Point of View of a Short Story


 

 

Contents

Third Person Point-of-view
Omniscient
Objective
Central Intelligence

First Person Point of view
Interior Monologue
Dramatic Dialogue

Second Person Point of view

 





When we talk of the point of view of a short story, we are simply saying, “How do I tell this story?” There are several ways of doing this:

  • Third Person point-of-view: You, as the author, tells the story.
  • First Person point-of-view: You can let one of your characters narrate the story.
  • Second Person point-of-view: You involve the reader in the action i.e. make the reader one of the characters

Note: We are discussing these in the order of popularity,not numerically; so don't mind what might seem like awkward numbering.

Let us now discuss these point-of-views in greater detail.

  1. Third Person Point-of-view

    This point of view of a short story can be of three types:

    Omniscient

    The word omniscient is derived from Latin and consists of two parts: Omni- which simply means “all” or “everywhere” and scire which means “to know”. This word is often used to refer to God’s ability to know everything, even that which is hidden from humans.

    If you use this point of view of a short story, you take that elevated position of knowing everything. Therefore, when you tell the story, you even grant the reader access to the characters’ thoughts and other things that the characters cannot discern. You are not limited by your characters’ inabilities or lack of discernment.

    Objective

    To be objective means to be unbiased and unaffected by personal thoughts or opinions. Thus, in this point of view of a short story, the writer presents facts and events as they happen and does not concentrate on a character’s thoughts or opinions. In “Girl Power”, LJ Kundananji posses as a purely objective observer and does not give the reader any access to the characters’ thoughts. He just reports what he sees and hears. In fact, he does not even give his own thoughts nor opinions. Is it not true that as you read this story, you can easily be lead to imagine that LJ is seated in one corner of the room reporting everything that he sees?

    Central Intelligence

    The story is told from the view of one character i.e. the main character. We see the setting through his eyes. We see and note the characters in the manner that he sees them. We feel his fears and anxieties. Indeed, we have full access to his thoughts, emotions and imaginations.

    This is the most natural point of view of a short story and you’d find yourself using it without thinking much of it. But it has it’s disadvantages. It is biased and we are limited to the character’s perceptions, and it may become quite difficult to create that logic. For instance, in Nose Betty , the story concludes with a vivid description of how Chanda sees Nose Betty:



    Chanda was speechless, too mersmerised by her beauty. He stared at her in awe. She was just the way he remembered her. Her thick black hair extended all the way to her shoulders. Her eyes were perfectly white. Her pert nose was devoid of pimples. Her smile was so pretty it took his breath away. She wore a short sleeved T-shirt that exposed her gorgeous arms. Her flared skirt that extended to her calves flattered elegantly in the gentle breeze. Her flat tight brown shoes made her feet and legs look pretty in a peculiar manner.



    The question which keeps ringing in the reader’s mind is: did Betty really look that way? Not so easy to answer if you are limited to Chanda’s perception! But the writer does show that there is indeed a difference between the way Chanda used to see Nose Betty and the way he sees her now. Get as creative as you can to fill in those awkward gaps in the logic!

  2. First Person Point-of-view

    Here is where you let one of the character’s tell a story. There are two types:

    Interior Monologue

    You as the author, concentrates on the character’s thoughts… As the name suggest, the character speaks all to herself. The story occurs all in her mind.

    A bit lame, huh? Hey, try it before you reach conclusions! How about writing a story in which the character makes entries in her diary? You can show how she views people around her and in her life; for example, her schoolmates, her teacher, her friends and her family. You can reveal her warped up views of the world. Now, is that not exciting?

    Dramatic Dialogue

    In this point of view of a short story, the character speaks to others. This is the most common type of first person point-of-view of a short story. It usually results in a simple style. Check out the opening paragraphs of Lost Dream as an example:



    She was everything that I ever dreamt of—everything. And there she was, smiling sweetly at me, right in front of my face.

    “Luis,” she said in a saccharine voice. “What is it that you have to tell me?”

    I bit my lower lip in pain. I opened my mouth but no sound came out. I just gapped at her speechlessly. My eyes flooded with tears and I felt a lump in my throat. I shook my head.

    “I can’t do it,” I said in my heart. “I can’t do this.”

    Now, what will happen if we rewrite them in Omniscient Third Person?



    she was everything that he dreamt of—everything. She smiled sweetly at him, staring into his face with bulging eyes.

    “Luis,” she said in a saccharine voice. “What is it that you have to tell me?”

    He bit his lower lip in pain. He opened his mouth but no sound came out. Instead he just gapped at her speechlessly. His eyes flooded with tears, and he felt a lump in his throat. He shook his head.

    “I can’t do it,” he thought. “I can’t do this.”



    Which one sounds better? Which one has more spank?

  3. Second Person Point-of-view

    You are standing at the crowded corner of the street, waiting for your young brother to show up. You look at your watch. He is ten minutes late! If he does not show up, you will be late and will find all the movie tickets sold out. Suddenly, you feel a pat on your shoulder. Your blood rushes with excitement and you quickly turn around. But your heart misses a beat, and you nearly jump out of your skin when you lay your eyes upon your father. His face is reeking of annoyance…

    Ha! I almost caught you there, didn’t I? The passage above is an example of second point-of-view. Not very common this, but it does sure make you feel part of the action!

    We have had quite a comprehensive view of the angles from which a story can be told i.e. the point-of-view of a short story

    Your job now is to experiment with all these views and see which one works well for you and is more fun! Don’t limit yourself to one though. Try to use all of them. Each story is different and has a different purpose. Carefully select the point of view that will help you achieve your purpose.

 

Return from Point of view of a short story to Writing Short Stories




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