Monday, June 21, 2010

POINT OF VIEW: 1st Person vs. 3rd Person

Point of view is the vantage point from which the writer tells the story. In a car driving video game, it might be similar to first person being able to see out the front windshield. And third person would be the view where you see the car itself, as well as the view out the front window.

POINT OF VIEW || 1st person vs. 3rd person | the writing craft | when do you use 3rd person | when should writers use 1st person

First Person - "I" or "We"  (Narrator may not be trustworthy.)
Second Person - "You"  (Ex. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie)  Seldom used.  Not a common convention. But more picture books are experimenting with this.
Third Person - "He" or "She" or "They"  MOST often used.
  • 3rd person Limited - told from one character's point of view.  We know only the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of the main character.
  • 3rd person Unlimited/Omniscient - told from multiple characters' viewpoints.  Knows inner life of all.
These two tips are the most important to keep in mind when considering what POV to use for your story:

  1. MOST picture books are told in 3rd person Limited.
  2. First Person is USUALLY told when the character has lots of BIG problems, or if you need to or want to identify most strongly with the main character, especially emotionally.
Keep on keepin' on...


  1. YA books are mostly, but not always, told in first person. There's a connection you get with the mc that you miss with third person. :)

    Great post!

  2. Thanks for sharing your wisdom! I just wrote a pb in first person & love the way it turned out. :)

  3. Yes, Stina that is true. I forgot to mention that. However, most YA books also deal with lots of big issues and need to have a reader connect emotionally. I guess that's why it just makes sense.

    Heather, I'm so glad you love your pb ms. I'm sure, over time, that my pbs will utilize both points of view. Alas, I must write them first. I'm glad you found the post helpful.


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