Mastering Point of View in Fiction
A thorough, illuminating, and entertaining guide to crafting point of view, a fiction writer’s most essential choice.
Who is telling the story to whom is the single most important question about any work of fiction; the answer is central to everything from style and tone to plot and pacing. Using hundreds of examples from Jane Austen to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Leo Tolstoy to Stephen King, novelist and longtime MFA professor Lisa Zeidner dives deep into the points of view we are most familiar with—first and third person—and moves beyond to second-person narration, frame tales, and even animal points of view. Engaging and accessible, Who Says? presents any practicing writer with a new system for choosing a point of view, experimenting with how it determines the narrative, and applying these ideas to revision.
Praise For Who Says?: Mastering Point of View in Fiction…
— Karen Russell, author of Orange World and Other Stories
As an experienced teacher and witty, engaging novelist, Lisa Zeidner has a real understanding of what makes fiction tick, and from whose perspective that ticking might arise. Her book will surely be a good resource for anyone setting out to understand the complex and all-important topic of point of view.
— Meg Wolitzer, author of The Female Persuasion
Zeidner's book is a joy. Usually books that claim to be about the craft of fiction leave my mouth, eyes and my room full of dust, but this work is actually fun. It's also full of erudition, wit and insight. And it is wonderfully accessible, a helpful text for any writer at any stage of her/his career.
— Percival Everett, author of Telephone
Lively and insightful, an indispensable guide for writers of all levels.
— Ann Packer, author of The Children's Crusade
As a novice teacher thirty-something years ago, I realized that the biggest obstacle for most beginning writers was complete ignorance of how to manage point of view in fiction. I’ve been teaching to that insight ever since, which means that I agree with Lisa Zeidner! Not only on the importance of the topic but also on the key points she makes about it in Who Says?. To have such a well-organized manual on point of view is a tremendous asset, especially with the thousands of examples found here, deployed from Zeidner’s almost intimidating erudition, but softened by her customarily light and witty touch.
— Madison Smartt Bell, author of The Color of Night
In witty accessible prose, drawing on examples from a vivid universe of fiction, Lisa Zeidner breaks down the science of perspective in fiction writing. This volume articulates with stunning clarity so much of what we feel when we read but struggle to explain, offering gems for the author attempting to gain a reader’s interest and trust. Writers, students, lay readers and scholars of fiction will come away from Who Says? with a greater understanding of how to write all of the selves: them, ours and maybe even yours.
— Asali Solomon, author of Disgruntled
While point of view is the primary subject here, Who Says? is anything but narrow in scope. This capacious volume spins tales about tales themselves, drawing us into the heart of storytelling in ways that feel rich and whole, providing along-the-way insights into language, character, voice, and structure. It’s a great pleasure to read, and at its core inspirational—useful for new writers and writers made new by their latest project, too.
— Aurelie Sheehan, author of Once into the Night
W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393356113, 288pp.
Publication Date: February 9, 2021