Tuesday, September 05, 2006

From Whose Point of View?

In writing (fiction especially), the writer has to determine how best to tell the story. More to the point, the point-of-view (POV): first person, second person, third person, third person limited, or omniscient. The most popular points-of-view are: first person, third person, and omniscient.

First person uses the word “I” for the narrative character’s tag causing the story to feel more personable. A tag represents who is speaking. “Come here,” I said. “I” is when the focus is all about me (or the me character).

Third person uses he, she, they, it, or the characters’ names and is less intimate. “Are you interested in going with me?” she asked. “Not really,” he said. With third person, readers know what each character is doing, but we’re limited by knowing only what the characters in that particular scene can see. With scene changes, focusing on a different character can create a shift in who the leading character is at that time. First and third person point-of-view can be tricky since the character must have access to what’s being done or said or be told by someone who has/had knowledge of the event.

The omniscient point-of-view means the story is being told from an all-knowing standpoint. This is referred to as the God point-of-view. Omniscient is all-seeing, all-knowing, everywhere, all at the same time. Whenever a story is written from this point-of-view, characters can be in different places, yet whatever any of them is doing is known and can be written about (even their private thoughts). The omniscient point-of-view knows all and can legally as well as technically document this knowledge in the story.

So it is with God: God is omniscient. He sees everything each of us is doing, yes, even at the same time. He knows every one of our thoughts, even as we think simultaneously. There is no scene change rule in play, because God is omniscient.

First person is more intimate but limited since the character can only speak from the knowledge he/she knows. The focus is all about that character and how that character sees and perceives something (right or wrong as we all have our special filters that aren’t always correct in our assessments).

Second person is using the word “you” which is not a popular point-of-view in the writing world, but it’s definitely used in real life. “You hurt my feelings.” “You don’t treat me right.” Granted, this is not a true example of how a person writing in second person would use the word “you” as a tag in second person. It would be more like, “Come here,” you said. But you didn’t; you merely walked away. However, the point I’d like you to see here is how in real life, we love to use the word “you” to place the blame or focus attention on others for whatever might be happening or not (usually, it’s the bad things happening) in our lives.

Third person frees the writer to be able to show more of what’s going on but is less personable than first person. That’s why we have what is called third person limited. Third person limited allows the character to be like a first person character telling the story from their point-of-view intimately, then switching back to true third person mode when desired. It permits other characters to also become like a first person character.

The omniscient point-of-view does not solely regard one individual. Omniscient sees the whole picture although the information may not always be revealed or revealed immediately. Omniscient sees all and knows the thoughts and feelings of each character.

God sees each of us and knows our thoughts and feelings. He views the whole picture, not just our microscopic, first-person part. He knows everything, and He knows what is best for us in the entire scheme of things.

In life, we must learn to not write our story only from the first person (I) point-of-view, but to allow the Omniscient (who sees all and knows all) to direct us in the way we should go. Many of us get upset when things don’t work out the way we’d prefer them to, but I have learned to trust the Author and the Finisher of my faith; to allow Him to complete the work He has begun in me.

So stop getting upset when things don’t seem to be working your way, especially when you know without a doubt that your life story is in the hands of the One who was before Genesis and will be here well after Revelation; the One who is penning the rest of my, and I pray your, first-person, unwritten story.

So the next time you believe you’re losing, and I really don’t mean to spoil the ending of the story for you, but I flipped to the end—and guess what? You win! You are more than a conqueror. So be of good cheer, Jesus has overcome the world.

Are you saved?

Then regardless of what point-of-view might be in play—first, second, third, limited third—in The End you win.

Not saved yet?

Well, you can change your present ending right this minute (which has been promised to be quite hot and not in a good way either) by believing in your heart Jesus is the Son of God, confessing your sins, and accepting Jesus as your personal Savior.

From any point-of-view, Jesus paid the price, and in the end, you win!

Copyright © 2006 Vanessa Davis Griggs

Vanessa Davis Griggs is a speaker and the author of four published novels: Destiny Unlimited, The Rose of Jericho, Promises Beyond Jordan, and Wings of Grace. For more information or to visit her Web site, go to: www.VanessaDavisGriggs.com. E-mail: Vanessa@VanessaDavisGriggs.com


At 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Praise God,

This post is very thought provoking, from the standpoint of an aspiring writer and a person of faith. I appreciate the way you have made an analogy between the creation of fiction and the divine measure God has implemented in the lives of his servants.

I have not yet read any of your books, but I am curious to know what POV you prefer to write in and why.


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