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Writer’s Tip: Point of View

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Point of View refers to the perspective from which a story is being told. It answers the question: Who is telling the story?

This is important because who is telling the story has a lot to do with what gets told. Let’s take take a look at the three different points of view and how you might use them in your writing.  They are first person, second person, and third person.

First Person Point of View

This is similar to a toddler’s vocabulary – I, me, mine, me, me, me, me ME!

When you tell a story using the pronouns I or we, you’re using first person point of view. Some think that this is the most intimate perspective and is the friendliest towards the reader. When a story is told in first person, the reader can feel like you’re their friend and that you’re confiding in them.

That’s what we aspire to, isn’t it?

 We certainly strive for intimacy with the reader, but using first person point-of-view can give rise to a couple of problems:

1.  You talk about yourself so much that you sound like a narcissist

2.  You fall prey to telling the reader everything instead of showing them

For example: “ I did this and then I did that, and then I went here, and then I bought that, and now it’s mine, and this was my problem… blah, blah, blah. Whopoint of view wants to hear that?

 Well I don’t and neither do your readers. Your readers want to hear your story, but if you take that approach, you’ll lose them for sure. Your job is to deliver your audience to the purpose of your book, and if they get sick of you halfway through, you’ll never accomplish that. 

 It’s actually simple to fix that. You don’t tell the reader what happened or what you did, you show them! Write your story in scenes where the reader sees what you saw, hears what you heard, smells what you smelled, and then feels what you felt. The reader experiences your emotion and becomes bonded to you through that shared experience.

Second Person Point of View

This POV uses the pronouns you, your, and yours.

The second person point of view addresses the reader and makes direct comments to them. This point of view is rare, but when it’s used, the reader snaps to attention because the writer is speaking directly to them.

Here’s an example: “If you are planning a low-budget wedding, then use paper products at the reception.”

OR

 “If you’re like me and are tired of struggling to make ends meet, then sell everything you haven’t used in the past year and pocket the cash.”

Before you get all excited about speaking directly to your readers and capturing their attention, let me offer a word of caution. Whenever you tell someone what to do, it can sound rather preachy, like you know it all and the reader knows nothing. No one likes to be told what to do, and not many appreciate the “you should” approach.

It’s far easier to influence the reader by showing them what you did. When you tell them what to do, it can cause them to resist you and your message. Respect your readers. Every time they turn the page, they make a choice to either continue with you or to drop off the path. Lead them along the path, and they will follow. Force them and they may jump ship.

Third Person Point of View

The third person point-of-view is a he said/she said narrative, and the associated pronouns are he, she, and they. The story is still being told from the perspective of an outsider looking at the action. This point-of-view is for when the story isn’t about you.

If you’re writing a biography about Abraham Lincoln, you might write something like this:

 “When he was twelve years old, Lincoln was growing into what would eventually become his long, lanky frame.”

In third person, You would use the pronoun “he.” If you wrote the same passage in first person, it wouldn’t make any sense. In first person, it would say “When I was twelve years old, I was growing into what would eventually become my long, lanky frame.”  That wouldn’t make sense if you were writing a biography about Lincoln.

If you’re writing your own story, it doesn’t make any sense to write it in third person. But if you’re telling a story about someone else, then third person is appropriate.

Pick and Stick

The trick is to pick a point of view and stick with it, which is challenging for many new writers. If you’re writing in first person, stick with first person, if you’re writing in second person, stick with second person, etc.

If you shift the point of view, it confuses the reader and dilutes your message, which is a common mistake that new writers make. Learn this technique and you’ll keep your readers engaged!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Writing Tip: Conflate

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Do you know that word – Conflate? Conflate means to combine or blend things, to fuse them into a single entity.  It’s a helpful nonfiction technique where you merge several events or conversations or relationships and present it as one single event or conversation or relationship. It allows you efficiently to cover a span of time without boring your reader to death with the blow-by-blow details when all they really need are the pertinent points.

Spare Your Readers the Unnecessary Details

Let’s say, for example, that you had umpteen conversations with your spouse about adopting a child over the course of two years. In the first conversation, you might have talked about the possibility of adoption. And you talked about that for a number of months. Then you moved on to where you could adopt a child and had numerous discussions about foreign vs. domestic adoption, older child vs. infant adoption, same race vs. other race adoption. These conversations took another several months. Finally, after two years, you made the decision to pursue a foreign adoption of an older child.

