them, or the benefits of employing them, makes us more efficient and powerful, in words and in deeds.

Anyway, all these recent conversations made me realize that I want some current books on the topic. I did a bit of research and these two came to light, though there certainly are others. Since I know Alicia Rasley and have learned much from her over the years, I’m listing her book first.

The Power of Point of View: Make Your Story Come to Life by Alicia Rasley. Includes exercises to help us make good choices for our writing. She’s an awesome teacher and the book is well written and a bit entertaining, too. I had some fun with a short story using some of this information and I did change the POV in it.

Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and exercises for crafting dynamic characters and effective viewpoints, by Nancy Kress. Kress is a pretty prolific writer and her books are very well written. Her goal is to teach us how to choose the right POV for our characters and our story, because POV is not a one size fits all type of tool! Includes a large number of examples across the genres. I had fun playing around with the characters in my current WIP.

So, I suggest you read these and then add them to your research arsenal. Chances are you’ll write more than one type of book in your career and the information in these is timeless!

Keep reading and writing!


About NL Quatrano

Award-winning author, speaker, editor and ghost writer, Nancy owns a full-time editing, writing and specialty publishing business: On-Target Words/WC Publishing. Volunteer/member of professional writing organizations including Florida Writers Assoc., Sisters in Crime, and AWAI. 2010 Professional Woman of the Year by the NAPW. Linked in Editor Pick May 2013. International Women's Leadership Association nominee for Outstanding Leadership 2014. Author of Murder in Black and White, Still Shot, Merciful Blessings, and numerous published short stories.
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One Response to The Craft of Writing Effective Point of View

  1. SKL says:

    Timely post! And so true. Thanks for underscoring that omniscient isn’t ideal when you’re trying to create an emotional touchpoint between characters and gosh! isn’t that what it’s all about? Great post!

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