Point of View

Point of View Guiding Questions

How does the author’s point of view affect the way the story or argument is told? What is gained by this perspective thematically?

different points of view: first person, third person limited vs. third person omniscient, second person

different styles of narration: stream of consciousness, interior monologue, multiperspectivity, reliable vs. unreliable narrator, biased narrator

Four Types of Point of View

The point of view of the story is the narrator's position describing the events, characters, setting, and conflicts within the prose. The point of view is important to a story in that it filters how everything is understood in the story. There are four points of view in fictional writing:

  1. First person point of view where the narrator uses first person pronouns such as "I" to tell the story. The character is in the story and relating the experiences directly to his or her perspective.

  2. Second person point of view where the story is told to "you" the reader e.g. "You walk to into the room to find him still there. You look around not sure what to do." The narrator addresses "you" as the reader, and the narrative voice implies that the reader is the protagonist in the story and is experiencing the events as they happen.

  3. Third person limited point of view where the story is about "he" or "she" but is limited to one person's experience. The narrator filters only one person's view of the world through the protagonist.

  4. Third person omniscient point of view where the story is about "he" or she" but the narrator has the ability to tell you what all the characters are thinking. In other words, the narrator is "all knowing" to the thoughts and experiences of the characters in the story.

Terms Related to Point of View

  1. Stream of consciousness is a literary style in which the narrator reveals the character's thoughts, feelings, and reactions in a continuous, uninterrupted manner. This point of view is typically in first person point of view. These periods of interrupted thoughts (like a chaotic, disorganized interior monologue in a way) is then followed by objective description or conventional dialogue. Tim O'Brien's autobiographical novel, The Things They Carried, is an example of this type of narration.

  2. Interior monologue is a literary style where the character's thoughts are developed in fully formed sentences as the character is talking to himself/herself.

  3. Multiperspectivity is a literary style where the author has multiple narrators telling the story for the reader. These multiple narrators, which could be divided in parts or chapters alternating between narrators, usually shows opposition or contrast in their story telling in order to illuminate different plot elements in the story.

  4. Reliable narrator vs. unreliable narrator: The way the story is told influences the understanding of the reading. Authors may purposefully have an unreliable narrator in order to throw the reader off such as in a mystery or to develop a clear bias to prove a point in some way, perhaps social commentary of some flaw in society. An unreliable narrator is untrustworthy for some reason and can be intentionally deceptive to hide something or unintentionally misguided because of his or her own flaws. A reliable character is a secure character who may be observing events from an unbiased perspective, retelling a story as he or she witnesses it in a narrative. Reliable narrators have a conventional moral stance and are mature enough to observe events around them without being too engaged in the drama.

  5. A biased narrator is one who sees the world through a filter. Most people are biased to some degree because of the cultural environment in which a person is raised that influences their perception of the world such as cultural norms, values, religion, race, financial status, gender, traditions, or sexuality.

  6. An unbiased narrator is one who is free from prejudice and favoritism and offers an unbiased opinion about what he or she observes. An unbiased narrator is more of a witness to the action in the story as opposed to a participant who is involved and has opinions about what is happening.

Point of View Sentence Stems

  • The first person narration provides a ________ perspective about the character in how he/she ______.

  • The third person limited point of view impacts the reading of the text in that ______.

  • The third person omniscient point of view effectively conveys _____ in order to ______.

  • The use of second person is used in order to _________.

  • The stream of consciousness style of narration impacts the reading of the text in that ______.

  • Having multiple narrators impacts the reader's experience in that ____.

  • The biased narrator influences the understanding of the text in that _____.

  • The unbiased narrator influences the understanding of the text in that _____.

  • The unreliable narrator influences the reader in that _________.

Developing a Narrative Voice

Is there a clear narrative voice? What words convey an attitude or tone of the narrator or a sense of how he or she views the world?

Consider your point of view:

  • First person narrator (in one person’s head where the person can be candid) Writer uses first person pronouns: “I, me, us, we”

  • Second person (the narrator or speaker addresses the reader directly with “you”; reader is involved in the story)

  • Third Person Limited: Author uses “he, she, they,

  • Third Person Omniscient narrator (in everyone’s thoughts, all knowing)

Consider the ROLE of your narrator:

  • Reliable vs unreliable:

    1. Objective narration: seems earnest and reliable

    2. Subjective: seems manipulative, confused, strongly biased, etc.

  • Detached observer: tries to state the situation objectively, not part of the story, seems detached

  • The commentator: narrator gives commentary about life in an amusing or serious way

  • The interviewer: narrator seems to piece together the story after it happens

  • Secret narrator: The narrator acts detached, but then appears in the story in the end as a plot twist

Questions to Consider: What is your point of view? What your narrator’s views on the world? What specific role does your narrator take in telling your story?

Link to check out: http://bekindrewrite.com/2011/09/09/the-7-narrator-types-and-you-thought-there-were-only-two