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Point Of View
Transcript of Point Of View
Point of view is the angle of how things are being looked at or considered. It is the perspective of how the story is told. This shows the opinions, feelings and even at times the inner-thoughts of the individuals involved in a situation. It is the mode of narration that an author uses to help the readers “hear” and “see” what is going on in the story.
Point of view is very important to how a story flows, as it shapes the opinion and take on every situation that unfolds in a story. Where one character sees a girl who has lost her way, and tries to help her by giving their input...
...another finds themselves under attack by pressing questions and is bombarded by fear of being hurt again more than they already are.
First Person 'POV' is one of the more common types out of the three and it can be spotted by the narrator using "I", "me", "mine" and "myself" when speaking. Normally in this view the narrator is the main character, however this is not always the case.
There is a sub-category called "First Person Peripheral". This is when the narrator is a supporting character rather than the main character of the story. The same pronouns of "I" and "me" are used however it changes how much the narrator gets to see and know. There are many events that happen to a main character that do not happen to a supporting character.
This means when writing a story from this angle the narrator may be left in the dark about certain aspects of an event, meaning the full story may never be known to the narrator or reader.
Second Person 'POV' is when the narrator uses "you". It is when the narrator is talking to another character, putting the reader into the shoes of the character that is being talked to. It is also possible the narrator is speaking to the reader directly, almost making them into a character themselves.
This 'POV' is the least used of the three as it is very difficult to properly execute. Many readers do not like this point of view as it is telling them what they are doing, seeing and feeling rather than letting them imagine those things themselves. It leaves less room for the imagination and is much more direct and controlling.
The other more commonly used Point of View is known as Third Person. It can be easily spotted by the narrators use of "he", "she", "it", "they" or a direct name.
There are three sub-types of Third Person 'POV'. Third Person Limited, Third Person Multiple and Third Person Omniscient.
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There are three main types of Point of View (or POV). First, Second and Third. Whatever type the writer is using greatly changes how the narrator speaks, acts and communicates what it going on to the reader.
You must keep in mind this is the way the narrator is speaking, not the characters. In First Person 'POV' the narrator is directly a character, however this is not always the case for the other two types of 'POV'.
Third Person Limited
This type of Third Person means that the narrator is limited to only knowing what one specific character knows. In this 'POV' the writer has to choose one character to focus on and then has to either give the narrator view from inside that characters head, or a view from slightly further away, giving just a little more access to information outside the characters viewpoint.
Third Person Multiple
In this type of Third Person the narrator can follow multiple characters, switching between focusing on one character to another at different times in the story.
The problem that can come with this view is having to make sure that the reader knows when you are switching from one character to another and making the transition understandable and easy to follow. Section brakes and new chapters can be helpful, but a writer must be clear about a character switch for this to work.
In this 'POV' the narrator becomes all knowing and all present. The narrator sees, hears, knows, understands and experiences everything. No matter the characters involved, or not involved, the narrator will always know what is going on at any given time in any given place.
The narrator also knows everything about every character and can tell the reader what a character is thinking or feeling at any time. The narrator in this 'POV' is not limited to focusing on one character.
Third Person Omniscient
An example of where a change in character focus didn't go as well as planned would be in the story called "The Things They Carried".
On page 378 of "The Vintage Book Of Contemporary American Short Stories" there is a piece of the short story called "The Things They Carried" which gives an example of how Third Person Multiple can be difficult to follow. The focus changes from Lieutenant Jimmy Cross to a Native American soldier named Kiowa.
While the page break should tip off the reader that there is some kind of change, it's delivery of this change was not fully clear nor easily spotted by the untrained eye. It takes a moment for the reader to realize that the focus of the narrator has switched. This should not be the case when using this type of Third Person.
A good example of First Person would be in the story "Chopin In Winter" starting on page 141 of "The Vintage Book Of Contemporary American Short Stories":
"I wanted to hear more but didn't ask. Perhaps because everyone seemed to be trying to forget. Perhaps because I was afraid. When the tears would start in Mom's eyes I caught myself wanting to glance away as Mrs. Kubiac had." (Page 148)
There are also reliable and unreliable narrators! Watch carefully to learn about them!
In the short story "Chopin In Winter" you can see how point of view really affects how you see a situation. A child is admiring a woman who is now pregnant with someones baby, but the child, the main character, doesn't know the details. They can only gather information from the characters around them, and most of it is jaded due to personal beliefs of each of the other characters.
If the tale were told from the perspective of Marcy we would get a very different story. We would likely learn how she came to be pregnant, possibly who the father is and get to know if she is aware of things people may be saying behind her back, possibly some cruel things that have been said to her face but the current main character doesn't know about. The story would be much different if the perspective was changed from a young child to a more grown up woman.
Tips For Your Future Endeavors
1.) Switch perspectives if you get stuck in a story. A new perspective can help spark new ideas!
2.) Changes in perspective can be just as easy to mix up as changes in tense, be mindful and watchful of accidentally changing your narrators 'POV'.
3.) Be willing to step out of your comfort zone! Try experimenting with a 'POV' you've never used before.
When you do see Second Person 'POV' read closely. The writer took a daring move and has does this with a purpose, so make sure to pay attention.
A small example would be on page 147 to 148 in "Chopin In Winter". The letter from the main characters father used mostly "you", being a slight example of Second Person, even though the last sentence changes 'POV' to First Person.
"When it continues like this without letup you learn what it is to really hate. You begin to hate them as a people and want to punish them all--civilians, women, children, old people--it makes no difference, they're all the same, none of them innocent, and for a while your hate and anger keep you from going crazy with fear. But if you let yourself hate and believe in hate, then no matter what else happens, you've lost. Eve, I love our life together and want to come home to you and Michael, as much as I can, the same man who left."
Point Of View is a very important component, no matter what kind of writing you're doing. It's vital to remember who your narrator is and what kind of perspective they are telling the story. Not just who they are as in what character, if they are a character, but who they are personality wise. This a huge part of the perspective they will have and portray.
Be it multiple people at different times, or one person at all times, the narrator is the voice of the story and the writers tool to control how the reader will be spoken to and guided.
Your narrator is your readers tour guide, make sure you hire the right person for the job.
AS WHO CAN