NARRATING A STORY short or long defines how a story evolves. No two people write the same way. So in a strange way, if every author wrote a book on the same premise, none would be the same.
With that in mind let’s look at narrative POV. Who is telling the story? How many characters? What function do they serve? It can get confusing as soon as you step away from convention, and there are narrative types I wasn’t even aware of until recently as I went through a minor aneursym trying to reconfigure parts of a story having noticed inconsistent POVs.
First Person. Usually the narrator is in the story e.g. “I clambered out of the wreckage…” By placing the reader in the mindset of the protagonist forms a more natural way of taking in the story that reflects real life. First Person is the most involved as we feel every hit, sense everything in the surroundings and are immersed within the characters headspace. That also requires a strong character to carry an entire book.
Second Person (unusual). “You drive down the street and stop at the take-away joint. Opening your window you yell at Denny who’s boxing up a pizza.”
Supposedly very tough to pull of successfully and I can see why. There’s a detachment to the narration, more of being directed towards the end of the story than experiencing it first hand making it hard to feel engaged.
Omniscient (TPO). “He went down the alleyway and never came back…” “She walked through the crowd and they stared at her outlandish clothing…” An easy way to understand TPO is that as narrator you are the God of the story. You know everything that is happening providing a way to easily narrate the story due to the 360 degree viewpoint. You know what every character thinks, why they move and behave the way they do providing my favourite way to link in all storylines.
Multiple (TPM). This allows the reader to follow multiple characters and know their thoughts and feelings, the way you would follow a hero and villain through a murder mystery. You can have a back and forth between multiple characters but they must never know what the other character is thinking. Essentially an expanded First Person POV. “I hated his guts, staring him down.” – “Trevor stared at me with all the hatred in the world.”
Limited (TPL). A scaled down version of TPO. We know the thoughts and feelings of the main protagonist, but their actions and thinking are limited to them and nobody else, meaning all other characters can harbour motives and emotions the protagonist can only guess at. “Do they think I’m a terrible parent?” It makes for good use in thrillers as you are placed in the shoes of a character limited to the knowledge they themselves glean meaning there are lots of deductions to be made. Who can I trust? What makes sense? Of all the suspects, who did it? “Mrs. Marple on the Monopoly board! How?”
P.S. I hope that made sense…