Writing: I, they, you

There are several ways to tell the same story. Point of view is all important in providing the reader with information from one or multiple perspectives. I have had a tendancy to write from the 1st person perspective because it comes naturally, but it has its limitations. I can’t communicate with the reader the thoughts and feeling of multiple characters and by its nature of only telling one point of view, my narrator is unreliable. Third person narrative provides a wider canvas to work with and allows you to reveal information from multiple perspective and information that you can reveal to the reader, but remains a mystery to some of your characters. Still more challenging is the 2nd person narrative. “You enter the house and see a door ajar to your left and a flight of stairs with two corridors to the left and right at the top. You step carefully through the hallway and listen for any sign of life from any of these passages. To go up the stairs and turn left, turn to page 35. To enter the door to your left, turn to page 48.” This is an example of how you could use 2nd person narrative. I grew up on “Choose your own adventure” books and never thought about the use of this as a narrative device.

So, for this exercise, write a scene in the 1st person. Re-write it in the 3rd person and if you have the time and stamina, write the beginnings of a story using the above device. Have fun.


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