When we read, we need to feel that the people we are reading about are real, so that we can both identify with them, and care about what happens to them.The writer’s job is to make sure that the characters we portray can hold a reader’s interest right from the start.

Usually, you’ll have several characters, but one should stand out – the one you personally identify with the most. If you are writing about a man and a woman who are in disagreement about something, you must decide which of the two you most identify with and then relate the story from his/her viewpoint. Other person plus subsidiary characters will have their own points of view conveyed, but only as seen through the eyes of your main character.


If writing in the first person, nothing can happen unless it is seen or heard by rhis person, or related to him or her.  This narrative has limitations, as the plot must be planned to avoid episodes occurring when the hero/heroine is absent.

In 3rd person narrative, the viewpoint character is “he” or “she”. This is the most popular as it gives more scope. It makes for solidarity, especially in a short story, allowing you to relate the tale with fewer restrictions than when writing in the 1st person.

You can choose an omniscient narrator, maybe an onlooker who tells the story about other people from a distance. For example, a staid old bachelor might describe the torrid love life of his young nephew. The account would be quite different if related by that same nephew. This choice is suited to a leisurely or humorous tale. Novelist Nina Bawden wrote: “You know people better in a novel than in real life because you know what they think, not just what they say they think.”   So when writing, you need to decide which of your characters reveal their true thoughts.

It is important to decide who your viewpoint character is before you write a word. Imagine a story of a middle-aged couple. Their son has been arrested on some charge (a fight, drug possession, drunk driving ….) . The effect of your tale will depend almost entirely on whose point of view you choose.

So, to start. How to select your viewpoint character? First thoroughly know all the characters, even the ‘baddies’.  Care about them. Once you achieve this level of intimacy with them, the selection of a viewpoint character will happen almost automatically … the person you yourself most identify with. You will care about him or her, and have achieved your main objective of making your readers care too, creating a satisfying, enduring story.

Happy writing! I am always pleased to hear your comments and to help you free of charge with any writing problems.  You can purchase my latest novel “Searching for Sarah” or an earlier one “In A Good Pasture” at discount, by contacting me at:  dwaysman@gmail.com


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