Wednesday, November 26, 2008



Of course you are speaking with your own voice, no matter what you are writing. But don’t limit yourself to the point of view of "I did this or I did that and I saw him do that."

Personal accounts told in the first person point of view may appear as more credible, when telling something only one person could have experienced. But when telling an account about several conflicting characters, it may be more credible to treat all the characters as if they are in the third person… as if all are equal, and as if the storyteller is not biased.

Hoops. Collage. 18 x 24"

Sometimes by altering your perspective, you will write differently about something than you might have, using the first person point of view.

Blood Feud 1950s

Daddy always said
I wanted to get even
with my sister
I just wanted to be her
She wore crinoline skirts
got good grades easy

In Kalamazoo Mama was cuckoo
Daddy worked nights
My sister got a job
and got married
She got out

I wanted out too
I was fifteen and
wore tight skirts to school
I got pregnant

My boyfriend got me drunk
All his friends raped me
One night
I was holding in screams
with Mama sniffing the truth
outside the bathroom
while I bled my baby into
the toilet

My boyfriend told everybody
I was a whore
I dropped out of school
Mama screamed crazy mad

My sister said I could stay with her
When she was at work
my brother-in law wanted
to rub my back
She came home
and found us in bed
me in my undies

She should have left him
It was me she kicked out
back with Mama
After that I wanted to get ahead
instead of just even

If you are a narrator, you may choose to assume you can only know what one character is thinking, but not all of them.

Stretch your imagination a little. Put yourself in another person’s shoes and role play. Write as if they were telling a third party about you. Or talk about another’s experience in the first person, as if it was their voice. The girl telling the story above is fifteen and doesn't use punctuation.

Pay attention to whether you are using PAST OR PRESENT TENSE. Accounts in the present can be much more effective and immediate, especially in a tense situation. Try not to switch from present to past, or back again, etc.

Writing Exercises:
Choose one or all of the following :

Write about another’s experience. Try to describe a situation through their eyes. (third person point of view is acceptable. Try to be specific and particular to detail, time period, place, etc.

Write about your own experience as if someone else was telling about you and how you acted in a particular situation. (Another person speaks of you as the third person)

Think of a person who went through a terrible experience. Write the account as if you were that person, and telling it from their point of view. (first person point of view)

Write about a character you see in a restaurant. Describe the person’s appearance. Imagine the person has a secret they are trying not to reveal to others around them. The character is unique and has a particular local accent or dialect. Have him or her speak and act accordingly, and find ways they reveal clues about their secret, without actually saying what the secret is.

Writing and images are created by Ruth Zachary. All rights reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment