How to Pick A Point of View

I’ve been wrestling with a new picture book story that I want to write. I’ve got nothing on paper, yet. It’s just bubbling in the back of my mind. The story elements are all there, plot, structure, information, character options. What I can’t wrap my mind around is the point of view.

WHO is going to tell this story?

Here are some questions to brainstorm your options:

  1. What is your story tense? Is it happening “in the now”? Or does it span more time than one character can cover (not everyone lives as long as Yoda)?
  2. How many characters do you have so far? Are you gravitating to one in particular? Is there tension that can be heightened by multiple points of view?
  3. Have you thought about a point of view that is NOT a character? Something less traditional like time, dust, trees?
  4. Do you need a non-character narrator like Lemony Snicket does in The Series of Unfortunate Events?

Make a list of all your point of view options. If you still don’t have a clear choice try these options to narrow down your focus:

  1. Make a pros and cons list for each.
  2. Consider how that point of view will change your tense between past, present, and omniscient.
  3. If it’s a character, consider how it may limit the scenes you can write. For example, you can’t give the reader information that isn’t available to the point of view character. This may limit or increase your tension.
  4. Write out a mini scene from different points of view to get a feel for how each would play out.
  5. Think about your character’s lens. Your words, choices, and goals will be different based on each character. How would that effect your plot?
  6. How can format help your point of view? Using letters, texts, or flashbacks can help overcome some obstacles.

I’m still struggling with my point of view for my latest project. I’ve got several versions written and it’s going to be a non-traditional point of view because my story spans over a century’s worth of time. I can’t stick it out with one character unless I incorporate a diary format (which I’m considering).

The goal is to think outside the box as you formulate your writing plans. This will save you time and energy in the revising phase. I’ve tried to rewrite a story into a new point of view in the past, believe me you don’t want to do it. It’s a royal pain.

Were you able to consider new points of view with this exercise? What did you decide on? I think I’m going to go with the point of view of the pine trees. If you’re wondering how I’m going to pull that off, so am I… I’ll let you know when I get it on paper.

Happy Questing!

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