Point of View (POV) had been an issue for me early on. As a young writer, I found myself writing a lot of fiction works in first person. Having kept a diary from an early age (9 to be exact), it was important to me to chronicle every detail of my life with absolute clarity that left no room for my reader to question who was telling the tale. It was easy to be a victim or a martyr or a hero when I was calling the shots in my stories. I could cry as many rivers as I wanted, sacrifice as many scruples as I needed, and save as many underdogs as my heart desired. My writer’s voice was emotional and poignant, yet always childishly direct and overly self-involved. For me, a story was best told from the eyes of the one who experienced it firsthand. But that was the problem. I was telling the whole story all while showing absolutely nothing.
Fast-forward about six years. In high school, I was encouraged to write a lot of observational and objective pieces, which helped to broaden my scope into the world of third person narration. I told stories with a third person limited voice, trying my hand at portraying different main character vantage points. I soon became less emotional and more literal. There was a distance from myself and my main characters which soon grew into a great divide. I began to lean heavily exposition, trying to fill in the gaps that I felt the narrator created.
I yearned to be back inside one character’s head but I didn’t like the idea of being confined there. What if something major happened in Paris and my character was in Chicago? What then? Tack on a few more years and 7 Harry Potter books later. J.K. Rowling blew my mind. She was everywhere yet nowhere. Inside everyone’s thoughts, yet never left a trace. How did she do it?
Third Person Omniscient!
Several things shape a good piece of writing besides POV, but for me it was a major deciding factor in finding my place as an author. While it may come quick for some, others will struggle with discovering what works best for them, like I did. My advice is to try everything first before deciding what best fits you, but above all else, keep your options open. What works today may not work tomorrow. This is something I learned the hard way.