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?