When choosing a point of view, three factors should be considered-the author’s personal preference, a good match to the storyline, and marketability.
When beginning a novel or short story, deciding which point of view to write in is an important decision that requires careful thought. A writer must choose a point of view that is comfortable to write in and that fits the events of the story.
Most books are written in either first person, third person limited, or third person omniscient. For a explanation of the main points of view see The Three Points of View in Writing.
A story should be told from the point of view that seems the most natural to a writer.
Choosing a Point of View by Personal Preference
The best point of view for the individual writer will flow from the pen, while another point of view may seem awkward. It is most important to write in a point of view that you feel comfortable with. The right point of view can make writing seem a pleasure instead of a chore.
Don’t be afraid to experiment by writing a page or two in different points of view to see which one seems to flow the easiest. A writer who likes to stick to one character and dig deep into the human psyche may enjoy letting the story unfold in first person. A writer who is happier writing and reading stories with multiple viewpoints may prefer some form of third person.
Point of View: Matching the Story
The point of view should not only please the writer, it should also fit the story that is being told. First person can be very effective when the focus is on the main character’s feelings and emotions. However, first person viewpoint may not be suitable for a novel that has multiple characters because every thought and feeling would then have to be filtered through the eyes of a single character.
Some writers just feel more comfortable making a separation between the character and themselves. Third person limited is similar to first person in that the reader still follows a single character at a time, however the character is referred to as “he” or “she” rather than “I.” As in first person, in third person limited, nothing can be observed that is not within the character’s range of observation.
Third person limited is one of the least complicated and most used points of view. Third person omniscient gives a writer the freedom to make observations outside the limited range of a single character. This point of view works best with a full cast and big story, where it is necessary to track the thoughts and motivations of several different characters. For example, if a group of people were plotting a revolution, multiple points of view would track the thoughts and feelings of each participant on both sides.
Choosing a Marketable Point of View
Unless you are writing experimental or literary works, publishers usually don’t go in for highly unusual points of view such as second person. The point of view should be so natural to the story that it is barely noticed. The majority of popular or mainstream books are written in third person.
Though fewer books are written in first person, this point of view is also acceptable in most genres.
The best point of view is one that harmonizes with the story. It should be comfortable for the writer to work in, unobtrusive to the reader, and generally acceptable to the publisher.