Point of View (First/Second/Third Person Writing)

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After venting about werewolves and love interests for months, I'm really excited to talk about points of view

I'm going to start by asking you to close your eyes and imagine. 

Okay, wait, don't close your eyes yet. Because I realise that stops you from reading the rest. 

With Halloween soon coming up, I want you to imagine the classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood. I want you to imagine it as it normally is told -- from an outsider's perspective. Sometimes it's satirical, chiding Red Riding Hood for her naivety. Sometimes, it's just matter-of-fact -- the story is told with a lesson at the end, simply like how your mother would tell you not to leave the fridge open.

Now, imagine you want to do a retelling. What sort of things do you do? 

Do you tell it from Hood's perspective, so we can feel her confusion and fear, her optimism and hope? Do you want us to feel her grow in courage? 

Do you want to tell it from the wolf's perspective, so we understand his intentions and motivations? So that we see a vengeance arc unfold before our eyes? 

Do you want to tell it from the grandmother's perspective? Maybe we see more to the story -- she has history with the wolf? Maybe we see her sitting inside a wolf's belly, if you're into that sort of thing? (I can't even judge. I just wrote a short story about someone sitting inside his dad's stomach.)

Or maybe we see the axe guy? Lumberjack? 

Perhaps Hood's mother, and her badass detective story arc as she snatches the axe from the lumberjack and does the hard work for him to save her daughter? 

Maybe we tell the story from the perspective of the fruit basket, who was evil all along and plotted for the wolf to eat all the humans so that fruits would never be eaten by another human again? 

The opportunities are endless!

So let's talk about it! 

Perspectives are a super powerful tool in your writing. There are three distinct types that we are taught: first person, second person, and third person. 

So, what is each one? 


This is when we use the pronouns: I, we, me, my. It's like the narrator is directly telling us something that happened to them. For example: 

I was so screwed. 

I had launched my missile towards the wolf's mouth, but somehow, it had ended up in New England instead. This was worse than that time I tried to grow zombies, or went snowboarding with a watermelon.

This was bad. 

Because now, I was face to face with the Big Bad Wolf's Eternally Bad Breath. 

As you can see, by the bolded letters, we have a lot of I and my. That is first person.

In general, the advantage about this sort of perspective is that it's more intimate. It's like you're in a room with the character, and they're telling you about their adventure. 

Now, in most instances, when first person is used, it's told from the protagonist's perspective. 

However! You don't have to do that. I've seen books told in first person, but it's told from the perspective of a minor side character. In fact, this has been done quite a bit. Sometimes it's someone from the future, recapping the story of the past. Sometimes, it's simply a side character who is also in the story, but is keeping their identity as the narrator a mystery (see: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff). 

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