What’s the Point . . . of View? Student Support Services Troy University English/Reading Workshop
Objective • To teach students the differences between the first, second and third person points of view. • To teach students to avoid the common writing error, point of view shifting
Point of View • Have you ever had an instructor tell you to write in first person or third person point of view? • Have you ever had an instructor tell you to avoid writing in the second person (you) point of view? • When you hear such instructions, do you feel confused and wonder what the instructor expects you to do?
The best way to handle such a task: Learn the difference between the first, second and third person points of view.
Definition of “Point of View” The mental view of the observer of a situation or narrator of a story Who is telling the story?
First Person • First person point of view involves writing that uses first person pronounsand first person possessive pronounsto tell (narrate) a story in a • First person pronouns (I, We, My, Mine, Our, Ours) • The narrator or narrators tell a story that has happened to him or her in the past or is happening to him or her right now.
First Person challenges • One challenge of writing in first person is to maintain some objectivity (balanced view of events without too many biases) even if the subject is very personal and you as the writer are part of the story. Credibility is related to objectivity. • Another challenge of writing in first person is to find an organized way to tell the story so that readers can follow the sequence of events. (Transition words are very important.) • A third challenge of writing in first person is to maintain first person and not shift to second person (you) point of view.
FIRST PERSON is WHAT? • Click on the video link below for a short lecture on point of view and first person point of view (youtube). • Video: “Reading, Writing & Education : How to Write a Story in 1st Person” -- YouTube - Reading, Writing & Education : How to Write a Story in 1st Person
Practice Exercise • Using first person point of view (personal and possessive pronouns), write a paragraph in which you narrate your day up to this moment. First, give a general topic sentence to characterize your day in one of a few words. • Example: My day has been very _____________. First, ________ . . . . After ___________ , I _______________. I even had to ______________, which made me feel __________________. As if that were not enough, _____________________. Indeed, I would characterize my day as ________________.
Second Person (Least recommended Point of view) • The narrator writes in a way that indicates the narrator is speaking to “someone,” but not necessarily the one or ones reading the story. • The narrator may use what some consider to be vague pronoun references. • Second person pronouns include you, your or your, and can refer to one or many audience members. It may be difficulty to determine who the narrator is addressing. • Risk of Using second person: The tone may sound preachy or could become accusatory (pointy), condescending (superior), or even “bossy.”
When to use second person (you)? • When writing or orating a speech, demonstration or lecture • When writing a letter (print or electronic) to a specified audience • When writing a process analysis in which you are “teaching” or “explaining” a step-by-step process to an audience • When writing some creative pieces (poetry), and sometimes in combination with First Person • When writing or speaking dialogue
Second Person Point of View • Please click the following video link: (“Friday: You Got A Problem With Second Person?”)to learn more about second person point of view: • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2gOU2Bqd7c&feature=PlayList&p=68287F8120D39988&index=35
Third Person Point of View • The strongest point of view because of its objective (fact-based) and subjective (opinion-based) potential. • The narrator can write with omniscient (all-knowing) authority or with limitedly omniscient power. • Omniscient narrators write about more than the obvious. The omniscient narrator writes more deeply about the subject. • The point of view that uses third person pronouns (His/Her, Him/His, They, Theirs). • With third person point of view, try to use specific nouns or when speaking of ones self, use the term “one” as in this sentence: “One should strive to maintain a consistent point of view when writing to avoid confusing readers.”
Third Person Point of View • Writers often find third person to be the most difficult point of view to maintain. • People tend when speaking to use the words “I think” or “You,” and so when attempting to write objectively, they slip into one of the other points of view.
Practice Exercise • Hint for writing in third person: Pretend you are criticizing someone, but you don’t want anyone to know you are the critic. Do not use first person or second person pronouns. • Fill in the blanks to create a paragraph reflective of the third person point of view: John is a very _____________ student. He ____________ before every exam, which many might agree is a _________________ idea. One may even describe John as a ___________________ student. Not only did he ____________ the night before his graduation exit exam, but he ______________ the next morning. In short, most of John’s peers truly ________________ him and his study practices, and some have even tried to copy his methods.
Practice Test (Test Yourself) (1) From The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois It is funny that my trip has ended by being such a fast trip around the world. I find myself referred to now as one of the speediest travelers of all times. Speed wasn’t at all what I had in mind when I started out. On the contrary, if all had gone the way I had hoped, I would still be happily floating around in my balloon, drifting anywhere the wind cared to carry me – East, West, North, or South. What’s the Point of View? _______________________ Click for the answer. First Person
Practice Test (Test Yourself) (2) From “Through the Tunnel” by Doris Lessing He was an only child, eleven years old. She was a widow. She was determined to be neither possessive nor lacking in devotion. She went worrying off to her beach. As for Jerry, once he saw that his mother had gained her beach, he began the steep descent to the bay. From where he was, high up among red-brown rocks, it was a scoop of moving bluish green fringed with white. As he went lower, he saw that it spread among small promontories and inlets of rough, sharp rock, and the crisping, lapping surface showed stains of purple and darker blue. What’s the Point of View? _______________________ Click for the answer. Third Person
Practice Test (Test Yourself) I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. Every single one of you has something that you're good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That's the opportunity an education can provide. – - President Obama speech (September 2009) What’s the Point of View? _______________________ Click for the answer. Second Person
CONCLUSION . . . • Please make use of any supplemental study materials provided to you. • Please complete an evaluation form before you leave. Use that form to recommend future workshops. • SSS hopes this presentation has given you some useful information. • Have a great learning experience here at Troy University.
Contact Information Troy University Troy, Alabama 36082 Student Support Services 109 Shackelford Hall Annex; Troy University; Troy, AL 36082 Phone: 334-670-5985 Rebecca C. Money, English/Reading Specialist 109 Shackelford Hall Annex; Troy University; Troy, AL 36082 Phone: 334-670-5985; firstname.lastname@example.org / PPT Developed 2010/01-16