3 Points of View to Make a Difference in Your Composition Writing
“Come on, sweetie. It won't take long,” my ”mother” cajoled. As I squirmed in her arms, I thought about the horrors of her putting me in the carrier. That meant only one thing. We were going to the vet. I yowled and screeched but to no avail. She had somehow managed to place me gingerly into the carrier. How could she do this to me? She knew I hated confined spaces. As I did my best to meow pitifully, I knew my “mother” had won. I was going to the vet, like it or not.
Can you guess whose point of view this short paragraph is written in? If you’ve answered cat, then you’ve got it right!
Writing in a different point of view can add a lot to a story as it can allow the readers to hear a different voice and see the same story differently based on who is telling the story. Therefore, changing your point of view from what is usually expected in a typical storyline helps to make the story more interesting. If done well, it can also be incredibly believable.
With the SA2 composition examination fast approaching for most of you, I would like to share with you three different perspectives that you can consider writing from for your composition. Let’s go!
To begin with, choosing the point of view to write, you need to first consider who the possible characters in your stories are. Let’s say I’m writing a story about a robbery that happened at the park. Consider the characters and you can write a story in these three points of view:
In the point of view of someone older or younger
In the point of view of someone who has a different profession, e.g. policeman, firefighter, a thief (yes, it is a chosen job, unfortunately!) or even a nurse
In the point of view of an animal
In a story about a robbery, the basic characters are likely to be the victim, the thief and perhaps, the policeman. Next, we need to consider the different personalities that can assume each character. From here, considering a simple and logical storyline, we can decide that the victim is an elderly lady while the thief and policeman can possibly be middle-aged and able-bodied men.
How do we get down to writing from the various points of view then? Whether it is the elderly woman or the policeman, remember to use these three following techniques.
1. Vivid verbs
Let’s say we’re writing in the point of view of the elderly lady. An elderly lady would not move as fast as a young person. We cannot write this:
I dashed to chase after the thief.
Instead, we should write:
Shaking my cane at the thief, I hobbled towards him but to no avail.
2. Physical description
We should also do our best to weave in physical descriptions into the story. This is important as this allows the reader to infer who the main character is.
Some examples include:
My thin legs could only carry me so far. Seeing how quickly he ran made my bones ache.
In this way, we can tell it’s an old lady because the writer wrote about aching bones and thin legs.
3. Sentence structure to make it interesting
Far too many pupils get too caught up with establishing a different point of view that they end up writing this:
I was an old lady returning home from the supermarket. I was carrying heavy bags. I took a shortcut by walking through the park.
All of these sentences start with the pronoun “I”. What we should do is to vary sentence beginnings so that it sounds like the thoughts of the person in the story are being relayed. After all, no one thinks in their head, “I am an old lady. I buy groceries every day.”
Instead, what can be written is this:
As the bulging bags of groceries strained against my thin wrists, I plodded back home. Perhaps a shortcut through the park would make my journey easier.
Do you see how varying your sentence beginnings can help make the main character’s voice more authentic?
Let’s see how we can employ these techniques from three points of view.
In the point of view of the old lady (age)
2. In the point of view of a patrolling police officer (profession)
When can we use the point of view of an animal? Consider how the animal can be the main character and play an active role in the story. Some stories such as “A rescue” lends itself to perhaps an animal being a hero. In the story about the robbery, the animal could be the hero as well and here is how we can craft the story in the point of view of an animal:
Other pitfalls to avoid:
1.Make sure that your point of view is consistent!
If you’re writing using first person (using “I”), make sure that your story uses the same pronoun throughout. If you’re using a third person pronoun, like “he” or “she”, make sure that you’re using the same pronoun all throughout as well.
2. Check with your teacher if you’re allowed to write in the point of view of an animal
Some schools don’t allow their students to write in the point of view, especially in the first person. However, some schools give some leeway with this and let you write in the point of view of an animal in the third person.
Instead of writing, “I meowed loudly at my owner.”, you could possibly write:
“Fluffy meowed loudly at its owner. As it did so, it thought, “Why wasn’t she feeding me?”
Remember that even with this limitation, you can still focus on showing the reader what it’s like to be someone older or even younger than you.
3. Try not to write in the point of view of a criminal.
While it’s exciting to get into the brain of a criminal, some teachers may not allow this as they feel like this does not imbue students with the type of morals that they want to instil in them. In order to play safe during the examinations, it’s advisable to write in the point of view of an upstanding citizen, especially a policeman (or woman), or perhaps even a firefighter.
Again, remember to check if your teacher allows you to write in the point of view of a criminal before you enter the examination hall.
One last tip:
If you’re writing in the point of view of an animal, remember to think about its strengths and limitations.
For example, when writing about a dog, one must be aware that many dogs have an acute sense of smell. This lends well to stories about catching thieves and burglars as the dog would be able to use its sense of smell to track down a criminal.
However, dogs cannot see in colour, so it would be strange to describe that the grass is green. Remember to use your other five senses, especially the sense of smell and hearing to show how a dog would perceive its environment.
Do you have any other additional tips when it comes to writing in a different point of view? Let us know in the comments!
Ms. Xie is an English Teacher at Lil’ but Mighty. Her best subject has always been English and she's been writing ever since she could hold a pen. Her first book, Dragonhearted, was shortlisted for the Scholastic Asian Book Award in 2014 and published in 2016. It was also shortlisted for the Singapore Book Awards in 2017. She also won the Hedwig Anuar Children's Book Award in 2018.
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Is your child facing any of the following while attempting their composition?
Have trouble describing a scene
Being unable to show how a character feels
Unable to use transitions
Needs to work on sequencing events in a logical and clear manner
Have difficulty elaborating on the climax of a story