My favourite module so far? It’s hard to choose as each module brings something new to the table and I still have more to come. But the module I’ve learnt the most from is Module 4, which deals with POINT OF VIEW (POV).
Any writer knows there are three narrative points of view: first person, second person and third person.
First person is when the author writes from the character’s perspective. “I went down to the sea today and...” The only details available for the author to use are those from the ‘I’ character’s perspective. Anything the character himself cannot see, smell, hear, touch or know is out of bounds.
Second person creates the illusion that the reader is a character in the story by having the narrator directly address him. “You went down to the sea today and ...” This is an uncommon form and a difficult one to manage successfully.
Third person narration has an objective narrator tell the story using the pronouns he/she/it/they. “She went down to the sea today and…” The perspective can be either omniscient (where the narrator knows everything there is to know, including that which the character doesn’t know) or limited/attached (where the perspective is attached to one character and limited to that one character’s perceptions).
If all writers know at least the basics about POV techniques, why did I find this module so useful? Because as Jo-Anne Richards, my supervisor for this module, points out, it’s a difficult, but vital, skill to master and even the most astute writers often err when using different POV techniques.
Below are two excerpts from the assignment I completed at the end of this module. The brief was to write about an incident in a child’s life in third person attached from the child’s POV. You’ll see from Jo-Anne’s comments in red just how easy it is to slip out of a character’s authentic POV.
EXCERPT 1: Soft. Fluffy. Ma said if she could catch it, she could hold it. Lovely. With, at first, nervous steps, then with an eager rush, she chased the rabbit. The strange chortle of laughter, Be a little careful of what she notices here – and vocab and voice. Small children are the very hardest perspective characters (in either first or third person) that always seemed to catch in the back of her throat and come out like a snort, burst from her as she ran around the garden after the pet.
|I wrote about a real-life |
incident involving a
disabled child and her bunny.
EXCERPT 2: It hopped here, past her feet. Then it hopped there, under the bush Ma was so proud of, the one with the purple flowers that Ma dried and she crushed, so that Ma could sew them into little cushions to put in her clothes drawers. Lovely. Perfect. The sun, hot and burning, brought a faint sheen of sweat on her forehead. Oh no, now this won’t really work. A small child wouldn’t notice a “faint sheen of sweat”. She might notice that her head felt a bit wet.
I hope you’ve learned as much from these examples as I learnt from the assignment. In the writing I’ve done since completing this module, I find myself more aware of POV. I’m becoming better at catching myself when I unconsciously slip out of POV. And I can already see the improvement in my writing, which is what makes this Creative Writing Course so useful!
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