Showing posts with label point of view. Show all posts
Showing posts with label point of view. Show all posts

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.

Five Ways to Annoy an Editor

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at

The wonderful thing is that you can annoy an editor at any and all points throughout the publishing process. This allows you to get your own back for all the odd comments sprinkled on every page of your great works from kindergarten onwards. After all, your inbox is full of emails insisting you can make a fortune with your writing in a weekend. Who needs an editor anyway?

Well, if you want to be traditionally published, an editor comes with the package deal. So let's get off on the most annoying foot from the start.


1) Resist reading the publishers' instructions for sending in submissions. Send in a hefty paper manuscript with all pages stapled together when the instructions ask for email only.

   Choose a jolly font -- something unusual like Bauhaus 93 or all caps like Algerian. Ignore the boring fonts  like Times New Roman which are so often requested by publishers. Word will happily suggest something it considers better if you run out of ideas.

    You'll get more words on the page if you use single spacing and keep the font tiny --try 8 pt.
    And  better not reread your manuscript before sending it off. After all, you want your editor to have lots to do. 

Remember the Rules

2) Follow every typewriting rule you can remember. Sadly we no longer need two spaces before every new sentence. With computers, one space throughout is all that's necessary. Your editor can sort that one out fairly easily but hitting the space bar to create paragraph indents or using tabs does mean tedious days of  extra formatting.

    Life is hard enough with the latest version of Word happily saving every copy of your work in a single file and creating huge files which need to  be reduced to manageable size.

3) Ignore all rules regarding point of view. After all if you know who's speaking what's the problem? 

The problem is that readers like identifying with a particular character or characters in a story. This is difficult if they can't have an in depth involvement. If characters are batting thoughts and feelings about like ping pong balls, it may be exhilarating but it is more likely to lead to confusion than empathy.

However, it's your book. 

Find the right agent

4} Choose an agent who supports your beliefs and ignores requests for blurbs and synopses, sends in an unread manuscript on parenting to a house specializing in Romantic Fiction. Yes, we can see there is a connection there somewhere but publishers and their editors are apt to concentrate on fact or fiction, or at least have different imprints for each.

What's an Editor For, Anyway?

5} And the final definite No-no. Your editor is not there to write your book. Your editor is there to help you polish your book, make it shine. If you have problems with spelling and grammar, at least do your best to check the manuscript through with Word's tools if nothing else. Read your manuscript out loud--that's a good way to find missing words.

Any more thoughts on annoying editors, or even on annoying editors? Let us know in the comments below :-)

Anne Duguid
Anne Duguid Knol

A local and national journalist in the U.K., Anne Knol is now a fiction editor for award-winning American and Canadian publishers. As a new author, she shares writing tips and insights at Author Support : .

Her Halloween novella, ShriekWeek is published by The Wild Rose Press as e-book and in print  included in the Hauntings in the Garden anthology. (Volume Two)

Her column on writing a cozy mystery appears  in The Working Writer's Club .

Multiple Points of View: Good or Bad?

POV (Point of View), is an topic that could fill whole blogs.  My question today is this:  What do you think of multiple POVs in a novel?  I'm not talking about head-hopping (seeing into multiple characters' heads in the same scene, jumping from one to the other as convenient).  I'm talking about telling one chapter or scene from one character's POV and then using a different character's POV for the next chapter/scene.

In my YA fantasy novel, Far-Knowing, I divide each chapter into 2-4 clearly marked sections which alternate between two characters' POVs (with a third making a few appearances).  The two main POV characters are two young apprentice mages, both young women, but with different backgrounds, skills, aims, and opinions about the world.  And they don't particularly like each other.  I loved writing the story from both points of view because it showed how the world is more gray than black and white, and that two people can interpret the same event completely differently. 

I've read quite a few books told from multiple points of view, including one of my favorite YA fantasy trilogies, Hilari Bell's Farsala, and a little one you may have heard of:  Game of Thrones.  

It's interesting to me, however, how divisive the style is.  Look at a couple of reviews of Far-Knowing:

"I normally don’t like stories that switch a lot from one point of view to another, and back again. There have been rare cases where I did end up liking them, in spite of multiple POVs --- but this book is the first time I remember finishing a book and thinking that the multiple points-of-view not only failed to detract from the story, but also made the story better. From the perspective of someone like me who is biased against that practice, this is quite a testament to Melinda Brasher’s skill as a writer. It’s terrific."
-from a 5-star Amazon review

"But for me this book had a major problem, and this was the manner in which it jumped from one character's point of view to another character's point of view. Many times, just as I was getting into the story, the point of view changed, and I had to reestablish the context. Some readers don't mind this kind of style, so I think many readers will enjoy this book more than I did."
-from an otherwise positive 3-star Amazon review

And these:

"The characters were well developed and you really got to see into Kalli and Ista's minds. I do however think that the POV switches came too frequently. I would've preferred the format to be different, but it wasn't too distracting."
-from a 3.5-star review

"I absolutely loved the changing perspective of different points of view of individual characters. Things aren’t exactly as they seem to be. Very true."
-from a 5-star Amazon review

Out of curiosity, I just looked at reviews of Game of Thrones that mention point of view (8 POV characters, by the way), and most say that it adds so much depth, that we really get to know all the POV characters, that it brings the story to life, that it shows how even the bad guys can justify their actions and aren't all bad.  Several mention that they thought it would be confusing or unnecessary with so many POVs, but that it worked.  Several say it WAS confusing at bits but it was worth it.  A few have warnings that the multiple POVs may put off readers looking for a simple tidy read.  

