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Writing 101, Day Eighteen: Hone Your Point of View

Craft a story from the perspective of a twelve-year-old observing it all. For your twist, focus on specific character qualities, drawing from elements we’ve worked on in this course, like voice and dialogue.

The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.

Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.

First person, second person, third person, whew! Point of view is a type of narrative mode, which is the method by which a story’s plot is conveyed to the audience. Point of view tells not only who is telling the story, but also how it is told. Consider a recent short story published on The Worship Collective, “Funny Things,” in which the narrator is a child who has passed away.

Need a refresher on first-person narration? Recall Scout Finch, the six-year-old first-person narrator of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. She tells the story through her eyes:

It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.

“‘Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’ That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.”

Today’s twist: For those of you who want an extra challenge, think about more than simply writing in first-person point of view — build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.

Refer to some of the exercises we’ve done on character, dialogue, and even sentence length to help craft this person. All of these storytelling elements can combine to create a strong point of view.

Need a helping hand? Head to The Commons.

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      1. Thank you! I don’t like sad, so I tried to make it a little lighter. I liked yours as well. And I also liked the site of a fellow Georgian. :)

  1. It would be helpful if you either linked to or quoted today’s prompt. I’m sure some people aren’t following it.

      1. “Writing 101, Day Eighteen: Hone Your Point of View Craft a story based on the today’s prompt, from the perspective of a twelve-year-old observing it all. For your twist, focus on specific character qualities, drawing from elements we’ve worked on in this course, like voice and dialogue.” My comment is based on “based on…today’s prompt.” What if someone doing the Writing 101 exercise is not following the Daily Prompt? Or is that not what this is referring to??? I hope that makes sense :-)

      2. Ah, ok! I think I understand — I made the prompt more explicit in the piece by prefacing it with “Today’s prompt” and revised the excerpt at the top to remove reference to the prompt, which could very easily by confused with the Daily Prompt, which is something else entirely.

        Thanks for your feedback! Let me know if I can make it clearer.

      1. hi, thanks for feed back. Well, I wanted to leave it open ended. The dad has something to hide, as he is terrified of the police. The 12 yo knows that his dad is somehow dangerous, and gets a confirmation that his dad is an idiot, the position he held from the start. I also tried to show how things are unfair, since Mrs Pauley was taken away in a police car where her neighbours are the real criminals, just like the boy gets in trouble for dropping food, whereas the dad is the one who has done a real deplorable thing by endangering the whole family by dropping the glass onto the floor. anyhu… probably, if i have to explain it, i didnt do so well in bringing it across…=( thanks for feed back though, shows me where i still need to get much better=)

    1. You’re more than welcome to change the age of the narrator in your response or adapt any of the challenges/prompts/twists as you see fit.

  2. Good another challenge to stretch the imagination, I don’t know if I am up to the challenge but I’ll give it my best.

  3. Across from my stoop lives Mrs. Pauly. A really kind lady who lives all alone. She feeds all the strays, gives us kids treats,and she let us use her hose when the heat has us beat. It’s been quite a while since we have seen her smile.
    Now her comes her landlord who has the police in tow( he’s not a very nice guy just so you know). They are knocking and knocking but she hasn’t let them in, I see the shine of his keys as he let’s himself in. Them I see him run out and throw up in the garbage bin, and now he’s on the phone and saying she’s dead, seems as if she fell and hit her head. Poor Mrs. Pauly I will miss the things she did, poor Mrs. Pauly I wish she wasn’t dead.
    It seems just at the age of 12, I have lost my very first friend. So long Mrs. Pauly until we meet again.

  4. This isn’t necessarily the first “Writing 101″ assignment I’ve attempted… Just the first time I’ve actually posted the link here in the comments to any of the “prompts”. Tried something a little different – A letter (in the form of a journal entry).

    http://wp.me/p1s8Rt-11p

  5. This was quite a difficult challenge to put into verse. However, I reasoned that a 12-year old (we don’t know whether it’s a girl or a boy) wouldn’t care about Mrs Pauley’s history; they probably wouldn’t even know. All they’d see is the perspective from their viewpoint. Excitement, police and a little old lady being led away. Imagination runs wild and turns supposition into fact.

    http://jemverse.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/writing-101-day-18-robber-lady/