Peg366's Blog

From Institute of Children’s Literature

Posted on: October 29, 2009

Children’s Writers eNews
October 29, 2009
“The Write Words to Read”
The Institute of Children’s Literature
Editor: Jan Fields

As a former student of the Institute I subscribe to their newsletter and this article appeared in the  email one that I received yesterday. I would give credit where credit is due but the actual writer of this piece is not listed. It’s probably Jan Fields but am not sure.

 Point of View

The designations for Point of View are dependent upon how the main character is presented.
* In first person, the book is told directly by the main character: “My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice, except I don’t like Beatrice. I just like B and that’s all.” – Barbara Park
* In second person, the book is presented as if the reader is the main character: “You get up in the morning and wonder if this is going to be the day you die. Sometimes you think that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Depression is like that.”
* In third person, the book is presented with a bit of distance from the main character who is referred to by name: “Marvin Redpost looked down at his desk and smiled. Nick Tuffle was Marvin’s best friend. Marvin had two best friends. His other best friend was Stuart Allbright.” – Louis Sacher_

 First person point of view offers an up-close connection with your main character but can result in too much “telling” instead of “showing.”

First person point of view can create difficulties in introducing physical description of the main character. Try to avoid the “look into a mirror” method of description since most editors consider that method clichéd.

Many character driven stories: the Amber Brown series and the Junie B. Jones series, for example, rely upon first person to clearly present the nuances of the main character. Many first person novels also include humor based on the main character’s unusual perceptions of people and event

Second Person point of view is rare because it is difficult to maintain and can produce awkward prose. However, there are some books that have used this effectively but it requires an author of incredible control.

Third Person point of view is most common overall. In restricted third person you have nearly as much closeness with the main character as first person but it is easier to avoid too much telling. The challenge to third person restricted is fighting the urge to dip into the thoughts of other characters.

Another challenge with third person restricted is limiting the story to scenes where the main character is present. This often requires creative plotting but it is nearly always better than switching viewpoint characters. Switching viewpoint characters without losing some reader identification is very difficult.

Third Person omniscient is rare because it tends to obscure your main character, creating little reader identification. Some authors try to avoid this problem by switching viewpoint character with chapter changes. A rule of thumb to keep in mind – the more often and quicker you switch viewpoints, the less your reader will care about the characters


1 Response to "From Institute of Children’s Literature"

Editorial omniscient narration is my true way to go. I detest reader identification, no matter what. None of your propaganda will make me appreciate it.

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I am an aspiring picturebook writer with some magazine credits just no picture book contract yet. I know it is coming and I am more than willing to work for it.

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