(This post has been cross-posted at Laurie’s blog.)

I’ve been wrestling the POV monster.

I haven’t given up yet.

And I am going to beat it in the end.

Here are a few of the problems.

1.) POV fashion (illustrated with seventies denim)
There are at least nine different POV positions a writer can choose to employ (see blockquote below). These fall in and out of fashion. If you use a POV from a distant time and place you will stand out just as glaringly as if you wore purple, bell bottomed, hip huggers in 2009 (that’s my today).

You will stand out glaringly in both cases even if you are “correct.” Out of style, clean, $400., snazzy jeans are still out. Out of style, perfectly written, mistake-less POV is still out. It will not allow the reader to submerge him or herself into the story (unless the reader is a rare bird who reads Dickens for pleasure – me).

Worse, out of style dirty, cheap, ugly jeans will get you avoided. Out of style POV riddled with mistakes will get you avoided. That is, your story won’t get read.

2.) POV troubles (illustrated with English grammar)
Just as William Safire opened my eyes to the gray of English Grammar, my POV research has opened my eyes to the gray of POV. In English grammar “gray” means that grammarians do not always agree with one another. For example, even though it is logically obvious to person A (me) that it is rare to shut a door “tightly” — and you’d look pretty darn funny doing it, person B can not imagine a door that is shut “tight” — or closed firmly against the frame. Because when comparing the sentences “Shut the door tight” and “Shut the door tightly,” the second sentence sounds more grammatically correct. As in “Walk slow” and “Walk slowly.”

All people who speak play with grammar every day, and as a speaker of English I have my own set of personal preferences. I’d like to choose “Shut the door tight” AND “Walk slowly.” In fact, were I talking only for my own pleasure, those would be MY sentences. However, since I usually talk to communicate with others, I find that it is important to adjust my sentences for optimal communication.

In the same way it is important to adjust POV for optimal reader immersion. (Even if you’d like to write in second person and direct the whole world as though ’twere a stage, you’d better stick with current POV fashion. [2nd person ha ha intended])

3.) POV difficulties
It’s darn hard to write without making POV mistakes. In the same way as it’s darn hard to dress without making a fashion faux pas, and it’s darn hard to speak without making grammatical mistakes.

So – I wish us all good luck and great proof readers.

Below is a blockquote of several POV choices, the most fashionable of which nowadays appears to be a variation on 3rd person limited.

Links appear below the POV list.


This chart is taken from the Writing Gym

First Person Subjective
Narrator inside, other characters outside

First Person Objective
Narrator outside, other characters outside

First Person Collective
Group inside, other characters outside

Second Person
Focus character inside, other characters outside

Third Person Omniscient
All characters inside and outside

Third Person Limited Omniscient
Focus character inside and outside, other characters outside

Third Person Limited Subjective
Focus character inside, other characters outside

Third Person Limited Objective
Focus character outside, other characters outside

Third Person Objective
All characters outside

Here are some informative links:

Odyssey POV podcast

POV fashions

Switching POV scene to scene

Choosing a POV checklist

Good 1st and 2nd persons POV Overview

Good 3rd person POV Overview

Anne Mini on POV

Difference between omniscient POV and “head jumping”

Deep POV

More Deep POV


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