Yakkety Yak- Point of View I See You

Yakkety Yak...Let's Chat

I noticed something a little while back and it’s been one of those things that left me curious.  I don’t know entirely what to make of it so I thought I’d put it up for discussion.  It has to do with Point of View.

But first, let’s get to exactly what I’m referring to in this discussion when I say Point of View so we’re all on the same page.  I’m not talking about ‘opinion’ as in everyone has a point of view after they read something, but more ‘position’ like where is the storyteller is looking when he/she/they are telling the story.  In a book, point of view is the narrator’s position in the description of events.

In an online article called Point of View in Writing, Joe Bunting lists four primary book POVs as:

The 4 Types of Point of View

Here are the four primary POV types in fiction:

  • First person point of view. First person is when “I” am telling the story. The character is in the story, relating his or her experiences directly.
  • Second person point of view. The story is told to “you.” This POV is not common in fiction, but it’s still good to know (it is common in nonfiction).
  • Third person point of view, limited. The story is about “he” or “she.” This is the most common point of view in commercial fiction. The narrator is outside of the story and relating the experiences of a character.

Third person point of view, omniscient. The story is still about “he” or “she,” but the narrator has full access to the thoughts and experiences of all characters in the story.

Based on the above list, most of the stories I read are 3rd person, limited and I’m most comfortable with that POV on the story.  However, that said, I’m perfectly alright if the story is  3rd Person Omniscient or 1st person POV because these get me up close and personal with the narrator.  I can actually only remember one book I read that was told in 2nd person.  And frankly, that last one was a hot mess.  Not just because it was 2nd person, but because it flitted around between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Person.

This flitting about is a big no-no both for the reader and in any writing class or book on writing I’ve ever taken or read.  But see, it seems to slowly be emerging as a viable thing.  Not in that hot mess type of thing I just described in the above paragraph because that one flitted through all those POVs for the same narrator.

I’ve read two books lately where the author took a split narration between two narrators and made one 1st Person and the other 3rd Person (in both examples it was the heroine on 1st person and the hero on 3rd Person).  The whole time I was mystified about this choice.  One is obviously more intimate because with 1st person we as readers get inside the narrator’s head and the focus can many times be introspective while 3rd person tends to put a little distance there and focus outside the narrator.

So my discussion is about pondering the ‘WHY’ behind this choice to have the narration alter between characters and between voices.  And also, ask what you think about this and have you encountered it yourself.

My own opinion about it, is that I didn’t mind even if I couldn’t figure out why one would do that.  I only saw maybe one or two reasons.

For me, the why might be because the writer literally wants the heroine to be more central in focus for the reader than the hero.  Or it may also be because the writer wants both as narrators, but feels more comfortable getting inside one mind more than the other.

So, I throw it out to you, Delighted Readers.  What is your opinion on this phenomena of a book offering two different perspectives?  Have you come across it before?  Do you like or not like it?  And, what is your favorite perspective and your least favorite?

Do Tell!

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • I confess that it’s never a thing I think of while reading a book…

    • Yeah, I mostly don’t notice POV, either, but this change from one to the other in the same book was when I noticed.

  • I’m assuming that the book with a first person heroine and third person hero was Silence Fallen. For this book, I think that Briggs stuck with first person for Mercy because that is how all of her books are told. Adam’s POV was third person because she writes her Alpha & Omega series in third person, so it seemed to fit. This is something that didn’t bother me.

    A book that I thought was really interesting with POV is Comfort Food by Kitty Thomas. It is a dark erotic novel (it is not a romance, but some people call it that). It is told mostly in first person, but when the scenes are difficult for the narrator, she switches to third person. She did this because the MC had to shut herself down in order to deal with the events going on. I thought this was a very interesting way to write a story.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Rabid Reads

    • Yep, one was Silence Fallen and the other was a PNR by Tracey Jane Jackson. I usually don’t notice other in passing about POV, but this time it caught me.

      Oh, now that is interesting how the author used the switching POV to convey close or distance when the MC was struggling.

  • I usually do not think of POV either. But when asked I do prefer a first person perspective – gets me “into” the story more.

    • Yes, me too, Velvet. I like when a character I really enjoy is told 1st person POV especially if there is a good sense of humor. 🙂

  • That’s really interesting because I don’t think I actually pay much attention to this.

    • I didn’t either until I encountered two in a row that switched back and forth like that between the characters. Now I watch for it. LOL

  • Interesting topic. I don’t know if I have read a book from the 2nd point of view before. 1st and 3rd work great for me. I think if there is a mix as long as it is seperated out by chapter it could work. I see that you mentioned Silence Fallen in the comments and the switch didn’t bother me with that book at all.

