An author’s perspective is a fundamental aspect of writing. Whether you realize it or not, every author brings a certain perspective to their writing. This perspective influences the overall tone of the manuscript.
For fiction, the perspective of the author comes through the characters, themes, and plot. For nonfiction, readers often discover it early on, and dive into it throughout the book. When you make yourself aware of the different perspectives each author layers into their writing, you learn to take note of your own.
Because each author’s perspective influences tone, understanding perspective is crucial to writing your story with the tone you desire.
But where does point of view (POV) fall into the author’s perspective? Is there a difference between POV, the author’s perspective, and narration? In this article, I cover the following:
This guide to the author's perspective covers:
Author’s perspective, defined
A simple, one word author’s perspective definition is worldview. Many aspects create a worldview, such as background, family of origin, socio-economic status, and much more.
Remember, a writer’s perspective and an author’s are one and the same. There is no writer vs author when it comes to the perspective of the book’s creator. Every creative brings a perspective to the blank page.
Whether you choose self-publishing or traditional, every book holds a unique author’s perspective within its pages.
A helpful way to think about this type of perspective is to consider two artists painting the same landscape but from a different vantage point.
Let’s say each artist must paint a mountain. The first artist sits at the foot of the mountain range and looks up to the summit. The second artist desires a bird’s eye view of the valley, so she climbs to the top and sets up the easel.
While both paintings will portray the mountain, each artist has a different perspective. The first focuses on the base, while the second paints from the perspective of someone who has submitted the mountain. Both paintings communicate the perspective of the individual painter.
In writing, a similar correlation exists. The worldview you grew up with, people you engaged with, and school you attended largely influences your writing. At times, this influence could be subtle (a character eager to attend school and learn, perhaps reminiscent of your own excitement or desire to live vicariously through your characters).
At other times your author’s perspective may be more overt. Consider the themes of Samuel Clemens’ novels versus those of Henry James. Contemporaries, each author took a much different perspective than the other.
How do you identify the author’s perspective?
You can often determine an author’s perspective by assessing the themes of their book. For nonfiction, if you want to determine an author’s perspective, a great step is to look through several books on a similar topic. What angle does each author take?
In the groundbreaking book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki shares two perspectives on money. Rich Dad has one worldview. Poor Dad has another worldview. By the end of the book, it’s easy to determine the author’s perspective.
For fiction, you may need to focus just a bit more in order to find the author’s perspective. Focus on the specific theme that stands out among the others. What is the central message of the story?
Charles Dickens’ final, completed novel, Our Mutual Friend, stands as a critique of Victorian monetary and class values. Read this classic to discover this iconic author’s perspective.
An additional tip for fiction: work to pinpoint the key beliefs of the villain and note the protagonist’s character arc.
Difference between POV, author’s perspective, and a narrator
Point of view, author’s perspective, and narration build on each other. The point of view is the person you choose to write your story in. You could choose first person (I/we), second person (you), or third person (he/she/it).
Once you establish your point of view, you share your unique author’s perspective through this POV. Your chosen POV acts as a conduit for your perspective. For nonfiction, you, the author, act as the narrator. Authors often write nonfiction in first or second person.
For fiction, a narrator can embody a variety of types:
- First person: the protagonist tells their story
- Second person: the narrator speaks to the reader
- Third person: the author tells the story on behalf of a character
- Omniscient: the narrator knows everything and can provide the reader hints the characters do not know
Point of view acts as the method you use to write a story. The author’s perspective is the stance you take. The narrator is the voice you choose to communicate your story through.
What are common author’s perspectives you might encounter?
Common author’s perspectives include a positive view of a theme, a negative view, or an indifferent one. You may also encounter a book with opposing perspectives and have to read to the end to discover the author’s perspective. Various themes in books go a long way in showcasing the individual perspective of the author.
Particularly in fiction, some authors prefer to set the reader up to decide the ending themself. In the classic short story, The Lady or the Tiger, Frank R. Stockton allows the reader to wonder about the ending, and therefore, the character of the protagonist’s love interest. In this way, the author takes care not to reveal his personal perspective of the love interest.
What is an example of an author’s perspective?
You can find author’s perspective examples within the classics as well as the current bestsellers. While Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin stands as one of the classics portraying the perspective of the author, perspective threads through today’s books as well. Remember that in fiction, you find the author’s perspective by looking at their primary characters.
Here is a short list of examples of fiction classics, current fiction, and nonfiction:
- To Kill A Mockingbird
- Jane Eyre
- Think and Grow Rich
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
- The Hunger Games
Stephen Covey’s most well-known book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, includes his worldview, lessons he learned in business, and tips for how others can implement his findings.
Suzanne Collins initially discovered her idea for her trilogy while watching television. She realized she wanted to share her perspective on the blur between reality TV and war. In sharing her perspective, The Hunger Games was born.
What are some other perspectives to write with?
If you want to break from the norm, you could try writing from two opposing perspectives in the same manuscript. Some authors implement this tactic in fiction, writing one chapter from one character’s point of view and the next chapter from the opposing character's viewpoint.
You could also practice by choosing to write a book description in your own perspective. Choose the back cover copy of a book you love and attempt to write it from the opposite viewpoint. This is a great way to work on expanding your author’s perspective and attempt to write from one you do not naturally gravitate to.
Your Next Step
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