It's something we writers really need to understand and work on if we want our readers to get into the heads of our fictional characters. And to a certain extent non fiction. If we're a reader then we'll want to know who is actually telling the story.
If you're writing in first person, you'll use I. me, mine pronouns to tell the story from this very personal POV. That means you can only allow the reader to know what your character can see, hear, feel, and touch. Chicklit and often detective stories are written in this POV.
Third person uses he, she pronouns and proper names. So you tell the story from his or her POV. The reader should experience things only from that character's POV You can also write multiple POVs which I favour as I enjoy giving my main characters and maybe a couple of secondary characters their POVs.
Nowadays ( especially in the US market) Close POV seems to be preferred for current fiction. This focuses on internal thoughts and is worked in the dialogue and action scenes.
Here's 2 examples. 1. Third person distant POV: Annie knew it was time to leave before things got too embarrassing, especially if she said too much. You are reading about what she's thinking. 2. Third person close POV: She'd better go now. Things could get embarrassing if she stayed. She'd be sure to say too much. A subtle change, yes, but now you are in Annie's head. You are free to show thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and not tell about them. And that way you're fully engaged in the story by feeling what the main character is experiencing.
For Down Unders only. Here's an exercise just for fun: Write a short caption for what this intelligent babe is thinking in Close POV. Leave your email using (at) and (dot) and I'll choose what I think is the cutest. The winner will receive a copy of my first book, Fire in the Rock. sometime after the following weekend.
Rita Galieh is now putting the finishing touches on THE TIE THAT BINDS, the second book following SIGNED SEALED DELIVERED of the Watermark Women Trilogy.