Erin's Poetry Tips

40 tips to poetry and poetry forums

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Point of View

where do you stand

Point of view:
1.A manner of viewing things; an attitude.
2.A position from which something is observed or considered; a standpoint.
3.The attitude or outlook of a narrator or character in a piece of literature, a movie, or another art form.

When writing, your point-of-view focuses the vantage point of the speaker, or narrator, of the story or poem. Of course, different points of view affect the strength of the poem, and which parts of certain lines are emphasized. First person is the most common, because it’s written on the assumption that the writer is involved in the event and therefore gives the clearest most reliable account. Second tends to be a bit confusing, as most readers will interpret it in a way that they believe the writer is speaking to them, when in actuality, the writer is speaking to another individual. Third person can be effective also, as the writer is an observer of a situation, and gives his/her “take” on it, ascribing to it his/her emotional or physical reaction. The following list is a simplified definition of the three POV’s described. There are more complicated, and more obscure, points of view, but these are he basics.

1st person: the speaker is a character in the story or poem and tells it from his/her perspective (uses "I")

2nd person: Second person can be written as “you” (singular or plural). The author speaks as though he’s talking to someone, and describing what the person is doing, but is not speaking directly to the reader. It is unusual to find poetry written in 2nd person.

3rd person limited: the speaker is not part of the story, but tells about the other characters but limits information about what one character sees and feels.

3rd person omniscient: the speaker is not part of the story, but is able to "know" and describe what all characters are thinking.