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"Patch of Dirt:" Point of View Diagram

Point of view is the most difficult decision a writer must make before startng to write. Point of view simply put is: Who tells the story from where in the story. The diagram below came from a lecture at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Central Other Character Characters Seen From Person Inside Outside Inside Outside 1st 2nd 3rd

Omniscient X X X X X

Limited X X X X Omniscient

Detached X X X Single X X X X X Character


Single X X XX XX X Character Objective

Multiple X X X X X X Character

Rare XX

What Does the Subjective Mean? First person and third person subjective are both “limited” points of view. While in first person the character may say “I saw, I heard, I felt”, in third person the same character’s thoughts and emotions would be revealed by the pronouns “he” or “she” as in “he saw, he heard, he felt.”

A subjective or limited point of view means that the observations in the story are always limited to what the main character would realistically observe, think, or experience. The viewpoint character cannot know about or comment upon events that occur outside of his normal range of thought and vision.

What Does the Objective Mean? In the objective point of view, the author disappears into a kind of roving sound camera. This camera can go anywhere, but can record only what is seen and heard. It cannot comment, interpret, or enter a character’s mind. With this point of view, the reader is placed in the position of a spectator at a movie or play. He sees what the characters do and hears what they say but can only infer what they think of feel or what they are like. The author is not there to explain. The objective point of view has the most speed and the most action; also, it forces the reader to make their own interpretations.


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