Who is the narrator? Through whose perspective is the reader viewing the story?

First Person

This is the most intimate Point Of View (POV). The reader views the action directly through a character’s eyes, but not necessarily the main character. An example of this is in the Sherlock Holmes stories—the narrator was Dr. Watson, but the main character was Sherlock Holmes himself.

Your reader only knows as much as the POV character does, so be careful not to insert knowledge that the character couldn’t know. For example, don’t use the thoughts of another character, or something that happened in another room, unless someone tells the POV character about it.

First Person POV uses “my” and “I.” For example, “I knew from the moment his mouth opened that something was wrong with my brother.”

Second Person

This POV can sound like instructions and is often used in technical writing. It uses “you.” For example, “You open the door and walk into an empty room. You look around for any signs of life, but there is only dust.”

Second Person is more immediate; it puts your reader directly into the story, as a character. This can be good for suspense, action, tension, but it is very difficult to pull off successfully. The Choose Your Own Adventure series of children’s books is a good example.

Third Person

This is the most commonly used POV, and the most flexible. The narrator is not a character in the story, but an uninvolved observer. This POV is categorized along two axes: Subjective/Objective and Omniscient/Limited.


Also called Third Person Limited, Subjective goes inside the character’s head (thoughts, feelings, opinions). The narrator knows everything that one character knows, including their thoughts, feelings, and opinions, but is limited to only knowledge available to that character.


Objective stays with external facts. The narrator knows everything the characters know, but does not get inside the characters’ heads. This is the “fly on the wall” perspective.


An omniscient narrator knows everything, about every character, setting, action, etc. The narrator has all of the knowledge available to all of the characters about time, places, people, events, and all of their thoughts with no limitations. This is the most impersonal POV.


A limited narrator may know everything about one character, including thoughts, feelings, and opinions, but is limited to that one character’s knowledge.

Exercise 1

Write a short scene between two characters in First Person POV (about 200-500 words). Then rewrite it in Third Person. If you’re feeling up to a challenge, rewrite it again in Second Person.

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