Whose Story Is It?

 by Sparkle Abbey

At our most recent Sisters in Crime meeting the discussion topic was “Point of View.” An easy technique for some writers, a more difficult one for others. 

Whether using first-person point of view as we do in our books, or third person which is very common in fiction writing, the choice of point of view is an important choice that a writer makes when beginning to tell a story. It will impact every other choice you make along the way. 

First person point of view is narrated by a character in the story. In our case, Caro or Mel, depending on the book. So you never get the story from anyone else’s perspective. First person sounds like this, “I don’t normally break into people’s homes, but today I was making an exception.” 

Second person, puts the reader into the story as a character. This isn’t one we’ve used very much. It sounds like this, “You went to work that morning and first thing, you decide you need more coffee.” 

Third person limited only lets the reader know what one character at a time thinks and sees. This one is pretty common and can be a very effective way to add suspense to a story. It sounds like this, “He had played this same game before and had anticipated this time out it would be something of a let down.” That’s from the brilliant Mary Higgins Clark’s “You Belong to Me.” Certainly a master of suspense writing!

With third person omniscient point of view anything can be revealed about anyone. It’s often used at the beginning of a story and then the writer shifts to other POVs to move the reader closer. Many times it reads like this, “Little did they know that…” It’s the wide shot and can be an intriguing method to get a readers attention. 

In our opinion, the bottom line is that the very best point of view is the one that goes unnoticed. It’s a matter of  – whose story is it? Who can best tell the story in such a way that we don’t even think about it. We’re just along for the ride!

So readers, do you notice point of view when you read? And do you have a preference for a particular POV? 

Sparkle Abbey’s latest story (written in first person) is a short but fun one. If you’ve not yet checked out PROJECT DOGWAY, this is a great time to do that. 

Sparkle Abbey is actually two
Mary Lee Ashford and Anita Carter,
who write the national best-selling Pampered Pets cozy mystery series. They are
friends as well as neighbors so they often get together and plot ways to commit
murder. (But don’t tell the other neighbors.) 

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6 replies
  1. Kathryn Lane
    Kathryn Lane says:

    When I get on a roll as I'm writing, I forget POV. But then during my editing process, I usually catch most of the errors in POV. And what I don't catch, my editor does.
    When I'm reading other authors, I'm very conscious of POV.

  2. Debra H. Goldstein
    Debra H. Goldstein says:

    I've become more aware of POV (but like Kathryn, often slip in the draft), especially considering what a person can see or can't see, etc.

  3. Saralyn
    Saralyn says:

    I teach creative writing, and POV is the most difficult lesson to grasp. I like your maxim that the best POV is one that goes unnoticed. I'll have to borrow that. 🙂

  4. Donnell Ann Bell
    Donnell Ann Bell says:

    Such a great topic for writing. POV (But Whose Story is It?) is even a better one. Currently, I'm writing a task force series and I go into four points of view. But that "Whose Story is It" keeps rearing its head to keep me in constant doubt. So I tell myself. It's the task force's story and the protagonists and antagonists playing a deadly came of hide and go seek. Thanks, Sparkle Abbey! xo

  5. Donnell Ann Bell
    Donnell Ann Bell says:

    P.S. I always work to keep a tight rein on POV because I have many characters. But these characters don't operate in a vacuum and the more important question is: Are your POV characters necessary?

  6. Gay Yellen
    Gay Yellen says:

    Interesting subject, Gang. I wrote the first book in my series in third person. As I began the second book, I felt the need to amplify the "voice" of my main character and changed the POV to first person so Samantha could tell her own story. It was an even bigger success than the first. I wondered if Book 1 readers would notice the change. Thousands of readers later, no one seemed to notice.

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