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Dear Editor: POV or Perspective…What’s the Difference?

—(Originally Appeared in Publishers Weekly)— Writers often use the terms point of view (POV) and perspective interchangeably, which can be confusing.. BookWorks founder and veteran editor, Betty Kelly Sargent, explains the difference in her latest column. Dear Editor: Could you please explain the difference between point of view (POV) and perspective in fiction? — —James… [Read More]

POV vs perspective in writing by Betty Kelly Sargent for BookWorks.com

—(Originally Appeared in Publishers Weekly)—

Writers often use the terms point of view (POV) and perspective interchangeably, which can be confusing.. BookWorks founder and veteran editor, Betty Kelly Sargent, explains the difference in her latest column.

Dear Editor:

Could you please explain the difference between point of view (POV) and perspective in fiction? —

—James K.

Great question!  As I see it, point of view (POV) refers to the format the author has chosen for the narration (who is speaking), whereas perspective refers to the worldview of a character (how she is feeling and thinking). Most novels are written from either a first-person POV or a third-person POV. Writing in the second person (you, yourself) is difficult to pull off in fiction and is usually reserved for cookbooks and instruction manuals.

First Person POV

POV vs perspective in writing by Betty Kelly Sargent for BookWorks.comA first-person narrative can feel especially intimate because the reader knows exactly what the narrator feels and believes. It can be limiting though, because the narrator may have a lopsided take on things and may not be good at characterizing herself.

Third Person POV

Third-person narratives can be 1. Limited— one character’s point of view prevails throughout the story, or 2. Omniscient—there are many characters, and the narrator knows everything about them, past, present, and future. This reduces the narrator’s intimacy with the reader but gives her the freedom to interpret the importance of events, as well as the characters’ reactions to them.

Write From Your Character's Perspective

POV vs perspective in writing by Betty Kelly Sargent for BookWorks.comWhether you choose a first or third-person point of view, getting the perspective of each of your characters down pat is essential. Try to walk their walk and talk their talk. Think Cinderella from the wicked step-sister’s perspective or Othello from Iago’s. We are all the hero of our own story. Getting a firm grip on the perspective of each of your characters can make a big difference in the success of your novel.


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