It seems easy to answer the question, “Which POV should I use for my novel?” However, there’s a lot more to it than it seems.
The point of view of a story is who the narrator is, whether it’s a third person, the protagonist, a side character, or even you yourself (though that’s uncommon). Just like choosing the right character to be your protagonist, you want the right character to be your narrator, to show your readers around the story.
When it comes to writing mystery novels, the POV is super important. In my opinion, I believe there are some points of view that are suited better for mystery novels than others.
First person point of view is when someone is telling you their story. The story is told from the “I” and “me” point of view.
I find this is a great method of telling a mystery story. The narrator can be a detective telling the story in which case the readers can get up close and personal with solving the mystery.
This point of view is when “you” are being told what to do. The story is about you and the narrator is explaining all you did.
I have never seen a mystery novel written in this point of view, especially since second person is pretty uncommon, anyway.
Still, this may be an interesting way of conveying a mystery novel. Similar to first person, your readers will be able to solve the mystery alongside the narrator or protagonist and they’ll feel more apart of the story.
Third Person Limited
In this point of view, the narrator is a third party, particularly someone who is not in the story. However, you’re limited to one character in the novel. The narrator knows a lot but can be inside the head of one of the characters, most likely the protagonist of the story.
So, you won’t know much, but you can know a little bit more. This is another common point of view for mystery novels as you can get a little more information from the characters this way.
Third Person Omniscient
Very similar to third person limited, a third party who is not in the story is the narrator. However, you’re not limited to one character’s thoughts, but you know absolutely anything and everything there is to know about all the characters and everything that’s going on in the story.
While this point of view isn’t used often, I have seen a mystery novel or two use this point of view. I personally don’t agree with it because all the secrets end up getting revealed leaving no room for the reader to guess and try to solve anything themselves.
Which should you use?
This one is all up to you. It all depends on the kind of mystery you’re trying to tell. It depends on who your protagonists are and which one of your characters is important enough to convey the story, to show your readers around the plot.
For my mystery novel, I use third person limited and I follow around my female protagonist, Lilah. George, my male protagonist, is the detective. I chose to follow Lilah because she doesn’t know as much as George. She’s learning alongside the readers and she’s trying to figure things out with George and the readers.
At first, the novel was first person with George, then I had changed it to third person limited with George. Then, after another rewrite, I finally decided on third person limited with Lilah.
Choosing a point of view is harder than it seems, but if you’re unsure, the best thing to do is just experiment. Your characters will tell you what they want.
Just be sure not to choose something that will reveal too much to your readers. For example, like I said earlier, I don’t agree with using third person omniscient as it tends to give too much information away and can cause the readers to get bored.
Depending on your characters and the kind of mystery you’re writing about, a point of view may or may not come easily to you. However, like I said, your characters will be able to tell you. They did for me.
Which point of view is your favorite? Which one do you use most often and enjoy reading? Let me know in the comments below!