Do you need to drag your readers through all those conversations and decision points?  Maybe and maybe not. It depends upon the purpose of your book. Let’s conflate writing tipssay your book is about helping a foreign-born child assimilate into a family and culture that doesn’t look anything like them, and how to be your child’s advocate to overcome the unique obstacles they will face.

Does the reader really care about the two years you spent discussing adoption, or do they want to get to the purpose? My guess is they want the meat of your message, not your method of arrival.

So how do you handle those two years of discussion? Conflate it! Use Dialog to convey all the pertinent information, and boil it down to a couple of conversations. Here’s how you might approach it:

“I think it’s time we face the truth. We probably aren’t going to give birth our own child, but maybe we’re not supposed to.”

“It’s hard to give that up.”

“I know, honey, but we’re not getting any younger. What if we changed course while we still can? We’re not too old to adopt. I know the process takes awhile, who knows how long? If we want to have a child, I think we ought to consider this. To move in a new direction.”

“I don’t know. Maybe you’re right. It’s practically impossible to find a baby here, so I don’t know if that would be any better.”

“What if we aren’t looking for a baby? There are a lot of children who need a loving home, maybe we should think about rescuing a child, not searching for an infant.”

“One of the women in my support group showed me a picture of the orphans in Haiti. They gathered them  together after those earthquakes, but there aren’t enough adults to take care of them. One little girl – she looked about seven years old – she had the brightest eyes, but her smile, it wasn’t right. Like she knew she had to smile for the picture, but only her mouth moved. She looked really, really sad.”

You can CONFLATE two years of the backstory of how this couple decided on a foreign adoption into a single conversation, and move the action forward.

Tell Your Story Like One of the Great Storytellers

Here’s another example of conflating. Let’s say you are a teacher, and you have had numerous students with a mild form of autism. Your book is about the socialization of the classroom, and over time, you’ve learned how to help these special needs students open up and relate to their classmates. Why not illustrate that through the eyes of ONE child, not four dozen children? Why not show the experience through a single set of eyes, give that child a representative name, and use a single character to demonstrate your teaching methods?

Does this seem dishonest to you? Insincere maybe? Well, if it does, then consider this. All the great teachers were story-tellers. Jesus, Aesop, Buddha, Indian Tribal Chiefs. They taught their people valuable lessons by telling stories. Were the characters in the stories real or did they conflate a number of people or people types into one representative character?

You tell me. Who was the Good Samaritan? Who was the Prodigal Son? Does it matter? Did you learn anything about human nature through Aesop’s fables, even though the characters were animals? Are the lessons any less valuable because you can’t attach them to a specific person?

When you conflate, you tighten your writing and move your story forward. It takes practice, but your story is worth it!

 


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Featured Author: David J.P. Fisher author, become an author, write a book, feature author, self publishing, book coach, nonfiction, non fiction, nonfiction writing, nonfiction book coach

Sought-after speaker publishes business book

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Tips to writing good copy

I am so proud of how far my client, David J.P. Fisher, has come! Not only has he published his book Networking in the 21st Century: Why Your Networking Sucks and What to do About it, he has also been able to author various versions of the book tailored specifically for LinkedIn, millennials, and within your company.

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Featured Author - Helen Gennari had her book launch party for her first book, From The Heart of An Abandoned Daughter author, become an author, write a book, feature author, self publishing, book coach, nonfiction, non fiction, nonfiction writing, nonfiction book coach, helen gennari, book launch, book launch party, book marketing

Helen Gennari publishes inspirational survival story

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Helen Gennari is this month's Featured Author that recently celebrated with her book launch party for From The Heart of an Abandoned Daughter

Gennari’s autobiography launch party benefitted shelter for battered women

At the end of October my sweet friend and client, Helen Gennari, had a fabulous book launch party for her first book, From the Heart of an Abandoned Daughter: My Personal Journey Through Family Violence and Beyond, which benefitted Woman’s Place in St. Louis, a shelter for battered women. It has been wonderful to see her share her story about growing up with and surviving family violence and her desire to help others that struggle with similar situations.

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