Depending On Your Point of View – Part Two
The previous post examined the different types of character driven points of view (POV). This post will deal with the narrative POV in its simplest terms. Remember narrative POV is independent of the main characters of the novel. He narrates the story but he is not one of the characters.
The two basic types are objective and omniscient.
Objective Point of View
The objective POV is a narrator who tells us only the observable facts of a story– similar to a journalist. It allows the reader to make inferences in regards to the character’s thoughts, feelings and opinions without the benefit of of such things being relayed.
Conclusions are drawn by the reader by what the narrator sees and hears, i.e., mainly dialogue and actions. I recently re-read for the umpteenth time Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. I would put that novel in this category. We never really know what Sam Spade truly thinks, but through observable dialogue, actions and expressions we know he is clever, witty and does not suffer fools gladly.
I would also add the children’s classic, Amazons and Swallows by Arthur Ransome. The story of four children camping out on an uninhabited island all summer is told only using observable facts. We know none of the thoughts and feelings of the four main characters: John, Susan, Titty and Roger.
Omniscient Point of View
Omniscient POV is a narrator who knows all the facts of the story as well as the thoughts, feelings and opinions of the main characters. Writers who have used this method include Leo Tolstoy, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. In Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility, the narrator tells the story of the Dashwood sisters. We are privy mainly to the thoughts and feelings of Elinor but there are glimpses of Marianne’s as well.
As I mentioned previously, I did not have a clue of the difference between POV and voice, but I think if you’re serious about writing, you need to educate yourself on the things you do not know in order to become the best writer you can possibly be.