Monday, May 21, 2012

Wisdom from a Writer's Conference: POV

The next class I attending at the LDStoryMakers conferences was:

Mechanics of POV by Clint Johnson

What I learned:

Point of view - including person, tense, character, and narrator - is a tool to be used in telling your story. It is more than just a preference or style. It is part of the mechanics of how the story works. Changing even one aspect of POV changes the whole story.

We as writers need to use the powerful tool of POV and pay closer attention to its selection.

How I Plan to Apply it:

I always use 3rd person, past tense (something that Clint Johnson also prefers). I probably will not change that. But I will be more aware of the strengths of these two tools when I use them. I will also more closely examine the selection of my view point character. And I will explore the use of other persons and tenses if the story warrants it. I was specifically intrigued about the complexity that selecting a narrator separate from the POV character can add to a story and plan to explore that option.

Side Note: I took this class because of all the hype lately about first person and present tense. I wondered if the vibe I was getting about having to use one of these two tools in order to be successful was true. I was relieved that I did not have to change my ways to fit into the current writing world. On further pondering I realized that we should never do something because it is (queue Esme Squallor voice) "in."


  1. Thanks for sharing these insights. POV is definitely a great tool to set the voice and tone of a story.

  2. I attended that same class at Storymakers and loved it! I felt like it was one of the best classes at the entire conference and really got me thinking about POV. First person seems so popular right now especially in YA it seems. Makes me wonder if it is more of a trend or if it's going to stay strong. I like to write in both 3rd person and 1st person and at this point don't have a preference.

  3. Yup, POV is pretty powerful when used correctly. Also, every story works under a certain POV. For instance, I have an MG Fantasy that could only work when written in 3rd person, past tense. But my YA ms is in 1st person, present (it actually started out as 1st person, past, but after many, many rewrites, I realized it wasn't working for the story or the voice of the character. So I changed it).

  4. So much YA is first person present, but I don't really like it. I prefer first person past tense, or third person for certain types of stories, like some historicals set in a regency or victorian era just read better in third, in my opinion.

  5. I've written in both 1st person and 3rd person. I like both, but I always write in past tense. Present tense - I don't like reading it or writing it. It's distracting to me. POV is such a big tool!