I have a theory about why writers write in the POV they do. But before I tell you what it is, I should define my terms (and heighten the tension and thus the apparent importance of my theory) (not really), even though I’m pretty sure you already know.
POV stands for Point of View, that is, the narrative framework through which a story is told.
Thus, first-person point of view is told in (wow!) first person:
I went to the supermarket. I bought a large knife, a box of Oreos and some cheddar. I thought I saw Elvis in the cereal aisle, but then I realized it was my old tennis coach. “Nice sequins, Mr. D,” I muttered, not quite loud enough for him to hear. I am such a chicken. Even with a knife.
Limited third-person is told in third person, but completely limited to the experience of the main character. Thus, we never actually KNOW what another character thinks, feels or sees, except through what they tell the main character, or what the main character guesses, which could be wrong.
Roland sighed, his heart thrumming. Delilah was more beautiful than frost. She looked up at him and he could not tell if her eyes held love — or a warning.
Second-person (not much used):
You stood waiting for the school bus, wishing you’d remembered to wear a hat, wishing you’d remembered to do your homework, wishing you could remember your best friend’s name. You stole a look at her. She grinned back. She looked really nice. She was probably a great best friend. Probably.
Third person omniscient. Author Knows All, can be in any character’s head, know any character’s motivation, secrets, shoe-size.
“I do not much feel,” she said, stealing a comforting and steadying glance at her new shoes, “like smiling today.” Gerard snorted. He doubted she felt like it any day. He had not known her to smile more than twice in all the years they had been acquainted.
There are others, or possibly refinements of these categories, but already this is (much) more than sufficient background to what I actually wanted to blather on about this evening: my truly unscientific theory about what POV a writer feels most comfortable using.
I tend to write in limited third-person. This is the POV I feel most at home in. If I write in first-person, my voice changes so dramatically, it almost feels like I’m writing farce. But, I think to myself, so many books right now are in first-person. You should really do that. And then I don’t. So I have given some thought to why I write in the voice I do, why limited third-person feels so natural to me.
And I realized that the voice in my head that narrates my own life (and has done ever since I was small) is a limited third-person narrator. So when I do something like, oh I don’t know, like when I write a blog post, the narrator drones on something like this:
She sat in bed, way too tired to blog and doing it anyway. She was much happier now that her pinky was functional again, but she wished Ed would bring her a cup of tea. Not that she had told him she wanted one. She just hoped he would KNOW and bring one up anyway.
I bet that other, perhaps more mentally stable people, have first-person internal narrators: I’m sitting in bed, I’m blogging, I’d really like a cup of tea. Or whatever. It seems like that would be more logical, more normal. But that’s not how my narrator developed. I remember walking to school, reluctant step after reluctant step, and listening to my narrator telling the story of a lonely girl, her heart heavy, already imagining what new tortures the bullies would have for her that day. “She didn’t look up, didn’t want to see the school getting closer. She tried to imagine that the sidewalk was endless, that all she would have to do that day was walk, one foot in front of the other, never arriving. She couldn’t quite make herself believe it.”
And that’s my theory, that we gravitate towards writing our books in the same voice that we experience our lives. Alas, I suspect that the comments will prove me wrong, but until they do, I’m going to bask in a glow of understanding and discovery.
And maybe go get a cup of tea.