In first-person POV (I saw, we did, I am, etc.) the story is told through the eyes of the main character. All the scenery, actions, and emotions come from that person. If you want to describe another character’s physical traits, you have to use your main character’s thoughts or dialogue. The advantage of this method is the ability to explore your character’s beliefs and feelings and deepen the connection between the main character and the reader. Popular novels written in first-person POV are: Twilight (Stephanie Meyer), Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Rick Riordan), The Book Thief (Markus Zusak), and, of course, the Harry Potter books (J. K. Rowling).
A disadvantage of first-person POV is that you’re limited to telling the story only through that main person. Each scene, each chapter revolves around the main character, which can make the writing more challenging. You don’t have the luxury of switching to another POV to explore a different piece of the story, or to tell the same scene in a different way.
Third-person narration is either “omniscient” or “limited.” In the omniscient viewpoint, the narrator shifts focus from character to character and has knowledge of everyone’s thoughts. He’s the invisible observer. In one paragraph Mary could wonder about her red shoes, George could think he’s a little overweight, and Harold might be getting up the courage to ask Mary out on a date. The limited viewpoint, on the other hand, focuses on one character at a time. That character may change from scene to scene or chapter to chapter, but only one character is allowed a viewpoint in any one section. This style allows the author more depth with a variety of characters. Popular books that use this method are: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson), The Lost Symbol (Dan Brown), and The Postmistress (Sarah Blake).
Whichever style you choose is entirely up to you. Stein on Writing does a marvelo us job of explaining point of view in easy-to-understand language. (See Chapter 13) If you’ve never written in first-person POV, try it out. Does your character come alive that way? Do the words flow more easily for you? If not, then switch to third-person POV. And if you’re not sure about omniscient vs. limited, play with those too.
The omniscient viewpoint was historically prevalent. In the twentieth century, the limited viewpoint gained popularity. A number of today’s authors like to interject tiny bits of other characters’ feelings into a limited viewpoint scene. Sarah Blake does this with The Postmistress. I hear James Patterson does the same in his books. And Audrey Niffenegger in The Time Traveler’s Wife uses first-person POV and switches back and forth between her two characters.
My advice is to stick with one POV until you’re comfortable with it, until you understand the rules and your characters have their own voices. Then do with your story what you will. Break the rules. Just make sure your reader doesn’t care.