Point of View

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Synonyms: POV, PoV, viewpoint
See also: tense
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Point of View, often used as acronym "POV" or "PoV", is a term commonly used in fandom for the stories written from a particular character’s point of view. This is especially popular on Archive of Our Own where the point of view character is usually in the formula "POV [character name]" as a tag on the work so that readers who are looking for a particular character in the starring role can find the work. For example, the POV Stiles tag lists Teen Wolf stories featuring Stiles Stilinski as the point-of-view character.

More broadly, point of view is used to discuss the complex relationship between narrator, subject, and reader. Or, in other words: Who's telling the story? How are they telling it? How aware of telling it are they? Narration is most often split up into three categories based on the pronoun choices of the narrator when talking about their subject:

  • first person, using first person pronouns (I, we)
  • second person, using second person pronouns (you, you all)
  • third person, using third person pronouns (he, she, it, they)

Discussions of the nuances of third person more often focus on how much information the narrator has access to, and by far the most common narrative POV in fanfic is third-person limited, where only one character's interior interior landscape is provided by the narration, though alternating POVs of multiple characters is also reasonably popular. A tag like "POV Stiles" usually means third-person limited from Stiles' point of view, although occasionally such a is used for first- or second-person narration.

First person is often used in Noir Detective AUs and some litfic fandoms (such as Sherlock Holmes and Jeeves & Wooster) are based on books written in first person, so many fans prefer fanfiction that mimics the canon POV. First person fic has trended at certain times (early 2000s?) and in certain fandoms[1], but according to Slash Report in 2014, is currently verboten in most fandoms.[2]

Second person appears most often in reader insert, imagines, and interactive fiction, but is popular in some fandoms, such as Homestuck. Second person is banned on fanfiction.net. Many readers (fannish and otherwise) are discomforted or alienated by second person, but some writers may choose to use second person specifically to produce those uncomfortable feelings on purpose.

Some fans consider use of first or second person to be a sign of badfic, but other fans enjoy the use of different POVs, because these can offer different perspectives on the source material. Because the tone, feel, and meaning of a story can change radically depending on how these questions are answered, and the radical changes that can be brought about by change in POV are a common subject of remixes. Participants in exchanges may DNW certain points of view.

POV issues are often covered in fanfic writing guides such as The Craft of Writing. See also Fanfiction#Writing_Style.


  1. ^ Discussion #2: AU or Canon, first person or fhird person (in Use For Your Words, a Hanson fanfic discussion community), December 2010-
  2. ^ after the 20-minute mark of Slash Report episode 4x17 "Ask Us Anything B" July 2014