Before You Write. . . You Must Choose a Lens

by Cynthia L Simmons

Before you began to write, you must choose which point of view, POV, you will use. That seems like an easy decision yet it’s crucial to the outcome of your work. Point of view tells who speaks to the reader, who is holding the camera. Each perspective has its strengths and weaknesses.
First person uses the pronouns ‘I, me, mine’ for singular and ‘we, us’ for plural. If you want your audience to connect emotionally, this is your best option. Joshua employed this POV when he wrote, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Remember in order to use this POV, you’ll share only what you know rather than the thoughts of others.
The pronoun employed in second person is ‘you’, which is both singular and plural. This POV doesn’t work well for story telling because it tends to have an authoritarian tone. Think about the Ten Commandments: “You shall not murder”.  Recipes use this POV because the author tells what to do: mix the eggs and butter well. You’ll also see it in letters, greeting cards, and poetry and song lyrics: “You are my sunshine…”
Third person uses the pronouns ‘he, she, it, they, we, and us’.  This POV offers many possibilities, but let’s start with omniscient. The narrator in Omniscient POV knows the thoughts and actions of everyone in the room. This POV has drawbacks. First, your audience doesn’t connect to the emotions as quickly. Second, readers can be confused as the narrator jumps in and out of character’s inner thoughts. Writers like Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers used omniscient POV. Here’s an excerpt from The Body in the Library by Christie. “In her sleep, Mrs. Bantry frowned. Something disturbing was penetrating through the dream state.” If one is sleeping, they aren’t conscious of their own thoughts, so the narrator reveals information Mrs. Bantry wouldn’t be aware of until later.
Another form of third person is limited POV, and many authors prefer this one. The POV character can only reveal what he sees and knows. Think about the story of Moses. He found an Egyptian beating a fellow Israelite. After looking around to make sure no one saw him, he killed the Egyptian and hid the body. Later, however, when he stopped two Israelites from fighting, they knew both knew about the Egyptian. Moses had limited knowledge. He thought no one saw, but he was wrong.
Deep POV is another type of third person, and many Christian writers put this POV into action for their novels. This POV can be tricky. The author must sink into the POV character revealing thoughts and emotions. Readers tend to enjoy this POV because they feel dropped into the story even sensing emotions the POV character experiences. To utilize this POV, apply third person pronouns while writing as if you are in first person. Avoid words like ‘saw’ and ‘felt’ so you can describe gut reactions. DiAnn Mills wrote deep POV in this sample from her novel, Breach of Trust: “Paige’s pulse raced into high gear as her foot pressed the accelerator. If the guy thought he’d succeed in making her nervous, he’d better think again. She changed lanes again while watching him in the mirror.” Notice Paige assumed what her pursuer intended, but she didn’t know. You see her heart beat faster in response to what she believed.
In summary, authors have several POVs to choose from. Those who want to write novels can choose first person, third person omniscient, limited, or deep POV. For instructional material, letters or poetry, authors will get the best results from second person. Perfecting your POV polishes your work and makes your readers want more.


Before You Write. . . You Must Choose a Lens by Cynthia L. Simmons (Click to Tweet)

Cynthia L Simmons and her husband, Ray, have five children and reside in Atlanta. She has taught for over thirty years as a homeschool mother and Bible teacher. She’s a columnist for Leading Hearts Magazine and she directs Atlanta Christian Writing Conference. Cyndi has a heart for encouraging women in today’s crazy, upside-down world. She loves history and peppers her speaking and teaching with fascinating vignettes from the past. Her first book, Struggles and Triumphs, was nominated for 2008 Georgia Author of the Year. She co-founded Homeschool Answers and hosts Heart of the Matter Radio. Visit her at
Book Blurb:
With his father dead and his business partner incapacitated, Peter Chandler inherits the leadership of a bank in economic crisis. With only a newly minted college degree and little experience, Peter joins his partner’s daughter, Mary Beth Roper, in a struggle to keep C&R Bank afloat while the Civil War rages around Chattanooga. Political pressure for unsecured loans of gold to the government stirs up trouble as tempers and prices rise. Their problems multiply when Mary Beth discovers counterfeit money with Peter’s forged signature. Can they find the forger before the bank fails? The two friends must pursue gold on behalf of their business, as they learn to pursue their heavenly Father to find hope and peace.