The point of view of a story can change the tone entirely. First person is intimate. The reader is reading the story as if it was written to them but it is limited to that character’s POV only. Third person is not as intimate and can offer multiple POVs. But for sake of argument and to keep this article on target, let’s say we are just writing from a single POV.
I’m going to use this big cat to demonstrate the importance of POV. A tale told from his POV would likely be one of cunning, stealth, wisdom, and strength. He is king of his domain. The same story told from the POV of his prey, say a rabbit, would be one perhaps of alertness, fear, and camouflage. The rabbit would always be wary of the big cat, always on the run. The leopard basks in the sun without worry. Where you are on the food chain influences how you see the world.
There’s yet another POV: The bird that sits in the tree day in and day out, observing the dance between the two animals. That POV offers yet a different tone. The bird obviously doesn’t know what the leopard or the rabbit are thinking and can only surmise. That POV takes us further away from the thoughts of the two characters. We become spectators instead of participants in the cat and rabbit game.
There may be challenges the big cat is facing- starvation, injury, exile from his pride. The rabbit could be suffering the same. Each may have something they need to prove to themselves or others. Every character in your book has goals, problems, and challenges. Everything is not as it appears.
Are you telling your story from the right POV? Are you getting the most bang? Are you close enough to the key issues in your story and able to unlock the intimacy of the plot to keep your reader on the edge of the chair? If you’re not sure, try writing it from another character’s POV to see how it changes the tone of your story and your message to your reader. Exercising your authorial right to put certain characters center stage and in the reader’s mind and heart is key to good storytelling. You may find pleasant surprises when you explore all characters for your lead.
For more information on choosing the right POV for your story, check out K.M. Weiland’s blog post How to Choose the Right POV.