POV: The Writer’s Lens

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Every writer must make what is often a tough decision when picking up the pen to begin a new story. What point of view to use? In order to start writing the story, one must be chosen. Think about the strengths and weaknesses of each POV and decide what will fit with your story the best.

First Person

This one is, in my opinion, the simplest point of view to tell a story from (though none of them are simple). The first person POV uses the pronouns ‘I,’ ‘my,’ and ‘our.’ It’s how you tell your friends stories about yourself, unless you’re a strange person. Because it is so personal, it can feel more natural than the other POVs.

In first person, the narrator is the main character him or herself.

‘I walked up to the blacksmith and addressed him in my native Elven tongue. He looked at me and pronounced, “Dude, what is wrong with you?”’

Second Person

The second person point of view is by far the least used, and for good reason. To tell a story in the second person can be difficult and abrasive if not done correctly.

The second person speaks directly to the reader using the pronoun ‘you’. You can find many self-help books and manuals written in this POV, but a few fiction writers have been able to pull it off as well.

‘You walk up to the blacksmith and address him in your native Elven tongue. He does not reply to you, for he lives in modern day Milwaukee and thinks you are messing with him.’

Third Person Limited

‘He,’ ‘she,’ and ‘they.’ Third person takes the narrator out of the story more than any other POV and also gives the writer more power over the world she or he is creating.

However, there are different types of third person POVs. The third person limited POV means the narrator can follow and know the thoughts of only one character in the story. Think of this POV like the writer and reader are standing on the shoulder of the protagonist, following him or her as they travel through the world and the plot.

‘”Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!” Thomas said as he peeked over the blacksmith’s shoulder. He could barely contain his excitement, and only did so because he could sense how much the blacksmith wanted to kick him out of the shop.’

Third Person Omniscient

The third person omniscient POV moves the writer from the characters’ shoulders and puts him or her in the sky. The third person omniscient narrator knows all, can see all. It can follow any character it chooses and know what is in the mind of any character. This POV allows the writer the most freedom in the world he or she has created and they have no boundaries but the ones the writers set up for themselves.

‘Thomas sheathed his sword, listening to the satisfying snik as the hilt met the scabbard. ‘Tis a good blade, he thought. The blacksmith, Smith, watched Thomas with disdain. I need a new job, he thought. Meanwhile, in New York, Smith’s agent was about to pick up the phone to call him and tell him he landed a role in the latest Tarantino movie.”


Try telling your story from different perspectives to see which flows the most for you—which tells the story the way you want. Many writers feel comfortable with and mainly stick to one POV, but all are tools the writer can use to tell the best stories they’re capable of penning.

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About Author

John Paul Schmidt is a former news journalist. Now he's a freelancer by day and bartender by night while he works on his novel.

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