So, what do you think?  Have you ever written anything in this style?  Do you have any examples of books you love (or don't love) told like this?  When you read one, do you find yourself hurrying through one or more POVs to get to your favorite character?  I'd love to hear in the comments.

And to see for yourself what you think of the POVs in Far-Knowing, Farsala (Fall of a Kingdom), or Game of Thrones, click the links below.

Far-Knowing, by Melinda Brasher
Fall of a Kingdom (Farsala #1) by Hilari Bell
Game of Thrones by Geroge R.R. Martin

Melinda Brasher loves casual hiking, taking photos of nature, playing in the shallow little river that runs through her Czech town, and hanging out at home writing.  Her short fantasy story, "Chaos Rises" is now FREE on Amazon (and everywhere else).  Her microfiction (38 words) recently won honorable mention in On the Premises' Mini Contest #25.  Read "Dusk" for free here.  Or visit her online at

On Point of View, Political Correctness, and Creativity

Guestpost from Carolyn Howard-Johnnson

Many of you know that in my other writing life, I take up serious themes like discrimination so I’m especially sensitive to it when I see in the publishing world.

Not long ago, my writing friend Leora Krygier was asked by a reporter for the Orange County Register if she felt qualified to write from the point of view of a young Vietnamese girl in her book When She Sleeps. Having once been in journalism and been in a position to do some interviewing of my own, I was a bit incensed. It seemed amazing to me that someone would presume to tell a writer they couldn't or shouldn't write from any point of view they so choose  or suggest that doing so would cause resentment. How could a reader (or a reporter) possibly presume we couldn't write from the point of view of someone of a different race, a different religion or culture. And why would they tinge that question with a hint-of-haughty in the voice, a bit of a look-down-the-nose demeanor.

My daughter, a cultural anthropologist, suggested that such ideas were a function of our intensity to be as politically correct as possible and The Register did have a large Vietnamese population, which was probably one reason they were doing the interview in the first place. Because I believe that being politically incorrect in most instances, simply promulgates bigotry, I tried to put all my arguments—arguments in favor of creative writers—aside and forget about it.

Then I ran into another instance of this kind of question in Time magazine. There is was in my face again:

Belinda Luscombe put on her snarkiest interview hat to interview Pulitzer-prize winning novelist Michael Chabon. It went something like this: "A central character in your book Telegraph Avenue, Arcy Stallings, is the black co-owner of a record store. Did you feel anxious writing from the point of view of a black guy?" In addition to the haughty and snooty tendencies listed above, her question smacks a bit of the passive aggressive.

I admit it. That got me a little riled. But the interviewer persisted: "But race is a charged subject. In the book, there's a white lawyer, Moby, who talks like a black guy. Didn't you worry that that was you?"

Then I went on a full scale rant, albeit a quiet one to myself. Exc-u-u-se me! But don't writers of fiction always use something of themselves when drawing a character? None of us can pull any character trait that we haven't personally seen, experienced, or read about from thin air! I sniffed! But it doesn't have to be us.

And doesn't fiction work—especially great fiction—because at our cores we are all the same? Sentient human beings who share needs and feelings? When I suffer under one kind of prejudice, as an example, isn't that at some level very similar to what someone else suffers under another? So wouldn't that qualify white-girl me to write from the point of anyone I so chose—if I took care. If I had a worthy subject and theme. And isn't that the job of the artist to decide?

And, (I actually huffed! Almost aloud!), haven't these reporters ever heard of research? Or imagination?

And what about that idea of getting too close to something, so close that we may feel responsible or fear we're putting our souls in danger? Or that someone might mistake sincerity for satire? Of vice versa? Wouldn't any thoughtful person understand that every time an author picks up a pen he or she puts herself in some kind of emotional (philosophical?) danger? And don't readers understand the difference between fiction and reality? Do they really think that every character in our books is us rather than seeing that every character may be us, but may also be a reflection of someone we've observed? Or read about? Or devised by mixing traits of many people we've met?

And this is the answer I came up with.

Apparently not.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson occasionally contributes to AuthorsOntheMove. She is the author of award-winning books This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a series of chapbooks of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

Tips on Point of View

You have completed your manuscript and now is the time for you to edit and rewrite. One of the things you should look at is your point of view. Did you choose the right perspective from which to tell your story? And is it consistent? Here are a few guidelines.

First of all, point of view refers to who is telling the story. Generally three points of view are used. First person - where the "I" voice is used and it is a character who is telling the story. This provides a level of intimacy, a closeness to the story teller.  Omniscient - which is where the author is telling the story and generally provides a more distant perspective. And third person - which is almost a mix of the two, where you can tell the story from several different perspectives and move easily from one character's head to another. 

Tips for editing POV:

1. Determine how much intimacy you want to create between the reader and your characters.

2. After deciding the level of closeness you want, check to see if the point of view you chose also allows you to easily tell the story in the way you want.

3. If you have chosen first person, is your character someone readers will want to spend time with? Are they likable, but flawed? Not annoyingly perfect.

4. If you chose to write in third person, review each scene and determine who's head you will be showing the scene through and make sure you are consistent in only sharing with the reader those things that particular character would know.

5. When using third person, check each passage and determine how soon you clue the reader into who's head they are in. You may want to make sure readers can quickly identify who's perspective they've stepped into. 

6. To continue to create consistency in your POV, look to ensure when you are writing from a particular character's perspective you are using the words, terms and emotions that are most likely to be used by your character. 


D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, House of Glass, Book 2 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.  

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at

You can also follower her at or on Facebook

Your Children's Story and the Message

  By Karen Cioffi, Children's Writer I get a lot of clients who want to tell children something through a book. These people want to sen...