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Narrative Voice In Fiction: Part 1, The Basics Of POV (Point Of View)


Narrative Voice: Part 1, The Basics
POV (Point Of View)

“The author’s persona of a fictional narrative can help or hinder the success of the story. Which persona you adopt depends on what kind of story you are trying to tell and what kind of emotional atmosphere works best for the story.
“The persona develops from the personality and attitude of the narrator, which are expressed by the narrator’s choice of words and incidents. These in turn depend on the Point Of View of the story.”
“If the narrator is just the author telling a story in the third person, the persona is less clearly defined; it may be a lot like the author himself or herself, or very different. But the persona will still tell readers what’s happening in the story and what kind of attitude they should adopt toward events. For example, the persona may describe a death and make us feel outraged, or horrified, or amused.”¹

Point Of Views (POV):¹

Example sentence:
I walked to the store.

First person Point Of View is usually subjective: readers learn the narrator’s thoughts, feelings, and reactions to events.

Unreliable Narrator:
Willfully obtuse or is plain lying or at least giving only half-truths. The reader then must spot the inconsistencies in the story.
First Person Objective:
The narrator tells only what the characters said and did, without comment, and leaves it up to readers to imagine exactly what they’re feeling.
Observer Narrator:
Is a narrator outside the main story.
Detached Autobiography:
Is a narrator looking back on past events, with the benefit of hindsight.
Multiple Narrators:
Are First Person accounts by several characters.
Interior Monologue:
An interior monologue is one in which the narrator recounts the story as a memory, i.e. a stream of consciousness.
Dramatic Monologue:
The narrator tells the story out loud without interruption.
Letter/Diary Narrative:
The narrator writes down the events as they happen.

Example sentence:
You walked to the store.

Rarely ever used in short stories and novels; mostly this POV is relegated to poetry, prose and song lyricism.

Example sentence:
He/she/they walked to the store.

The story is told about the character, not from the character’s account of the story.

Third Person Limited:
Persona depends upon a single character who eyes witness the story.
Third Person Objective:
Readers have no entry to anyone’s thoughts or feelings. The author describes, without emotion nor editorializing what the characters say and do.
Third Person Omniscient:
“All-Knowing” the author tells the story from all perspectives, in this author’s persona the story can develop in any way of several directions.
Episodically Limited:
Whoever the Point Of View is for a particular scene determines the persona.
Occasional Interrupter:
The author steps in from time to time to supply the necessary information but otherwise stays in the background.
Editorial Commentator:
This narrator persona has a distinct attitude toward the story’s characters and events then frequently comments on them.

Hazards Of Using Persona:¹

One problem is when the author’s editorial rhetoric tries to evoke an emotional response that the story’s events cannot evoke by themselves.
Another issue is when the author’s persona seems more important that the story itself, and the author keeps reminding us of his/her presence through stylistic flamboyance, quirks of diction, or right editorializing about the characters and events of the story.
This issue happens when the persona’s excessive objectivity trivializes the events of the story, suggesting that the characters problems not be taken seriously.

Verb Tense:¹

“Verb tense can also affect the narrative style of the story. Most stories use the past tense.”
“Be careful to write consistently in one verb tense unless your narrator is a person who might switch tenses.”


¹Kilian,  Crawford. Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy. Bellingham, WA: Self-Counsel Press, 2007. Book.


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