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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Overview Voice: First Person Point of View

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

The strong advantage to a first person narrator is the personal connection. Sometime it is a deeply told personal story or is spoken as a witness or observer. However, even when shared as an observer the personal connection to the narrator informs the details and emotions.

For example, there are two children looking up at a roller coaster ride. One narrator finds it exciting so through his viewpoint the description has more positive and active details. The other potential narrator finds it frightening and although gives the exact visual information the tone and atmosphere may be completely opposite.

A first person view can add intensity and intimacy and explore a broad emotional mood spectrum. However the emotional relationship can also become a detriment to the reality of the story or situation if the main character is so personally involved that he cannot be discerning. Or if the character is acting from misunderstandings or information then as narrator he is also feeding the reader a ‘mistaken’ interpretation. And yet if it’s done on purpose the impact can be stunning. Katherine Paterson’s Jacob Have I Loved is an excellent example.

Another advantage of first person though is that the reader is experiencing the unfolding story right alongside the main character and experiencing the tension, and curiosity, and unexpected twists. It’s like sitting on Tinker’s Bell’s wing while she flits from scene to scene. We are immersed.

Action Steps:

1.     Take the following two excerpts from Because of Winn-Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo and rewrite them as third person limited. Her name is India Opal Buloni.

“All the Winn-Dixie employees turned around and looked at me, and I knew I had done something big. And maybe stupid, too. But I couldn’t help it. I wouldn’t let that dog go to the pound.” (page 10)

“I found a dog,” I told him. “And I want to keep him.”
“No dogs,” the preacher said. “We’ve talked about this before. You don’t need a dog.”
“I know it,” I said. “I know I don’t need a dog. “But this dog needs me. Look,” I said. I went to the trailer door and I hollered, “Winn-Dixie!” (page 17)

            Share: What got lost in the viewpoint when you changed it, both in each scene and to the reader?

Read deep, marcy

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