How to choose the right POV for your story
POV usually comes to a writer instinctively. As that first paragraph pours out of you, your voice will take shape without much deliberation on which POV to use. Instinct and inspiration aside, it’s a good idea to take a step back and consider whether the POV you’ve gone with is the best way to tell your story. It comes down to two considerations:
Intimacy and connection to the reader
POV determines how close your reader feels to the characters, and how acutely they feel with the characters. Consider:
How close do you want the reader to feel to your MC? How close do you want them to feel to the other characters? If you want the reader to connect intimately with your MC, first person is the natural choice. First person POV puts your reader into the mind of the MC. They feel everything your character feels, and observe the plot subjectively through their eyes.
If the goal is to have readers feel close to all the characters, but you still want to forge a strong connection with your MC, third person limited told through the eyes of your MC is the way to go.
Third person omniscient is the least ‘personal’ POV, and is not the best choice if you want a real, ‘in-their-shoes’ experience for the reader. It’s great for other things though.
Intricacy of the plot
POV determines which aspects of the plot the reader has objective insight into. This means that an intricate plot with many storylines, events, and shifts in time and place will require a wider lens. Third person omniscient is the best choice in such cases.
However, you can still use first person or third person limited to tell a complicated story, if your aim is to deliberately keep the reader in the dark about certain aspects of your plot. If used effectively, this can make for satisfying plot twists and revelations in your story.
Still not sure which POV to choose?
Beginner writers tend to gravitate towards first person, simply because it naturally tightens up the story, regulates the pacing and guarantees an emotional connection – for the writer as well as the reader. Third person limited or omniscient opens up a whole new world of possibilities in your writing, and is best used to weave intricate plots that do not rely on emotional connection.