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Exploring Points of View (POV) in Composition Writing

Hi! My name is Mrs Loh and I’m a teacher at Lil’ but Mighty. If you are an avid reader like me, you will agree that a good story is often one that has a logical sequence of events and one that is written from a consistent point of view. When you write a story, you must decide who is telling the story and who owns it. This is called the points of view in English composition writing.

There are many ways of writing a story from different points of view but I will not be discussing all of them. Instead, I will be focusing on two points of view that are commonly used in composition writing – the first person point of view and the third person point of view. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages when writing in the first person and in the third person. In this blog post, we will be weighing the pros and cons of using each point of view.

Points of View in Composition Writing

The First Person Point of View

When you choose to write a story in the first person POV, you write as if you are in the story. You are telling the story from your point of view. You own the story and you are in the story. Hence, the story will contain pronouns such as ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘my’, ‘we’ and ‘us’. Below is an example of a paragraph written in the first person point of view:

Points of View in Composition Writing

The greatest advantage of writing in the first person, is that it feels personal. When you write in the first person, the person reading the story feels an emotional connection because the main character in the story is speaking directly to the reader. Stories written in the first person can be very engaging because the person reading the story enters the private thoughts and feelings of the main character in a very personal way.

The downside to writing in the first person is that it can be limiting. The story can only include what the main character sees or experiences. The writer cannot describe the thoughts of other characters in the story. Thus, the person reading the story would not know what the other characters in the story are thinking, which at times can add another layer to the story and make it more interesting.

To ensure that the reader remains engaged, it is important to remember to describe the actions and reactions of the other characters as seen by the main character. For instance, in the example above, although the reader was not privy to what the narrator’s brother was thinking, he/she can still clearly see how angry his brother was through the use of dialogue and a description of his actions (bellowing and striding).

The Third Person Point of View

When you write a story in the third person, you are telling a story involving two or more characters in which you are not one of them. You are not in the story or part of the story. Hence, the story will contain pronouns such as ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘they’, ‘his’, ‘hers’ and ‘theirs’. The only time the pronouns ‘I’, ‘my’, ‘our’, ‘we’ and ‘us’ are used is when they are used within speech tags. Below is an example of a paragraph written in the third person point of view:

Third Person Point of View

There are two major advantages of writing in the third person:

  • You can write about the thoughts and feelings of more than one character in the story. In the example, we know what both John and Peter were thinking.

  • You can describe the expressions on all the character’s faces (John’s face turning pale, Peter’s eyes blazing with fury) and can write about what continues to happen even though one or more characters have lost consciousness or if they are no longer present in the scene.

As such, the person reading a story written in the third person is able to experience the thoughts and feeling of all the characters in the story. This might allow him/her to have a richer and deeper overall understanding of the story.

There is, however, a major downside to writing in the third person. If you fail to show how each character is feeling or reacting, or if you fail to include the personal thoughts of the characters in the story, your story can end up sounding like a boring report about which character did this and which character did that. This is something that we want to avoid so if you do choose to write in the third person, you must ensure you power up your characters with descriptions of their thoughts, feelings and actions!

Which point of view should I choose?

So, should you write in the first person point of view or the third person point of view? Well, it’s really all up to personal preference and writing style. Before starting your story, always think about what you want to achieve.

If you want to raise the emotional stakes for the reader, you might want to consider writing in the first person. If your purpose is to tell a story objectively and to get the reader to experience the emotions and thoughts of all the characters in the story, writing from a third person point of view might be better.

Whichever point of view you choose, remember to maintain consistent points of view in English composition writing. Always check and edit your writing to make sure that there are no pronoun changes from the first to the third person.

In my next blog post, I will discuss three common point of view errors students make when writing in the first person point of view so do look out for it! Meanwhile, have fun experimenting with your writing!

Write and Shine

Introducing LBM’s newest Paper 1 Focused P6 Writing Programme for 2022 – Write & Shine!

Duration: 1.5 hr Weekly

Composition Writing (with 20 Composition Topics covered)

Situational Writing

Ms. Elaine

I believe that language learning is not just about getting a good grade in school, it is empowering every child with the ability to express himself creatively and confidently. To me, the ability to use language to do just that is what makes us human. As a teacher, I always encourage every child I teach, to get out of his comfort zone in order to experiment with new writing techniques and to never be afraid of making mistakes because making mistakes often shows us how to do things even better!

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