How do I know what POV to use?

This may seem like a realllly obvious answer to some of you, but for me, it’s something I’m struggling with a lot lately.

I finished a book about two months ago that was written in 3rd pov and it was the first time I ever used the POV. To be completely honest, before using that POV for that book, I hated it. I don’t even like reading 3rd pov. But as I was exploring the POV I realized I actually really love it. I’m a detailed orientated writer and 3rd POV gives me a lot of freedom/opportunities to put in a lot of details that I couldn’t find writing in 1st POV.

Now, 2 months later, I am finally branching off to other projects. But the problem is I’ve fallen in love with 3rd pov. I find myself always reverting back to it! I’m even considering rewriting the first seven chapters of the book I’m currently working on to be in 3rd pov… is this bad?

I really really really want to write this book in 3rd pov lol. Someone talk me out of it.

(Though it wouldn’t be that hard if I do decide to use 3rd pov since I have to rewrite the first seven chapters anyway…)

Do authors usually tend to write in one POV and stick with it across the board for all of their different projects? Do you think readers enjoy 1st or 3rd POV more? I’m giving myself a headache…

Use the POV that works for your story. If that’s 3rd, go for it. Personally I dislike 1st but I’ve had some stories demand to be told that way. So if you want to write in 3rd, no reason not to.

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You don’t have to write in the same POV for every book. Personally, I write 3rd person preferentially, but when I want a strong entertaining voice with lots of emotional content, I write 1st person. So, 4 of my novels are all 3rd person, but my novellas and my latest novel are in the first person.

If you feel you would write this specific book better in the 3rd, write in the third! If you at any moment want to go back to the first… go! Both are wonderful.

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I try to keep an even mix in my books, but I prefer writing in 1st person, specifically a diary format, because it gives an insight into the character’s head

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THIS! This is what I’m feeling, I think.

My book is in the paranormal genre and I think it would benefit the story more if I wrote it in third and explored the story more. Whereas I have books with heavier topics that I wouldn’t even dream writing in any other POV than 1st because I need the reader to connect to the narration and understand my character’s pain, you know?

You just gave me so much peace of mind :sob:. I’m always so afraid of sticking too heavily to a POV or a genre because I don’t want to be seen as a writer who only does 3rd POV or a writer who only writes romance or historical fiction or teen fiction. I want to explore everything I am capable of. I love writing 3rd(now lol) but I don’t want to be seen as someone who only writes in that POV and it makes a lot of sense to decide the pov based on how heavy of a topic your book discusses.

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I also experiment with genres and style. While I understand it might cost me reads, I love all my books and I don’t regret writing any one of them. I did have comments a couple of times suggesting that another POV could have been beneficial, but I felt that losing the character voice would have killed that particular book.

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  1. I tend to write in 3rd person but sometimes I like writing in 1st person. For instance when I am writing 3rd person books I usually write the dreams in 1st person.
  2. For me, I like 3rd person more as a reader, because I get to ‘see’ everything at least a little bit more correctly than if in 1st person.
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I find 3rd and 1st tend to be more common in different genres. Romance, drama, etc. tend to be written in 1st because they’re about character development first and foremost. High/Epic fantasy, sci-fi, etc tend to be more commonly written in 3rd because they have a greater degree of world-building and tend to be more plot than character driven.

While many authors do tend to stick to one POV or another, I also know some that swap. Tamora Pierce was one of my favourite authors when I was growing up and wrote exclusively in 3rd person. Her newer books are written in 1st. Jonathan Stroud uses both in his Bartimaeus Sequence as well.

I myself usually write in 3rd (because I gravitate towards high fantasy-type stories), but my current project is written in 1st (as a personal challenge to myself).

Just write how you want to write it, lol

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying out something new. If you like it go for it.

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It always depends on how I hear the story being told. Mostly I write 3rd, but I can write 1st. Personally, I don’t like first, but some stories are better told that way.

If you find it easier to write in third, then do it. I personally blended first and third in one story, changed it to first, now I’m changing it back to third because screw first. Just write whatever way is easiest for you.

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Write the POV you’re more comfortable with! I write in 3rd POV - and generally only read in 3rd POV.

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This is how my current project was in its original form. I made myself rewrite it all in first because I didn’t want to lose the MC’s voice :joy: It’s very different to what I’m used to.

Be me and use all three POV.

Just use whatever’s easier and really sounds good for the story.

Figuring out which POV to use can be a headache, but it’s a lot easier when you narrow down your wants and needs.

Here’s a few questions to ask yourself before you choose:

  1. How many perspectives do you want to use?

It’s true that you can use as many as you wish (within reason) for first person and as many as you want for third person, but when it comes to the execution and the intrigue readers like and are looking for, it kind of narrows down as you look for who is telling the story.

When you write first person, it’s always best to just focus on a single character. They have to be the one who the story is about, who the story follows, and there should be a reason as to why we’re following their story and no one else’s. Two characters for first person should be the maximum, but even then, it really depends on why we need to follow that extra person.

Third person comes with multiple choices because—in the basic sense—you have omniscient where the narrator is in everyone’s head at once, so you don’t have to choose who to follow, and you also have limited where it’s just like first person, but with different pronouns. In third limited, you can have multiple point of views, and because you’re using other pronouns than “I,” it’s easier to follow along.

Choosing how many characters the story follows does help you determine which one you choose because if you’re following one character, you have the freedom to choose third limited or first person. If you’re following more than one character, you may want to choose third person (omniscient or limited).

  1. What tense do you want to use?

Tense doesn’t always help you choose which to go for, but it can help in some aspects. For example, if you want to use present tense, first person is best suited with it. This is just because third person can sometimes look weird if it isn’t written well enough because some writers can make it look choppy. But if you want to use past tense, then you have the freedom to choose whichever you like because past tense looks good with either or.

