One of the greatest challenges I have when starting a new story, is deciding who is going to be a point-of-view character (POV). It can be l...

One of the greatest challenges I have when starting a new story, is deciding who is going to be a point-of-view character (POV). It can be like chasing after a needle in the haystack. Do I choose the royal? The scientist? The little girl? Or maybe the father? Could I write all of their POVs somehow??

Whose POV you use will dramatically alter not only which story you tell, but how you tell it. Readers tend to bond more strongly to the POV character than any others. The themes you explore, the plot points, how involved your character is in the action, are all altered by the POV.

So how do you decide which character is the best POV for your story? No matter if you plan to have one POV or four, you need to weigh up each one carefully. Before I start writing my first drafts, I usually change my POVs at least twice as my story ideas grow. Here are some of the questions I ask myself to critically consider whether my current POV is the right one:

1) Does this character have a goal? What motivates them? How will their desire or goal drive the story forward?

2) What does this character fear? Will this fear be a stumbling block for them and possibly others, or will it change nothing?

3) How active will this character be? Are they altering events and changing the plot, or will they be a passive by-stander? Are they the observer, or worth being observed?

4) Why do I want this character to be my POV? Do I connect with their personality, their work, their morals, or something else? Do I think that they're in an interesting position?

5) Would my readers enjoy reading about this character? Are they sympathetic, interesting, relatable, or funny? What about this character will keep my reader turning pages and wanting to spend more time with them?

6) Are the stakes high enough for this character to be a POV? If they fail in their goal or don't get what they desire, what will be the impact? Will their failure affect others as well as themselves?

7) What internal journey will this character go on? Will they change, for better or for worse? How will their internal journey change those around them?

8) Will this character's story link to the overall story's plot? Does it add anything, or will it detract from the larger problems and ideas at hand?

9) Is the character's internal or external conflict large enough to merit a POV? Why should they get it, and not the character next to them?

10) How much depth does this character's backstory have? Is their past fleshed out enough, complete with secrets, dreams, and fears, to make them a worthwhile character to follow in the present?

11) What would the story lose if this character wasn't a POV? Would it lose anything, or would it still have the same value? Or would having this character as a POV show a different side of the story and add to other characters' depth?

12) Does the character have a strong enough voice? What about the way they see the world, talk, and think is different to any other character? Will readers be able to easily see the difference between their voice and other POVs'?

13) Would this character be considered the main character? If not, why not? What about them makes them seem less likely to be the focus of the story? Is it the role they play?

14) Does enough happen to this character, or does the character take enough action to be able to create enough scenes for a POV? Or is there only really enough for one or two scenes?

As you can see from all these questions, you need to make every possible POV fight for their place. There has to be a reason why you choose them as a POV, and they need to contribute something to the story that no other character can!

More in the 'Questions to Ask When...' Series
Cities      History      Celebrations      Magic
Characters (Backstory, and Interview)
Schools      Monarchies      Religion (Part 1 and Part 2)     

How do you go about choosing your POVs? Does it come naturally to you, or do you struggle to decide like I do? How many POVs do your stories usually have?
Have a wonderful day!

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  1. These are great questions to ask when you're struggling to choose a POV! And thanks so much for the questions! I'll keep them at hand for future plotting. :)
    I'm thankful that choosing a POV comes naturally to me, but I was actually recently debating about whether or not I should include one of my character's POVs in the story. The character was a big part of the plot, but what made me decide to stick to only one POV, was the fact that some of that character's backstory\life had to remain hidden. And I agree completely with you that the POV can make or break the story! It's crazy how seemingly small decisions can impact the whole plot!

    1. Thanks Lily, I'm so glad that they might be of help to you, it always makes me happy to think that!
      That's great! Ah good thinking, that is very important if that character's backstory is a big reveal, that it's kept secret from the reader. Sounds like you made a good choice. :) It really is crazy!

  2. These are awesome questions! Thanks for all these wonderful posts. I use them all the time for help with my WIP. I always love when my email notifies me that you've done another blog post.

    1. Thanks so much Aristae! I'm so happy that you enjoy this series and find these posts useful. :D You're the best, thank you! Let me know if you have any special requests for new installments in the series!

  3. I love choosing POVs! Nowadays, they usually come to me pretty easily, but that's after several fails at picking the right perspective in my stories. I wish I had this list years ago! It would have saved me some headache!

    1. I'm the same as you Sarah, I usually tend to pick a few of the wrong POVs before finally settling on the ones that feel right! Thank you! <3

  4. Choosing the POV is one of my favorite parts. Sometimes I feel like I pick the wrong one though. Great tips!

    1. It is lots of fun to play around with which POV to choose! Well, if you feel that happens, remember you can always change. :D (Even though it is a lot of work!) Thanks Skye!

  5. Great questions as always! I'll definitely be using these. I'm having a POV crisis with one of my WIPs lol.

    1. Thanks Victoria, glad they're helpful! :D Oh no, I hope you sort it out soon!