Ed Sheeran is a master at creating intimacy in his music. His lyrics feel like they're written just for you, and they often tell a story that feels personal, relatable, and real. Part of Sheeran's gift is his use of point of view (POV).
Before we dive into how Sheeran uses POV, let's review what POV is and how it's used in storytelling.
What Is POV in Storytelling?
Point of view is the perspective from which a story is told. The three most common POVs in storytelling are first person, second person, and third person.
First Person POV
First person's point of view is when the narrator of the story is a character in the story, and they use "I" or "we" to refer to themselves. In his hit song, Lego House, Sheeran tells his story from the first person POV:
"I'm gonna pick up the pieces and build a Lego house
If things go wrong, we can knock it down
My three words have two meanings, there's one thing on my mind"
By using the first person POV, Sheeran creates a sense of intimate connection with the listener. We can feel the protagonist's pain and see things from his perspective. Ed Sheeran uses the pronouns I, me, my, and we throughout the song to make sure we understand whose story we're hearing.
Second Person POV
Second person point of view is when the narrator of the story speaks either to the reader or viewer directly, using "you" to address them. In Lego House, it's also clear that he's speaking to someone else in the song, which helps to create a sense of intimacy.
"I'll pick you up when you're getting down
and out of all these things I've done,
I will love you better now"
By using the pronoun "you", Sheeran makes us feel like he's singing directly to us. And because sections of the lyrics are written in the second person, we can't help but feel like the song was written for someone close to him, which makes it even more relatable.
Third Person POV
Third person's point of view is when the narrator of the story is not a character in the story, and they use "he," "she," or "they" to refer to the characters. In this type of POV, the narrator is usually omniscient, meaning they know everything about the characters and the story.
"She played the fiddle in an Irish band
But she fell in love with an English man."
Sheeran uses third person POV in this section of the song, Nancy Mulligan, to tell us about the girl's backstory. By using third person, he's able to give us a more objective view of the character. The beauty of third person POV is it creates a sense of distance between the person telling the story, the listener, and the subject of the song.
By using "she" instead of "you", he's able to create a sense of detachment, which makes the song feel more like a fantasy than a reality. And unlike other songs where he sings to someone (you, baby) or about himself (I, me, my), he's able to take a step back and tell us a story about someone else. Someone we may not even know.
How You Can Use POV in Your Books or Content
Now that we've looked at how Ed Sheeran uses POV in his music, let's look at how you can use POV in your books, freebies, or social media content.
If you want to create intimacy, connection, and closeness with your reader, then use first person POV. First person is great for memoirs, personal essays, or even social media posts where you want your readers to feel like they know you.
When to use first person:
Sharing behind-the-scenes look at your business
Telling a personal story
Being vulnerable with your audience about your losses, mistakes, or journey
The About page on your website
Second person, while not as common in books or blog posts, can be powerful when used correctly. This customer-focused point of view can make your reader feel like the star of the show. Use second person when you want to address your reader directly and build a relationship with them.
When to use second person:
Employee manuals, and
Every page of your website excluding the About page.
And finally, third person point of view. This is the most common POV used in storytelling, and for good reason. Third person gives you the ability to create distance between the reader and the subject of the story. This is great when you want to review someone else's work, when you're telling a story that's not your own, or when you want to create a sense of objectivity.
When to use third person:
Borrowing expertise when teaching a concept,
When you want to sound more professional,
Case studies (when you're not the subject), and
Testimonial and success stories (when you're not the subject).
If you're just getting started with POV, I recommend using the first person by sharing lessons you've learned in your business. This will help you build trust and credibility with your audience.
What's your favorite point of view to use in your writing? Let me know in the comments below.