Welcome back! I'm continuing my series about writing steampunk fiction. There are so many components in a story, including the main point of view. I'm specifically talking about the narration you'll see throughout a novel or short story. Typically, authors write steampunk fiction in first person or third person point of views. This is usually the case in any type of fiction. So, this post might also be useful for those of you who want to write something outside of steampunk or science fiction. I'll explain the difference between the two narrations and hopefully, it will help you decide which point of view works best for your writing style.
First person narrative is becoming a very popular point of view. It seems to be very common in a lot of contemporary fiction, including steampunk. First person tells the st0ry through the narration of a particular character. Sometimes the protagonist is the narrator. Other times, a supporting character is the storyteller. Usually, first person involves someone who will side with the book's heroes. It's very unusual for the narrator to be an antagonistic character. First person will show the opinions and biases of the narrator. Let's say the protagonist is the narrator in a particular story. He/she will explain the cause or conflict in a way that is meaningful to him/her. The narrator will often describe supporting characters as close friends, love interests, family members, new acquaintances, etc. He/she will probably direct a lot of fondness toward these characters. Villains will most likely appear evil, corrupt, power hungry, and such. Occasionally, the narrator will be somewhat sympathetic to the main villain, especially if the antagonist has a few redeeming qualities. The narrator will also explain his/her beliefs, insecurities, ideals, pet peeves, and more. Sometimes we see a different version of the protagonist if the point of view is told through a supporting character. He/she might describe the protagonist as an idealistic hero. On the flip side, our hero might seem like a selfish antihero. Even the action and scenery will go through the eyes of the narrator. The reader will see everything how the narrator perceives it. You might also see humor, sarcasm, angst, and other emotional components through the narrator's point of view. First person has a lot of biases because the point of view only filters through one character.
Third person point of view is a lot different than first person. It tends to be an anonymous narrator who doesn't participate in the action. You can think of it as a fly on the wall. Third person narrators are not part of the actual story. The reader should notice a specific voice through the third person narrative, but it will devoid of a character's identity. For example, you probably won't know if the narrator is a man or woman. Many books include third person narrative and it tends to have a less biased perspective. Granted, the results are usually the same. Ultimately, we wind up with heroes and villains. That's basically what you'll see from both first person and third person point of views. It's not unusual for third person to focus more on the world building. A lot of third person narrations describe vast landscapes, cities, battlegrounds, technology, etc. This is especially common in fantasy driven genres like steampunk. I believe third person is usually more objective than first person because the narrator isn't wrapped up in an individual person's emotions or ideals. Technically, there are two types of third person perspectives. Third person limited is the standard version. This point of view has very limited access to the characters' thoughts and ideas. If anything, you might see some thoughts from the protagonist. A less common point of view is third person omniscient, which shows the views of many characters in the story. The omniscient version gives the readers multiple points of view.
Personally, third person is my favorite narrative because it works really well for large ensembles. A third person narrator can showcase a variety of characters without limiting their perspective to one individual. For a long time, most literature was written in third person. Lately, I'm seeing more first person stories, possibly because the writer can bring out a lot of personality and thoughts in the manuscript. First person point of view is often an entertaining read if the narrator has a sense of humor or decent personality. If you're an aspiring writer, pick one point of view and stick with it. Don't begin the story with first person and switch to third person at a later point. I've actually seen it in literature and the situation just looks weird and awkward.
Second person is also an option, but I don't recommend it. Basically, second person has a narrator who places the reader as the protagonist. They're saying you're the one who's interacting with the other characters and moving the plot along. I've only seen it in the choose your own adventure books. Flip to page 20 for this action or page 50 for something else. That's how it works.
That's my crash course in literary point of view. Leave a comment if you want to say anything. I'm going leave a couple links and references if you want to learn more about this topic. Good luck with your writing and I promise to write another cool post next week. Have a good night!
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