Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday Genre Writing - POV Narration

POV in a Romance Novel

Point of View Narration can be a bear to tame, but once that is accomplished, it will make a reader's connection that much deeper to the author's characters.

Point of View narration (POV) is simply, the vantage point the reader observes the novel from. The way a character experiences an event through their thoughts and feelings in the novel is known as perspective. The most successful POV narration (for a romance) include a first or third person narration.

First person narration includes the thoughts and feeling of the main character telling the story. In romance, it's usually used with the heroine. In a first person narrative, (an "I" pronoun is used) the reader knows the mind of the heroine. The con? The reader loses what the hero is thinking and feeling. They can hear what the hero says, but has to draw conclusions based on the heroine's impressions.

What makes for a successful first person narration? That depends on the personality of the heroine. Traits that will win over readers include being funny, sympathetic, a friendly soul and someone who isn't falsely modest. It helps to have an interesting character flaw. Think Bridget Jones.

In the third person, you might get multiple characters sharing their perspective. Usually it is just the heroine and hero, but every so often a third character might be used to impart information on the leads. **This is the most widely used narration in romances.**

POV switches occur with a line break so that the scene is in one POV only. The main advantage to the narration is that you get both the hero and heroine's thoughts and feelings. This allows the reader to get close to both lead characters.


This is known as a "dual" POV or "Lonesome Dove" after the novel that uses it. This narration includes both the hero and heroine's thoughts and feelings in the same scene. This can be disconcerting to many readers and most professional editors discourage it. The drawback is that the reader is rapidly shifting between points of views and it may feel like a boxing even. It's hard to concentrate on both the hero and heroine's perspectives at the same time.

Reference for this article: On Writing Romance, by Leigh Michaels, F&W Publications, 2007.


  1. STEPH--I didn't know "dual" POV came from Lonesome Dove. No, we don't like it, and editors certainly don't, but he made a ton of money using it! Shows us just how much we know. Good explanations here, good job. Celia

  2. Celia, from my research into it, Lonesome Dove was the first novel who used the dual POV and was very successful with it. Surprising, considering it was a dual POV, so I guess it's a testiment to how strong the story was. I never read the books but I saw the mini series on TV when I was younger and I enjoyed them very much.