Cyndi Lord is a bestselling author, editor-in-chief, and has traditionally published six novels. She has spoken to writers in events across the USA, and teaches writing classes.
Eileen: Thanks, Cyndi for joining us again to continue our study of POV. I’m sure the readers have enjoyed the last posting focusing on the concept of Point of View (POV) and how a writer stays in it.
Today, we’re talking more the nitty-gritty of types of POV. I’d like to explore some of the terminology I’ve encountered while reading about crafting novels using different POV.
First-Person POV—one person
First-Person POV—two different narrators (alternate chapters)
Third-Person POV—one person
Third-Person POV—multiple narrator
Omniscient POV—sees and knows all
Some of these I understand fairly well. Most of the books I read use multiple third-person. Would you like to comment on the list I’ve made? Perhaps give it more clarity?
Cyndi: Sure. First Person is writing from the POV of one person in first person use of I and me. ‘You’re right.” I stared at him hoping for a shocked reply.
Two different narrators is accomplished as first person, one person at a time.
Third person is like a window peeper except the POV is one character and instead of using first person pronouns, you use she said, he said, and report the POV character by name, she/he, or her/him.
Eileen: How do you decide which POV to use in your story? Why favor one character’s POV over another? Are there certain criteria you use to decide whose POV should be used?
Cyndi: I decide to use the character whose story is being told. The POV character, for me, is who is most important to the story. If it is vital to the story to understand the depth of the character of another actor in the scenes, then I switch off to that character’s POV in another chapter. We always say, “you don’t know what another person is really thinking.” Not true. I can make them the POV character and show my readers what they are thinking. An author must be careful with this tactic as not to destroy a good script flip or unpredictable scene by revealing too much of the other character.
Eileen: Please tell us what objective mode (remote POV) and subjective mode (close POV) mean? How and why does a writer use these tools? How are they connected to the above list?
Cyndi: Objective POV is observation like third person. This mode does not allow the reader to identify with the emotions of a character. The removed style leaves the reader to fill in the blanks. This style can be used in stories to create thought provocative works rather than creating three scenes with final having a conclusion.
Subjective mode creates a POV character with all their senses, thoughts, emotions revealed to the reader in a way promoting identifying with the character. Each is connected to the list in multiple ways depending on the author’s ability to maintain consistency.
Eileen: What does close third-person mean?
Cyndi: This means the window peeper reveals only the POV character’s thoughts and feelings, while reporting actions and dialogue only of the other characters.
Eileen: I read lots of books written in third person. Some use one narrator and others use multiple. What advantages are there for a writer when writing third person multiple points of view versus third person with one POV?
Cyndi: I think this is an informative style much like the results of a social experiment or interviews with jurors after the verdict. The style demonstrates how different people see things, think, and feel about the same evidence or issues.
Eileen: If a writer uses multiple third-person POV, when can he shift to another narrator without confusing the reader?
Cyndi: A new character’s POV can be introduced after a clear break symbol in a chapter or chapter. What’s most important is to have an opening sentence allowing the reader to know POV has changed. The senses of the new POV character should be revealed. Something like: a cold breeze raised goosebumps on Mark’s arms.
Eileen: In any of your published stories is the POV any other than the protagonist/s?
Cyndi: Yes. In The Plain Series, and Sandra Derringer Chronicles, book three, I change to other characters’ POV.
Eileen: What does omniscient POV mean? I think that is the most difficult for me to identify. Have you used it?
Cyndi: My kneejerk answer is, ‘omniscient POV means the author has not developed the craft of writing.’ Omniscient writing is easy because the author reveals the thoughts, feelings, and actions of every character. Everything is usually predictable, no twist can happen effectively unless an unknown actor happens by, and the reader cannot identify with the POV character because none exists.
Eileen: Can a writer mix omniscient POV (all knowing entity who knows all the characters) with other points of view?
Cyndi: They can, but what is the point? Omniscient reveals everything about everyone anyway.
Eileen: When a story is told in first person, it is written in the POV of the person telling it. Have you written a story where your POV in first person, and also use POV in third-person for another character? Or is that something a writer shouldn’t do?
Cyndi: I have written in first person, but not mixed third person or third person close in the same novel. I feel this would be confusing to the reader.
Eileen: How does writing in first person change the character of a story?
Cyndi: First person offers all of the POV character to the readers to relate to and get in the head of. Moreover, the reader is transported through the scenes inside the character.
Eileen: How can writing in first person affect the suspense and tension of a story?
Cyndi: The reader feels what the POV character feels—love, trepidation, anger, hurt feelings, happiness, fear, joy, sorrow, anxiety, and relief.
Eileen: Are there limitations to a story when it is told in first person?
Cyndi: Yes. The character cannot know what is going to happen (futuristic writing) and can never know what another character is thinking of feeling.
Eileen: How can writing in first person (the narrator’s point of view) make the story more interesting?
Cyndi: It is more interesting to be in the head and share the emotions of a character than to be told by another.
Eileen: I read about a first-person narrator who is unreliable in what he sees and thinks, maybe not even rooted in a sane world. Have you tried this approach to writing your protagonist?
Cyndi: You may recall Loretta from They Call Me Avenged. Her mental illness made her believe or think she was being kind and obedient to God, while she was incapable of maintaining any level of civility with other people.
Eileen: Do you have any suggestions for our readers about learning POV?
Cyndi: Read the article I wrote for this interview.
Eileen: I really appreciate you joining us today. Readers, if you haven’t had a chance to read Cyndi’s novels, you much. I, particularly, liked the Sandra Derringer Chronicles. They are unique, quick-paced, and sometimes scared me silly! See below the images of the series I’m talking about.
Cyndi: It was a pleasure being here. If the readers have questions, be sure to ask them in the comment section below.