Perspective in Literature- From the Writing and Reading Toolbox

Monday Features


Writer’s and Reader’s Toolbox Time

I’ve been thinking a lot about perspective lately. In a conventional sense, perspective is how someone sees something- their side of the story, so to speak. In writing and reading, perspective is how the story is told.

1st person- I am telling you the story
2nd person- You are personally involved
3rd person- He or she is in the story

There’s more to it than just that though- certain “persons” lend themselves to different types of writing. For example, if the story is a personable tale of someone’s adventure, perhaps 1st person is a good choice. If the stakes are high in a story, though, and the character’s safety is in jeopardy or question, perhaps 3rd person is a good choice since 1st will seemingly convince the reader that the narrator (that character) is all right. 2nd person is rarely used in fiction. It’s more often found in instructional manuals, self-help books or cookbooks.

Perspective is not only the “person” that a story is in, but also the tense. For example, is the story told in 1st person past?

I ran up the stairs. I went to the park.

Maybe, it’s in 3rd person present, to make the action more immediate and draw the reader in.

Sally’s running up the stairs, gasping for air.

What it comes to is this- how a story is told directly impacts how the story is perceived and what the story is will naturally affect how it’s told. 

Questions to consider–

Writers- what perspective do you like to write in?

Readers- what perspectives do you like to read?

Imagine your favorite book or one you read recently. How would the story change if it were told in a different perspective?

My best to you all,

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