So, POV is another thing that usually ends up here in Writing 101, so I decided to create a post about the different types, and see what people like to use and when and for what purposes. Also, if I miss anything, feel free to add!
First, there is what grammatical person it is in:
1st Person: I, me, my, mine/ We, us, our, ours, etc.
2nd Person: you – Rare in fiction. Usually only for Choose-Your-Own-Adventure stories, but I found it was used exquisitely for certain passages in The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern.
3rd Person: She, her, He, him, They, them
Then you have tense:
Present: I am / She does, etc.
Past: I was / He did, etc.
And then there is distance, which has to do with what/whose thoughts you know:
Objective/Cinematic: No thoughts. An example is the first chapter of Harry Potter Book 6, the scene with Snape, Narcissa, and Bellatrix. You don’t see any of their thoughts, just their words and actions, only what could have been captured by a video camera. Another example is The Maltese Falcon. Only exists in third person.
Omniscient: Thoughts are provided from multiple characters within the same scene, but organized by an omniscient narrator. The narrator can be invisible (3rd person) or directly comment on the events/thoughts (1st person). I am reading Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov and some of the chapters are in first person omniscient (Follow me, dear reader!). This is hard to do well because if you dip too deep into any one character’s thoughts, it ends up becoming head-hopping which is confusing to readers. So you have to dip in quickly, superficially, and then back out again.
Limited: You only get the thoughts from one POV character per scene. Most fiction these days is in limited because it allows a closer connection between the reader and the character. It allows the reader to feel like they ARE the character. All first person that isn’t omniscient is limited, but third person limited is also common. With third person, you additionally can have direct thoughts in first person (often italicized), which makes it a closer POV than a third person where the thoughts are more indirect:
She hurried to the shop, cursing. I’ll never make it, now!
She hurried to the shop, cursing. She’d never make it now.
So, what POVs do you like to read and write, and when do you choose one over the other? Also, am I missing any? What are some other examples of unusual POV in published novels?