Whose Story Is It?

Does the title ring a bell with you? The one thing that I battle is Point of View! Yes that thing editors watch closely and the trap many authors fall into–POV.


First we must define what POV is. In his book, Story Robert McKee says: Each story is set in a specific time and place, yet scene by scene, as we imagine events, where do we locate ourselves in space to view the action. This is Point of View–the physical angle we take in order to describe the behavior of our characters, their interaction with one another and the environment.”

The simplest way for a writer to ensure they remain consistent is to use a 1st person POV. The reader experiences the action through the eyes of the narrator–usually the protagonist. The problem for me is that I don’t like being restricted and I feel that it is difficult (again, for me) to create viable subplots.

I write in 3rd person. This too can be a problem. It’s my tendency to fall into an omniscient voice; the view of God–all-knowing and all seeing. This is not to say we aren’t God to our characters, after all we created them and put them in the situation and location of our choosing (we even go so far as to give them a family). Regardless, the character must interact with them emotionally, spiritually, and physically. It is our job to show this and the way to do it is through POV.

My Brother’s Keeper

I prefer to use a 3rd person limited POV. Don’t panic (as I did at first), you can shift POV, only the shift should be related to characters and be done between scenes or chapters. For example, George R. R. Martin in his A Game of Thrones series writes each chapter from the perspective of a different character–he goes so far as using the POV character’s name rather than chapter numbers. The key point is regardless of whether you are writing in 1st or 3rd person, in each scene stay inside one character’s head. In her book, Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel, Hallie Ephron writes: “Reading a scene where the point of view slides from one character’s head to another can feel like riding in a car with loose steering. It feels out of control and confusing.” (Sliding POV is my personal bane. I continually find shifts in my first draft.)

In closing, Robert McKee defines the importance of POV in a single paragraph: “The more time spent with a character, the more opportunity to witness his choices. The result is more empathy and emotional involvement between audience and character.” Sounds like a plan to me.


About Vaughn C. Hardacker

Vaughn C. Hardacker has published seven novels and numerous short stories. He is a member of the New England Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, and the International Thriller writers. Three times he has been a finalist in the Maine Literary Awards Crime Fiction category, SNIPER in 2015, THE FISHERMAN in 2016, and WENDIGO for the 2018 award. The second installment of his Ed Traynor series, MY BROTHER'S KEEPER, was released in July 2019 and is available through all major booksellers. A signed copy can be ordered directly from Vaughn (vhardacker@gmail.com). RIPPED OFF is his most recently published crime/thriller, it was released on January 25, 2023 by Encircle Publications. He is a veteran of the U. S. Marines and served in Vietnam. He holds degrees from Northern Maine Technical College, the University of Maine and Southern New Hampshire University. He lives in Stockholm, Maine.
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