Is it perspective or point of view?

Driving into town one day last summer I saw the pale moon hanging low on the horizon. I had to check the calendar later to learn it was a “waxing half moon”.

MoonSet

Then, after midnight on Christmas Eve, while returning home from a late candlelight service at our church I saw the half moon again. This time, however, it was a bright “waning half moon”.

XmasEveMoon

I’ve never studied astronomy… never thought much about waxing or waning. But I was curious enough to Google for lunar information. I learned that what I saw from my location in the northern hemisphere is not the same as a person viewing it from the southern hemisphere, but the opposite…

“Assuming that the viewer is in the northern hemisphere, the right portion of the Moon is the part that is always growing (i.e., if the right side is dark, the Moon is growing darker; if the right side is lit, the Moon is growing lighter). In the southern hemisphere the Moon is observed from a perspective inverted to that of the northern hemisphere, so the opposite sides appear to grow (wax) and shrink (wane).” [Wikipedia]

A friend’s recent Facebook post bemoaned the lack of doors in her home where previous occupants had knocked out walls to create an open floor plan. (Yes, this really does have something to do with the previous paragraphs.) She likes smaller rooms and likes being able to close off certain rooms. In the comments someone else said, “Love our open floor plan! It’s great for family gatherings and entertaining.”

It really IS all in the perspective, isn’t it?

For a time when I first began writing fiction, I thought perspective and point of view were the same thing. Eventually I learned that perspective depends on which character will tell the story, while point of view depends on how it will be told. That’s where First Person, Second Person, Third Person (Limited) and Third Person (Omniscient) points of view come into play. There are advantages and disadvantages to each but since this isn’t meant to be an in-depth lesson on POV, I won’t go into them.

On New Year’s Day I finally finished the rewrite/revision of my current work in progress. Although I’ve changed many things during my revision, point of view (POV) wasn’t one of them. A previous novel went through three POV changes before I was satisfied. What a headache that was! It taught me to make the choice before starting future manuscripts.

 ~

Writers, when and how do you decide what POV you’ll use? And readers, does the choice of POV affect your enjoyment of a story?

Super Moon

~  ~  ~

7 thoughts on “Is it perspective or point of view?

  1. elderfox says:

    Hi, I haven’t thought about the difference, going along in my merry way, but me-thinks I need to return to basics again! A ?, Can one change viewpoints within a chapter, or is it done with a space break or new chapter or is such a change to confusing for reader?

    • Carol says:

      I’m told changing viewpoints should *normally* only be done in a separate chapter, but successful writers break rules all the time. The main thing is to make the change obvious… confusing the reader is never a good thing.

  2. So far, I’ve used Third Person (Limited) for all my novels. Someday, I’d like to give First Person a try, but it’s a challenge to make it work.

  3. Ah, yes, the tricky POV question. I have struggled mightily in my own writing with decisions what to use. I tend not to write in First Person POV because I find it difficult to have the character talk about her/himself, finding it self-indulgent and contrived, especially when in scenes where she is in danger of losing her life or some such thing (the reader KNOWS she is going to survive because she tells the story!) But that may well be due to my shortage of skill as well as the genre of the book. So I tend to lean towards FP Limited POV. As for reading, it all depends on the quality of the book and how well the author handles it. I have enjoyed both FP and TP POV equally. One thing that does irritate me though is a changing POV in the same chapter, or scene. Some authors do it well, like Elizabeth George, but I prefer to have only one POV in a chapter.
    Congratulations on finishing your rewrite! Way to go for starting the new year.

  4. Shari Green says:

    I am familiar with this changing-the-point-of-view revision headache you mention… :p Definitely a good plan to have it sorted out before you get very far into a first draft, but sometimes I do have to play with it for a while — try a chapter or two in a certain POV before I know whether or not it’s right for the story.

    As a reader, I’m not especially fond of second person — it’s relatively uncommon for a reason, methinks. But other than that, POV choice doesn’t affect my enjoyment as long as whatever’s chosen is done well! (And “Amen!” to not confusing the reader!)

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