The Two Elements of Point of View


By Karen Cioffi, Children's Writer

 As the title states, there are two elements to point of view (POV).

1. The first element is who’s telling the story.

From whose viewpoint is the story being related to the reader? Or whose story is it?

With this part of POV, you’re choosing the character who is telling the story.With young children’s books, there should be only one POV: that of the protagonist.

When you’re writing in one character’s POV, it’s essential that you don’t accidentally fall into head-hopping.

Head-hopping suddenly brings another character’s POV into the story within the same scene. It may be the same paragraph or the same chapter.

There’s no lead-in to the POV change, which makes it jarring to the reader. It can cause the reader to pause, making him read the passage a few times to get it straight.

It may seem that sticking to one POV is an easy thing, but it’s actually a very easy slip to make. You can slip into another character’s POV without even realizing it.

An example:

Jason is the POV character. Ralph is his best friend.

Jason couldn’t wait to tell Ralph his good news. He grabbed Ralph by the arm and spun him around.

“Hey,” Ralph yelled. His immediate thought was to have his fist ready.

This sentence brings Ralph’s POV into the scene as his thoughts are being made known to the reader.

To eliminate it:
Jason couldn’t wait to tell Ralph his good news. He grabbed Ralph by the arm and spun him around.

“Hey,” Ralph yelled, his fist ready to fly.

With this little change, you’re keeping the essence of the scene while also keeping it in Jason’s (the POV character) POV.

Another example.
Jason couldn’t stop thinking of the girl he and Ralph met earlier. And neither could Ralph.

When you slip into another character’s internal thoughts, you’re head-hopping.

See how easy it is to do this-just four little words.

A simple fix:
Jason couldn’t stop thinking of the girl he and Ralph met earlier. He knew Ralph couldn’t either.

According to Jerry Jenkins, “I avoid that [head-hopping] by imagining my Point of View or Perspective Character as my camera—I’m limited to writing only what my character “camera” sees, hears, and knows.”

2. The second element is whether the story is told in first, second, or third person.

The second element establishes how the story is told. In other words, is it told in first person, second person, or third person limited?

This is a powerful element of storytelling.

A quick overview:

First-person pronouns: me, I, mine, and my.

The protagonist is telling his story. He’s the narrator.

Examples of this POV are:
–Angry Ninja by Mary Nhin
–Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor
–The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Second-person pronouns: you, your, and yours.

The protagonist is the narrator and talks directly to the reader.

Examples of this POV are:
–How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan
-Train Your Angry Dragon By Steve Herman
–The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone

Third-person limited pronouns: he, she, they, it.

A narrator is telling the story through the protagonist’s perspective in the case of young children’s books.

The narrator is inside the protagonist’s thoughts, senses, and feelings.

According to MasterClass, it ”can give readers a deeper experience of character and scene, and is the most common way to use point of view.”

Examples of this POV:
Walking Through Walls by Karen Cioffi
–The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
–The Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel

I hope this helps you get a better handle on point of view.

This article was first published at: 





Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, ghostwriter, editor, rewriter, and coach with clients worldwide. If you need help with your story, click HERE.

Karen also provides:

A guided self-study course and mentoring program.

A DIY book to help you write your own children’s book.

Self-publishing help for children’s authors.


Nina said...

Excellent! I will pass this on to some writer friends, especially those who are writing children's books.
Thank you. Nina

Karen Cioffi said...

Thanks so much, Nina! All shares are welcome!

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