The Ditchwalk Book Club is reading and discussing Rust Hills’ seminal work, Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular. Announcement here. Overview here. Tag here.
Point of view describes not simply a type or aspect of storytelling, but the single most potent technique available for realizing your narrative goals. Nothing you decide is more important to the force and effect of your fiction that the point of view you choose for each story, and how well you execute that point of view.
In instances where I’ve actively deliberated point of view for a particular story I’ve tended to focus on authorial utility, and nothing furthers that cause more than considering the narrative territory I want to explore. While many of the words and concepts used to categorize point of view emphasize limitations and restrictions, it’s just as easy to adopt an authorial perspective that emphasizes each type’s advantages.
If you’re going camping for a week in the deep woods you’ll probably want to bring a tent. If you’re writing a story about a person’s most intimate life experiences you’ll probably want to consider first-person. If you’re off to climb a mountain you may want to bring a rope so you can go off the beaten path. If you’re writing about a decaying society you might want to consider third-person so you can freely travel throughout that world.