Point of View – Why 3rd (Limited)

Which Point of View method an author decides to use when writing his/her book is often based on what story the author wants to tell and which POV will allow the author to do that in the best way.

For my works, I almost exclusively gravitate toward 3rd Person (Limited); that is: a story told from an outside point of view but where the information conveyed is limited to the knowledge of the target character.

I think that my fondness for this format springs from the fact that I’m very heavily read in 3rd(Limited). David Weber and George RR Martin make heavy use of 3rd(Limited) and I have more books by Weber than any single author.

It isn’t that I find anything wrong with 1st person POV, I’ve just found it very difficult to finish first person novels lately. I have decided to at least try to write a novella or a novel in the first person but for now I think I’ll avoid that.

For The Cerberus Rebellion, I decided to take a page from George RR Martin and use a multiple character approach to the 3rd(L) POV.

I went with this approach because I knew that the story I wanted to tell would need more than one approach. With a single POV story, I tend to run into the problem that the antagonist is one-dimensional. You typically only see that character from the protagonist side of the story

With a multi-pov I’m able to give my antagonist a voice and shown why he does what he does.

I chose the Limited rather than the Omniscient (wherein the author “head-hops” into the mind of various involved characters) because it helps maintain some mystery to the events that are taking place.

I think that many stories would be far less interesting if we were able to read the thoughts of every character involved.

What is your take on pov?

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About Joshua K Johnson

Josh is the author of The Cerberus Rebellion and The Hydra Offensive, Gunpowder Fantasy novels set in the Griffins & Gunpowder universe. He is currently working on a new novel set in the same world as well as The Centaur Incursion, Book 3 in the existing series. He's married with a 5 yr old son and a 1 year old daughter, keeping him busy. He currently works and is a full-time student.

Posted on May 16, 2012, in genre, writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Tales that are told in the first person have an inherent safety net to them, which is that the protagonist can’t die. In real-world fiction this works well, and can in fact make the story seem more compelling and realistic. In science fiction and fantasy, there are much more often grand, sweeping changes that occur throughout the story, and it no longer becomes a tale of one person. Yet, limiting the point of view to the protagonist and a few other central characters, even in the third person, certainly helps maintain the mystery of the story. Having said that, sometimes it can be fun to know what the bad guy is thinking…

  2. What Satis said. If a story is in first person, the character doesn’t die. It’s as much of a walking spoiler as Sean Bean.
    Ahahaha. Spoiler alert ^^
    I also use the GRRM tactic of switching through several characters in my story, although that’s because I wanted to tell two stories, both of them about thirty years apart. Also, there’s something about Fantasy that just doesn’t like First Person. I think it’s because in fantasy there’s a certain amount of ‘stuff’ in the world that needs to be explained… which just isn’t natural in first person.

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