Point of View vs Perspective: Differences and Examples for Writers

In writing, point of view vs perspective can be confusing.

Perspective describes the narrator’s or characters’ viewpoint or method of telling a story.

It includes not only the narrative point of view but also the attitudes, prejudices, and feelings of the people telling the story or going through the events.

What about point of view? We have it all covered just below. Read!

Point of View vs Perspective

Let’s start by defining these two terms.

What is Point of View?

Point of view refers to how a story is being told. Basically, it means the view of the narrator. It refers to the pronouns for the narrator.

Writers choose the point of view based on the effect they want to create. It then sets the tone of the relationship between the reader, the narrator, and the story events.

See also: How Many Word Count Are in a Novel? Word Count by Genre

What are the types of points of view?

First-person: The narrator is a character in the story who uses “I” or “we”.

Second person: This point of view addresses the reader directly with the narrator using “you”.

Third person limited: The narrator uses “he”, “she” or “they”. The narrator is only aware of the thoughts of one character in the story. Learn more about third person limited POV.

Third-person omniscient: The narrator uses “he”, “she” or “they”. The narrator understands the thoughts/feelings of multiple characters.

What is Perspective?

Perspective refers to how the narrator perceives events, places, and people in the story.

It is shaped by personal history, such as experiences, beliefs, and background.

Basically, it refers to the narrator’s general view.

Point of view focuses on who is telling the story (the narrator), while perspective focuses on how the story is told.

Writers need to express the uniqueness of every character for the story to be realistic, unique, and multidimensional. Perspective affects how the narrator describes and interprets events in the story.

See also: What is 3rd (Third) Person Limited Point Of View?

What is the Difference?

Perspective shows the narrator’s view of the world and his personal experience while point of view is about the narrator– the pronouns used and relationship to the reader.

Point of view is a technical choice by the author. Perspective comes from the characters and their backgrounds.

Point of view and perspective are related, but different. Both are important for good storytelling.

Examples of Point of View

Let’s look at some excerpts from famous books to see the point of view in action:

First-person – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

“When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem’s fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh.”

Second person – Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

“You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. But here you are, and you cannot say that the terrain is entirely unfamiliar, although the details are fuzzy.”

Third person limited – The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

“He walked down the street, swaying dizzily, squinting at the brightness of the day. Cars and buses roared by him; a bicycle whirred to a halt near him and the rider cursed him under his breath. Still, Amir walked on. He felt strangely oblivious to everything around him.”

Third person omniscient – Middlemarch by George Eliot

“A man of her husband’s age, if he is vigorous, is rather a partner than a parent in most things. Mr Vincy never furnished much aid in graver matters, and was impatient that Lydgate’s visit just now was taking so long when he himself had not been kept waiting, since he had important business everywhere and could only call for a quarter of an hour.”

What Can Influence Perspective?

What shapes and influences a character’s perspective? The following are some of the reasons.

  • Personal experiences – Events they’ve lived through and learned from. This shapes how they interpret new events.
  • Cultural heritage – The values, norms, and customs of their cultural background.
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age
  • Religion
  • Education
  • Profession
  • Wealth and class
  • Physical/mental ability
  • Family
  • Location

How to Use Perspective to Write Better

Have unique perspectives for each main character

Give the readers different worldviews shaped by the character’s background. Let them sound different.

For example, in a romance, the two lovers likely have very different family backgrounds that shape their worldviews. Use this to generate both connection and misunderstanding between them realistically.

Research experiences outside your own

Always research and listen to people from different backgrounds s you can learn to display perspectives other than yours.

Don’t just rely on your own perspective.

Read works by authors of different eras, cultures, orientations, and abilities. Listening to news stories from different people will open you up to the views of others which can help you become convincing when rendering varied perspectives.

Use perspective to add complexity

Write and explain multiple events in conflicting Layer events with multiple, conflicting interpretations. The way I saw a situation growing up might differ from how my sister saw it based on our different ages and personalities.

Varying perspectives add realism and depth to your work. It avoids a simplistic, black-and-white depiction of people and events.

Make perspectives clash

This is one way to add thrill to your stories. Use perspective differences to describe conflicting characters. Show how their worldviews make them misunderstand each other’s words and actions.

Just like in real life, perspective differences can fuel grudges and rifts between people.

Consider historical context

Perspectives can differ in cultures and generations. Research and add details that will cover historical viewpoints in your work.

Document how new events made you change your perspective. Do not include modern views in history.

Use an unreliable narrator

An unreliable narrator has a limited perspective which affects how they tell the story. The detailing reveals blind spots.

Unreliable narrators create dramatic irony as readers perceive more than the narrator. The limited perspective intrigues and disturbs.

Examples of Perspective

We will list how perspectives shape characters taking a cue from popular stories.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Scout tells her story from the naive perspective of a little kid who is unable to understand how racial biases affect her community. When she at last perceives a lynch mob from an adult perspective, she says:

“The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box.”

Her perspective is shaped by her growing awareness of injustice, which also makes observations about other people’s perspectives.

Point of view vs perspective FAQS

What does it mean to have a perspective?

Perspective is a general term for a person’s unique point of view that is shaped by their experiences, society, and personality.

What are the four types of point of view (POV)?

There are four types of points of view, which are:
In the first person, the narrator uses “I” and “we”
Second person: The speaker uses “you” in the second person.
Third-person limited: The words “she,” “he,” “they,” and “it” are used by the narrator.
Two types of third-person point of view: A third-person limited narrative happens when the narrator is privy to only one person’s ideas. Third-person omniscient: The narrator uses “she,” “he,” “they,” and “it.” The narrator is privy to the feelings and ideas of other characters.

What distinguishes point of view from perspective?

It’s simple to distinguish between point of view and perspective when you ask yourself a few questions. The story is told from the author’s point of view. Who is saying this? This will show the first-, second-, or third-person point of view (POV). You must study the character’s worldview to understand their perspective. What effect have the character’s upbringing and experiences had on their worldview? Their perspective is shaped by this. Students may find it challenging to distinguish between POV and viewpoint at first, but with constant practice, they will quickly become proficient in use!


Perspective and point of view are two crucial components for bringing fiction to life. The narrator’s use of pronouns shows their point of view and how they relate to the reader. Because every character has a unique background, perspective affects how events are described.

Continue reading the best storytellers to see how they manage perspective and point of view. Conduct research rather than relying simply on your own perspective.

Gaining a thorough understanding of perspective and point of view can help your creative idea shine through on paper.

And, like with many parts of writing, understanding the fundamentals like this one will result in a story that your readers will love in the end.

Now head outside and start practicing!