    • I’ve noted people have mentioned a couple 2nd person books that are like the adult version of Choose Your Own Adventure, but other than the oddity I read where it slipped between them all, I’ve not seen one either.

      Yes, I agree, slipping between them works alright when its like an every other chapter thing or at lest clearly delineated breaks.

  • I’ve noticed that before, too, and the ones I’ve read were from female CR writers. To me, it almost felt like an admission – like, hey, I’m not a man, so I can’t do a first person POV for one, but third person POV will work. The first person was the heroine in the story, and I just figured that the author felt more comfortable writing a woman’s first person POV because she is one. I don’t know for sure, this was just a guess for me.

    Great idea for a topic!

    • Yes, that was one of the reasons I was leaning toward, too, Angie.

      Thanks for chatting.

  • I have noticed it before, but I can’t remember which books or which perspectives they were. It seemed like the author was trying to make it feel like we’re in the characters head with one, while being more of an observer with the other. I don’t mind it. I’m actually okay with any type of POV.

    • Yeah, I didn’t either. Maybe it’s something new, but yes you nailed it in how it works on the person reading a story having both POV types.
      I’m pretty flexible about POV, too. Once in a while I think a books should have used a different type, but for the most part, anything goes with me.

      Thanks, Christy!

  • I don’t think I have ever encountered 2nd POV in fiction, but of course the other two a lot. I don’t mind either of them. But this new way that you say is getting popular? I don’t remember encountering it,-yet. Lots of people don’t like 1st person, but I really like it in many cases. Still the third person(either one)is probably my favorite-if I had to choose. Good topic!

    • 2nd person POV is pretty rare- probably in a Choose Your Own Adventure style book more than anything.

      Yeah, not sure how popular this flipping back and forth between limited 3rd POV for one MC and 1st POV for the other one is, but it only caught my attention in the last several months. I kind of like it, but like I say, I’m curious about it.

      Thanks, Lorna!

  • Mostly I read either first or third person point of view. I’ve read a few omniscient ones, which I am okay with as well, although I often feel a bit more distance form the characters in that point of view. My favorite is 1st person point of view, but I also like 3rde person limited. Most of the time I am not even aware of which point of view I am reading, which i how I like it. I don’t think I’ve read 2nd pov often, maybe in nonfiction once? But I can’t really remember.

    Yes I’ve seen that happens a few times as well, where the main character was first person perspective and we got the pov from the bad guy as well, which was in third person. It actually worked really well there. I think it’s important that if an author does that it’s consistent. So
    character A is always 1ste person and person B always third. I am usually okay with it, the books I read that did that it all worked.

    Not sure about the why, maybe to differentiate a bit more between the two point of views. I know sometimes multiple point of views can have the trouble they sound to similar. A difference between 1ste and 3rd does make the difference between point of view more obvious. Great post!

    • Oh, yes, now that you mentioned it, I guess I have seen this for longer than I thought because I’ve read ones where the villain was 3rd Person and the heroine was 1st person, too. And I do agree that it had a good effect.

      And, that is another possible consideration about distinguishing between a larger cast of characters.

      Loved getting your thoughts on the topic. Thanks, Lola!

  • RO

    First things first – you can never go wrong with Shayla Black novels. She was the first erotic novelist I ever read. I normally read 1st or third person pov because those stories don’t confuse me. (lol) In movies, however, I do both of these and add in the omniscient view for a different perspective. Great topic!

    • I’ve read a few and she’s definitely a contender though I must keep the top spot on my list for Roni Loren. 🙂

      It is neat to see that most of us are pretty versatile with POV to get at the good stories. Thanks, Ro!

  • I’ve read a few that switched 1st person for heroine to 3rd person for hero and I really dislike that. It’s jarring every time they switch.

    Other than that I’m neutral on 1st or 3rd (limited). I usually don’t think about it until a friend of mine who hates 1st person asks. And every time I’m like…I don’t know. Let me go look and see. lol It really just doesn’t register to me.

    2nd person I loath. I’ve read one that was 2nd person present and it made my brain hurt so bad because I was constantly trying to switch it into 3rd person. lol

    • It certainly got my attention when they went back and forth between the hero and heroine, but also between the POVs when they did it. I can definitely see that as distracting.

      Yeah, my one bout with 2nd person left a really bad taste in my mouth. I’m not eager to repeat it. LOL

  • I know a lot of people who hated 3rd person POV, but I absolutely love it. Does not bother me a bit. The first POV can be fun, but you are getting emotions from one person. 3rd Person POV, if done correctly can be just as emotional and it can cover a variety of people

    • Yes, I’ve seen that some people feel strongly and prefer one over the other. Personally I like both, but it will also depend on my mood with 1st person if I want to feel closer like that.
      Good point that it does strongly depend on how it’s written.