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5 Signs You Might Be Writing from the Wrong Point of View

Have you ever read a novel or watched a TV show and realized that you really only care about one or two of the side characters? That there are some cool ideas, but you're starting to get a bit bored with the main character or storyline? These are often symptoms that the story is being told from the wrong point of view, and it’s one of the more frustrating things to come across—because it means there IS a great story in there somewhere, it’s just been told from the wrong point of view.

Here are five warning signs that you might be writing from the wrong POV:

1.) Your POV character’s actions feel incidental to the main plot. Things happen to them, or around them, but not because of them. If your character’s actions aren’t affecting the plot, then why are they the one telling the story? If your Main POV character spends most of their time reacting to other people’s choices rather than making their own, then perhaps the story would work better from the point of view of someone whose choices matter and actually drive the story forward.

2.) Your main character spends a lot of time narrating the actions of someone else. If large sections of your story involve your POV character telling the reader about things, then maybe try writing those scenes from the other character’s POV so that we can experience them directly instead of from a distance.

3.) You—or your readers—are rushing through one character’s scenes to get to another one. Sometimes writers resonate more strongly with certain characters. If you're consistently more excited to write about a side character than your current protagonist, then perhaps that is the character whose story most needs to be told.

4.) Your main character feels static. They don’t change or grow the way this other, more dynamic side character does. At their heart, stories are about change. So the best stories are the ones where the character and/or their world has the most meaningful change.

5.) Your main character is easily described using simple, archetypal terms, while other characters require a more complex, unique description. While there's nothing wrong with classic archetypes—they're often a great place to start when building characters!—there also needs to be something that sets the character apart and makes them unique. People are complex, and a good character will also have many dimensions and facets.

As always, there are exceptions to every rule. Some characters don’t really need to grow or change to be interesting or intriguing, and sometimes you can get a clearer picture of a character or situation if you see them from the outside. But those should be conscious choices, and you as the author should think about the reasons why you made them. Remember that there are always other options, and sometimes it can help to look at something from a different point of view. Find the perspective that gives the story the most heart, and really let it shine.

Author spotlight

Holly West

Senior Editor at Swoon Reads and Feiwel & Friends. Giant geek. Dedicated fangirl. Half-Elven Rogue Cleric. Also answers to That-Girl-Who-Reads-A-Lot.

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