Your Point of View in Writing
The issue of how to deal with point of view in writing presents
problems for many new writers. However, the principle is simple to
Here's a mental exercise for you:
You are you. You know who you are and you know what you think. Fine so
Imagine you walk into a room. There's someone else there. You can see
her: what she looks like, whether she's nice or nasty looking. You can
hear her talking. You can smell her perfume. There are all sorts of
things you might describe about her.
But what is the one thing you cannot do?
Easy. You cannot know what she is
You cannot know what motivates her unless she tells you. You cannot
know anything about her background unless she shares it with you. Got
Now, when you're writing, the character who's telling the story is the
same: a person with limited, or nonexistent, psychic abilities.
Therefore, your point of view character CANNOT KNOW what is inside the
head of any other
New writers often make the mistake of telling a story from one
character's point of view and then, because they want to be thorough,
or explain things, they start describing other character's motivations
and back story - all things the point-of-view character cannot know.
Only God knows what everyone is thinking. And you, the author, is not
God. You are a mere writer who must
write via a point of view character
Authorial omniscience tends to throw the reader out of the fictive
More simply, one character knowing what's in another character's head
feels wrong to the reader and the reader therefore stops believing the
This is because omniscience implies there's an author
telling the story, instead
of a character. And, as I've said many times before: the author has no place in a story.
Once readers get a whiff of the author, they lose interest in the story
because the fiction is no longer believable.
The fact is, nobody wants to know
what an author thinks.
This may be a hard concept to grasp but ultimately your writing is not you.
It is a reflection of you, yes, but through a lens, in the same way
that an actor is not a person but rather the character he or she is
playing. Do you see the difference?
Your writing is not YOU.
Your written pieces are artificial constructs designed to inform,
entertain or to challenge.
But the work you create will always be separate from you, the person.
Bearing this counter-intuitive fact in mind should actually make your
writing easier. It certainly helps when it comes to editing. Because
when you lose your personal attachment to your work, you become more
able to see whether the words are working effectively. You begin to see
your writing through the eyes of others, which can only make you better.
One of the other essential things to remember is that when you're
writing, you're NOT creating sacred texts.
Not everything you write will be usable or publishable.
Indeed, around 80% of your writing output will probably never see the
light of day.
Even the most successful authors have vast reserves of writing that
will always remain unseen, hidden away, not for public consumption.
Much of a writer’s output will be average, disposable, words on
pages, the writer filling in time, experimenting with different writing
forms or with attempts at developing certain ideas and/or themes. Lots
of writing that really has no place outside of the author's computer or
But this is good news because it takes the pressure off.
It means that at any one time the likelihood of the thing you're
writing RIGHT NOW will be in that 80% is fairly high, almost guaranteed
Most successful writers will have at least one million words written
that will always remain hidden from the world before and after they get
published. This is as it should be.
Writers whose every word is genius is a myth. Having everything you
write published is never going to happen - and you wouldn't want that
anyway. And just like being a carpenter, nobody gets to see all the
chairs you've ever constructed, only the good ones get you rich, famous
Really, it's okay to dump entire novels. It's okay to write several
drafts of a book, a short story or an article. It's okay to work for
months on a screenplay that never gets off the ground. That's what
being a working writer is about.
Because here is the true secret behind being a successful writer:
Not being motivated by what writing can bring, but being entirely happy
with the writing process itself.
You should write purely for the love of writing. Period.