Points of View (or POVs) are important to figure out before you really begin writing your story. Rewriting from a different point of view is a pain in the ass and a waste of time, especially in larger segments. Trying out different POV’s, however, is a good way to get a feel for your story and the characters as well. This is when character sketches are helpful. This way you can try out, for a single scene, what the world would look like from that character’s eyes. So what points of view are there?
First Person is when you say “I did this; I thought that.” Basically your novel will turn into a big I statement. For some purposes this is the best option—getting inside the head of the main character and having the reader privy to the character’s thoughts and feelings brings the audience closer to your story, as long as you can maintain that connectivity with thoughts and emotions that the reader would also have to similar situations. One downside to this is there would be no overlap with other characters’ emotions or thoughts. Your main character could assume or believe that another is feeling a certain way, but in reality that character could have any number of thoughts or emotions running through them that your main character knows nothing about. Therefore, this point of view is rather limiting, but it does offer the closer relationship with the main character.
Second Person: “You see this; you do that.” Most often times this point of view is not used in stories. This is either because it doesn’t work with many types of characters, but there are some notable media types in which it does hold water. “Peep Show”, for instance, is a tv series where it is implied by camera angles and the way characters interact with the viewer, that you are actually a character in this story. If one were to otherwise use this POV, the story telling might seem awkward or out of place. It certainly is a difficult point of view to grasp, having the audience be a character in your story. This would suppose that the author knows what the reader or watcher is thinking, feeling, etc. If the writer doesn’t get this correct, then it breaks the immersion and thus the illusion, and so the story doesn’t necessarily go on for that audience member.
The art of writing Third Person is one that many people prefer. Third Person is designated by “He said; she did.” While this POV doesn’t necessarily give insight into characters’ thoughts or feelings, it makes it easy to tell the story, being from an outside perspective. The writer, and thus the audience would have to realize that this means that during the story they would only be able to suppose what the characters deeper motivations might be, but this may just be the point of view you need to get the ball rolling. Just because a lot of story tellers use this doesn’t mean that it’s too cliche. Sometimes the easier route is the best to take, as it conveys the set of circumstances the best.
There are Omniscient POVs as well, which are also widely utilized. These are also termed as God points of view, as the author is telling the story usually from a third person perspective but with the added ability to know the characters’ motives, feelings, etc. This does give more depth and prospective connectivity between characters and the audience, acting like a sort of middle ground between third person and first person. As there are more characters with this depth, there are more chances to rein in viewers. This is a popular point of view, and one I use myself.
Figuring out which of these commonly used points of view to use for your story can make or break it for your audience. You need to have the ability to connect, draw in and keep your readers for the duration of your novel. I do recommend trying each of the POVs in order to ascertain which of them is best used in the long run for your plot and characters. Every novel is different, don’t be afraid to step outside the box, but always keep in mind what it could do to your fan base.