Point of view or POV seems to be something new writers have never heard of. I'll admit I don't understand how you can just start writing without ever cracking a book or doing a Google search on "how to write" but hey, after reading books like Twilight and 50 Shades of Awful, I can see how people might think you don't need to know shit about writing to write best sellers.
But even those two books followed the rules of POV. Twilight was written in third limited, and 50 Shades in first.
So let's talk about POV, shall we. With helpful examples.
When i started writing, third limited was the POV of choice. It was considered the easiest to write. But what is it, exactly? Third person is how we describe people/characters by their names and pronouns. Charlie, she, he, Rob. In writing, the third person POV comes in two general forms, omniscient and limited.
Omniscient narration is when the narrator voice is all knowing, the thoughts inside every character's head is open to us, the reader. We know that while Julia is sitting in the window seat reading a book, she is thinking about murdering her husband, who is across the room, and we know in the very same scene that her husband is pining for the loss of the intimacy they once shared. It is, in my opinion, the most difficult POV to do well, in a manner that doesn't feel like third limited "head jumping". And, also my opinion, when done well, it has a distancing effect, keeping the reader at arms length from the characters. As a reader who loves to be immersed in the story, third person omniscient done well is still my least favourite to read.
Limited describes a style of third person writing that delves into the point of view of a single character for a scene or chapter. The character is still referred to as She or Maria, but the reader only knows her thoughts, and what she knows in any given scene. So using the example above, from Julia's POV, it might read something like this:
The morning sun was perfect for reading but Julia wasn't focused on the book in her hands. She was thinking about the man across the room, face buried in the morning paper, oblivious to her, as always. It was hard to believe she loved him once, but they did say the line between love and hate was very fine. A rattle of paper told her he'd put it down. "Julia," he said, "it's such a lovely Saturday morning, would you like to do something?"
She thought about ignoring him, pretending she hadn't heard, but that would only make him speak again. She looked up from her book and forced her mouth into a brief smile. "Tomorrow? I'm just finally catching up on my book."
"Of course," he said.
What she wouldn't give to silence that bland acquiescence forever.
The same scene, in the husband's POV might go something like:
She looked so beautiful, the morning sun in her hair as she slowly turned the pages of her book. He missed her, his beloved Julia. Where had they gone wrong? He folded the paper abruptly. "Julia, it's such a lovely morning, would you like to go for a drive?" He could hear the hope in his voice.
But she, evidently did not. She gave him a distracted smile and returned to her reading.
Defeated, he looked down at the table, forcing himself to reply in a neutral tone of voice, "Of course." As if her indifference meant nothing to him.
It is poor writing to just repeat a scene through each POV. It is the writ'er's job to decide which POV is the most effective for a given scene and use it. That often depends on what exactly the plot is. Is it about a woman's journey to homicide? Or is it a story of two people who struggle to find their way back to each other? Or something else again? Which POV supports the plot best?
First person POV is used to tell the story from a single narrative point of view. The writer must pick one character who will be the narrator for the duration of the story. Many detective stories are written this way, Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone stories are written in the first person. The Hunger Games is in first person. Imperfect Memories is in first person.
Second person narration isn't used often The second person is when we refer to one as "you". This is mostly used in Choose Your Own Adventure* stories. It often comes across like it's telling the reader what to think or feel. Do not try to write in second person because you feel it's edgy or unusual without having Pulitzer prize-winning writing skills.
*For a modern take on CYOA stories, see Twine -- a tool for creating interactive fiction.
from The Mechanism, a WIP
The town of Rensler was celebrating its incorporation as a city. Celebration might be too strong a word, Halston thought wryly as he studied the new city from the window of his new office. Neither were new in the sense of fresh made, but both represented new beginnings. He hoped the bright optimism of the newly minted city would drag his life from the depths it had fallen. He rubbed the stubble on his chin. He had no need to examine his appearance to know he looked disreputable. That would have to change. He might be thirty-eight, without income or family connections, but he could still muster a facade of confidence and prosperity.
...which is why editing is so important...
This is what happens when real life gets in the way of creativity!
Cemeteries have always been one of my favourite places to go. I think it's because the dead are so unobtrusive.
As a writer I find a lot of inspiration there, from unusual names (that can seem downright funny sometimes!) to birth and death dates indicating a life cut short too early -- what happened? Was it illness, an accident?
Some names are just funny because they're on a tombstone. Findlater, Guest (uh, no thanks!)
Names can be difficult sometimes, especially surnames, and cemeteries are full of names we, as writers, might not have thought of. Hoar, Beddome, Begg, Darch, Complin, Carradice, Skuse, Humpidge, Baragar, Oiley, Hexter, Stanga, Pepper, Chamberlain, Fountaine, Tamblyn, Aikenhead....
And some make you wonder--when the surname is Sue Tang, why are the first names James and Rosemary? (research online says there are more Sue Tangs in Canada than any other country, but I'm not sure what that means....)
Cemeteries can also give you an idea of the cultural background of a given populace. Woodland Cemetery has stones covered in kanji, and names like Putiks, Bekmanis, Libis, Rudavics, Petrovski.
Given names are also interesting -- Myrtle Alberta (Drake), anyone? She was born in 1916, which says something about names of the time. Or her parents. Or both.
And of course some stones hint at sad, sad stories. "In memory of Margaret, beloved wife of Edward Martyn. Died April 4, 1881 aged 27 years." Right beside a stone for a baby.
And sometimes, amidst all the stories, there is a peaceful reminder that life goes on.