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What are the benefits of different narrative points-of-view in fiction?

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forwardprogress | Student, College Sophomore | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted September 30, 2011 at 5:14 AM via web

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What are the benefits of different narrative points-of-view in fiction?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 30, 2011 at 6:21 AM (Answer #1)

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You can choose to write a story using first person narration or various forms of third person limited or omniscient narrative viewpoints. Second person is coimmon in how-to  and other forms of magazine writing but rare in fiction; Robbe-Grillet's Topology of a Phantom City is one of te few novels to use it consistently.

First-person present-tense writing is often favoured by new writers, and has become a hallmark of a certain style of "creative writing workshop" studenty writing. In one way, it is the easiest type of narration, as you do not need to manage viewpoint -- you move linearly through time and space seeing everything through the eyes of a single character. It can be clumsy, though, because whenever you need to introduce information, you must manuveur your character to experience it or pick it up through dialogue.

In third person, you can shift your viewpoint to meet the needs of your story. You might have information known to some characters but not to other characters or the reader, and by manipulating the time at which the reader discovers informatioon build suspense (most mysteries are 3rd person limited narration). You can switch to omniscient third person for stories where you need to fill in backstory, or explain thiongs at whichn a protagonist was not present, or if you wish narrative access to multiple sides of emotional conflicts done by efficient exposition rather than lengthy dialogue.

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