Storytelling is a wonderful thing. Telling stories allows us to share feelings of love or sadness. We can share thoughts or memories, impart knowledge, or weave incredible fantasies. Figuring out how far you'll bring your audience into your story depends on a number of things, beginning with your point of view.
Are you telling this story as an omniscient narrator, giving your audience details about everyone and everything? Or are you telling this from a limited perspective, giving your audience details specific to one character?
When beginning to write a story, I find it helpful to ask the question "What is my mission objective?" Am I looking to enlighten or entertain? Do I simply need to get a story out of my head? Is there a character itching to get out? Figuring out my mission objective is helpful in figuring out my POV, but it doesn't always get me going in the right direction.
Case in point: I've been bouncing around a story for a couple of years now, a story about a young man with a peculiar superpower. When I first sat down to write this story, I did so because I had a character (and more specifically, his power) to write about, so I wrote from the first-person narrative.
EX: Still, I didn't cry. I watched the gunman, my eyes burning with hatred. I wanted to make this man suffer. But I knew I had to wait. I had to be strong. My opportunity would come.
Something was always missing from this story, and I couldn't put my finger on it. I ran it through a local writing group I was working with a couple years ago, and one of the suggestions was to change to POV. Whoa. What? Change my mission objective? NEVER! But the more I thought about it, the more I began to realize what changing perspectives could do to this story. A lot of the critiques centered around the character and how limited of a character he was. In order to see his real depth, maybe I'd have to look at him from someone else's point of view.
THE LONG HAUL
As you can see, figuring out my mission objective is helpful, but not a definitive answer. My choice of POV was put to the test again when I began editing Spirit Summoner. My mission objective in writing The Chosen of the Light was to entertain and to give someone else the same spark of imagination that I'd been given so long ago. I also had another objective, one I don't share that often: I was writing it for me because this was my world, and this would be my way of making it real.
What I wrote was an entire chunk of Ictarian history, retold from many different points-of-view. To me, every single word was necessary to tell the story, but my editor showed me a different side. Every time I shifted POVs, I detracted from the story. As my reader tried to figure out who's head they were in this time, they lost a little of the story.
At first, I resisted this concept with a heavy heart. I didn't want to rewrite or remove chapters to accommodate one perspective. I wanted the entire story just the way I'd written it. But I believed in my editor, and I knew deep down she was right. I had to ask myself about my mission objective again. Was it really all about me, or was I writing to tell a story? Ultimately, it's both, although I decided to limit the POVs I told my story in. There's always more stories in my head to try it differently!