Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? – Part V
I hope this one is not too basic but I did want to get it out there before I continued this series of articles.
POV – point of view
There are different POV (point of view) angles you can take within the third person/past tense outline. I’ve seen this sliced up many ways and POV’s titled differently by different teachers, books and institutions. I grouped them down into 3 categories.
Third Person Limited – Many editors prefer stories that are seen through the eyes of only one person, the Main Character (MC). Everything happens in front of his/her eyes and we only learn things through his/her actions and whereabouts. Even though everything is seen from one POV, it is not the same as first person POV. We would still be using the third person format but only following the thoughts, whereabouts, and actions of one person. While this is the preferred style with editors, I will admit that I don‘t always write stories in TPL. It does come in useful for shorter stories and flash fiction – you want to tell the story from one angle so there‘s no confusion. You have to limit your story to one person’s POV.
I mostly write my larger stories in the next style.
Omnipresent View – This is like watching a film, where there are different scenes and the POV (or camera) jumps from one to another and doesn’t adhere to one character only. The problem with this method is, if something happens out of view of the main character – editors will ask you, how does your MC know this information/event when he didn’t see it happen. Don’t assume your character would know something that he hasn’t seen with his own eyes. This is the style I write in most because it mirrors a movie. I will at times change POV within a scene just to relay what the different characters are thinking or feeling. It is important that when you do change a character POV you make it clear to the reader who we are now following – who’s head we are ‘in’ – seeing through their eyes and hearing their thoughts.
Omnipresent Objective Narrator – With this style of writing a narrator is actually telling a story. The narrator, although never actually stepping into the action, tells the story in a chain of events and can skip around between characters. “Jacob Marley was as dead as a doornail….” The Narrator can offer his opinions and choose which scenes, thoughts and feelings are relayed to the reader. The same caution exists as with the omnipresent view style; Don’t assume your MC would know something that he hasn’t seen with his own eyes. It is rare that I write in this format although I’ve seen it done well in many older books. Children’s books often have this approach. The problem with this style is the writer often relies on the narrator to tell everything rather than have the events play out for the reader so they can experience them with their own emotions.
If you are writing in First Person there is only one option that makes sense: First Person Limited. How could your POV be anything different? (past tense only – editors and readers hate stories in present tense).
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
― Anton Chekhov
“All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary—it’s just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.”
– Somerset Maugham
“If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.”
– Edgar Rice Burroughs