Characters and Point Of View Who's Telling This Story, Anyway? • The point of view is the perspective, or vantage point, from which an author presents a story. – how you choose to tell your story determines the voice of your writing. • Children's stories are told from the viewpoint of the main character. • Who this character is -- his or her personality, temperament, strengths and weaknesses -- will affect how the story is told. Different Points of View • First • Second • Third – Limited – Omniscient DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW POINT OF VIEW PRONOUNS USED • FIRST PERSON: I, me, my, mine, we, ours a character within the story tells the story • SECOND PERSON Pronouns used you, your Rarely used. Direct communication from the writer to the reader • THIRD PERSON Pronouns USED: He, his, him, she, hers, her, they theirs – LIMITED – tells the story through the experiences, thoughts and feelings of one character. • Most widely used. – OMNISCIENT – tells the story knowing all characters’ thoughts and feelings as well as all that is happening in the story. First person: The first person viewpoint uses the pronoun "I". –Your main character is telling the story in his or her own words. –This point of view allows the writer to • easily show the character's personality because every thought, feeling and opinion expressed in the narrative comes from that character. FIRST PERSON POV –The author must know the main character very well before starting the story; a flat, undeveloped character will not hold the reader's interest. Limitations to 1st person viewpoint • The character must remain actively involved in the story at all times, otherwise he ends up standing on the sidelines and describing the action in long, telling passages. • Physical descriptions of the main character come through dialogue from other characters ("I've always loved your curly hair, "Sue told me) or by the main character comparing himself to another person (I have my dad's blue eyes). • Rarely does a character stop and describe herself for no reason. First person POV • You can only show the thoughts of your main character, and you can only see the events your main character sees. • The thoughts of other characters must be expressed through dialogue. • First person, past tense is the most common, and effective, narration technique. Third person, Limited: • With third person you use the pronouns "he" and "she," but you are still telling the story through one character's eyes. • You get close to your main character by showing only his or her thoughts and feelings and following that character through the story, but you don't have to write the narration as if it's coming out of your main character's mouth. • This is often the easiest point of view for beginning writers to master. • Be careful not to comment or editorialize upon your character's actions (Billy should have known better), or speak directly to the reader (Can you guess what happened next?). Third Person Omniscient • The omniscient point of view is like looking at the story through a movie camera. • You can show the reader what's happening in several places at once, but you don't get close to any one character or see their thoughts. • This can be useful at the beginning of a chapter to set the scene (as E.B. White does in Charlotte's Web), but after a paragraph or two switch to the viewpoint of your main character. An entire book written with the omniscient point of view does not allow the reader to identify with any one character or know whose story you are telling. Charlotte’s Web 3rd person omniscient As the runt of the litter, Wilbur struggles to survive from the very beginning. Fern begs her father, Mr. Arable, to raise Wilbur and nurse him to health. Fern succeeds and Wilbur moves to Zuckerman Farm, where he learns the true meaning of friendship from the wise gray spider Charlotte. When it becomes apparent that Wilbur is being well fed for a reason, Charlotte and Wilbur are determined to foil Mr. Zuckerman’s plans. With the help of Charlotte and her “terrific” webs, Templeton the rat, and other barnyard friends, Wilbur becomes the prize- winning pig of the County Fair and the most famous pig ever. Lessons of friendship, loyalty, and truth bind this story together and show readers that friends come in all shapes and sizes. • Most children's books encompass one main character and one point of view • Some young adult novels alternate points of view between two or three main characters. This is best done when entire chapters focus on one character and one viewpoint. • It's difficult to do this successfully in books for younger children unless each character has a very different role in the book, and you are a talented writer (as in Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting). Changing the POV • How does changing the point of view affect the mood of the story? – Is it still funny, serious, thoughtful, etc.? Types of Point of View • First Person Point of View In the first person point of view, the narrator does participate in the action of the story. When reading stories in the first person, we need to realize that what the narrator is recounting might not be the objective truth. We should question the trustworthiness of the accounting. • Third Person Point of View Here the narrator does not participate in the action of the story as one of the characters, but lets us know exactly how the characters feel. We learn about the characters through this outside voice. • Omniscient A narrator who knows everything about all the characters is all knowing, or omniscient. • Limited Omniscient Points of View A narrator whose knowledge is limited to one character, either major or minor, has a limited omniscient point of view. PRACTICE 1 Goldilocks PASSAGE A: Goldilocks was a proud and defiant little girl who’d been told many times by her mother to stay out of the woods, but she paid little attention to others, especially her elders, giving lots of attention instead to herself and her own desires. One day, just to show that she could, she wandered deep into the center of the forest, farther from home than ever before. In a clearing she noticed a small cottage, smoke issuing from the chimney. She thought it was quite an ugly little cottage, but she also thought it might be a place where she could get a little something to eat and drink. The front door swung open when she touched it. “Hello,” she said. “Is anyone home?“ No one answered, but she stepped inside anyway. Immediately the smell of fresh-cooked porridge drew her toward the kitchen, where she saw three steaming bowls sitting on the counter. Passage B Make your bed, she says. Read your lessons. Fold your clothes. Stay out of the woods. Blah blah blah. Ha! I'm in the woods now, dear mother, and going deeper. As if anything out here would dare to harm a girl like me. I've followed the weaving trail through the trees farther than ever before, and what can she do about it? I'm deep in the woods now, and there's a cottage in a clearing, a muddy-looking wooden thing so small I almost miss it. What a hovel! Who could stand to live there? I want to get inside and see. Besides, I'm thirsty, and a little bit hungry after the long walk, and these country folk do so love to share. They don't use locks out here, of course, and as soon as I touch the door it swings wide open for me. I say hello, but no one answers. Even if they catch me here, who would care? A proper little girl like me can't harm a thing. I step inside. They must have known I was coming, because someone’s made a tasty- smelling porridge. When I see the brown bowls steaming on the plain wooden counter, I feel so hungry I could eat all three.
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