  1. Which are you most interested with writing: external or internal details?

The question is needed because if you want to write more internal details, then go with first person. First person is really good for those books where the story is mostly about the feelings of the main character, whether it’s their internal conflict, their emotions, or whatnot. Now, third person limited does act as a first person narrative, but it is distant for the reader. With first person, the reader can feel as though they are the character. Third person, no matter what, can feel as though the reader is watching a movie; we’re following a camera and an inner commentary.

However, if you’re interested in focusing on external details (such as the scenery and whatnot), then third person is the best way to go because this perspective is known for being truly descriptive.

  1. What genre is your story in?

This one also narrows down your search, but it’s more of that, “Can it be a ‘rule’ I break?” This is because certain genres comes with its own standard based on the complexity of the plot and world building. For example, science fictions, fantasies, historical fictions… these are usually in third person. Contemporaries, romance… these tend to be in first person.

However, just because it’s a standard, doesn’t mean it’s a “rule.” You can break it, but it heavily determines on… why? For instance, two of my previous novels have broken the standard. The first one is a romance, focusing on a single character, used in past tense. I used third person (instead of first person), because I focused more on the external details rather than the internal details. It’s romance, yes. And with romance, you should focus on their thoughts and emotions… which I did because it’s told in third person limited. However, the character was going to a place she had never been for the first time, so I thought using a lot of descriptions would be a little too much for first person. So instead, I chose third.

The second book is a murder mystery, focusing on a single character, used in past tense. But I used first person (instead of third person) because I focused more on the internal details because the character was more emotionally driven. Mystery and thrillers are usually in third person because of the external details the most, but the story focuses the most on emotion and how it can drive people to do certain things. So instead, I chose first.

  1. What is your preference?

Last, but not least, it then all comes down to you and how you see your book. If, after this entire time, you still don’t know which to choose, then focus on what you want. If you really want to write it in third person, then do it. What’s stopping you? Why don’t you? Why second guess it?

It depends on the writer because it comes down to preference. Some writers choose to write one perspective across the board because that’s what they’re comfortable with; others choose not to because they see different perspectives with different stories. Personally, I write whatever feels best for the story because I don’t have a preference. I read in both, I like both, so… it sometimes came hard to me because I was like, “Which do I choose?” But I came across various reasons why you should choose it based on the criteria I’ve said above and it helped me choose on easily on both.

For example, the current novel I’m writing is a sci-fi fantasy. It focuses on a single character, written in past tense… and I decided to write in third person. At first, when I tried writing it nearly four years ago, I wrote it in first person because I wanted it to be different. But it was way too complex because it honestly didn’t need to be told in his internal voice. So, when I began rewriting it… four years later, I chose to stick with the standard because it flowed better.

At the end of the day, it comes down to what you see the most for your own stories. It’s not a choice you have to decide based on what others want, but what you want.

Neither. Readers, like us writers, are prone to what they prefer the most. Many like first person, many like third person, and many like both. You will find people who hate third person and people who hate first person, but it’s not always about the perspective. I’ve come across a lot of people who hate first person, but not because they don’t like how it’s told, but because the writer doesn’t execute it well enough. For example, they’ll say something like, “I hate when it’s all about ‘I do this, I do that…’” Honestly, third person can do this, too. I’ve seen it. All you have to do is change the pronouns. The problem is not with the perspective, but the writer.

At the end of the day, it comes down to how you write and who you market the story to. If you write one hell of a story, people won’t care what perspective it uses because most won’t even notice. To give two examples:

I once met someone on here who complained about first person (and present tense) and how it’s not a popular choice, I had mentioned that the Hunger Games became a very popular trilogy with a first person, present tense base, and they were shocked because they had loved it and never even noticed.

And, secondly, I personally don’t like third person and present tense together because a lot of writers who have tried it, don’t execute it well enough. But then I read Unwind by Neal Shusterman which is, spoiler alert, written in third person, present tense. And guess what? It flows so smoothly that you don’t even notice it.

So… why does this happen? Because when you become stuck in the story, you get lost in it and don’t realize the things that you don’t even like.


I’ll also link down below of videos that are worth watching on the topic!

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Thanks for your well thought out reply! I’ll have to take a better look at it in the morning with fresh eyes.

I’m also glad to know I’m not the only person on WP who enjoys watching authortube! Jenna and Alexa are two of my favorites.

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That’s how I was originally too, but then I realized their voice would be much stronger if I wrote it in third.

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I tend to write first for my YA fantasy / romance because it just…feels more personal, and I feel like I can spend more time in my character’s head. For other genres and anything with multiple POVs, I’ll go with 3rd.

It kind of just depends on what I think will work best for the story.

Definitely don’t let reader preference dictate what POV you write. People who refuse to read a book simply for its POV are missing out on some amazing works of art…

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I usually write in third but am experimenting with first at the moment. I find it’s lending itself to my dystopian/scifi world better.

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I can’t write 1st person at all (it just sounds awful), so by default I go for 3rd person limited :sweat_smile: I also use internal thoughts where I feel it’s necessary to get a stronger insight into the character.

Also I tend to write multi-POV books, which feels best suited to 3rd.

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You don’t. You don’t KNOW what POV to use. It feels different for everyone, and people can write many books using many different POVs.
Basically, what you do, is write in a whole heap of different POVs, figure out which you like, and don’t be scared to use other types. If you start writing the book in one POV and like it, then don’t worry about it. Just write it in that POV. Don’t doubt yourself - whatever you feel comfortable with, is the right thing. :blush:
You can do it! :grin:

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