- Point of view, or viewpoint, can be a confusing aspect of writing for many writers at the best of times. In writing for children, there are some stricter rules on the subject.
- There are several different viewpoint techniques in writing, but in writing for children, the viewpoints that are acceptable in modern writing are limited to a few and the viewpoint in writing for younger children is always limited to only one character's point of view.
Children relate to the point of view character in the story, so making it clear who is telling the story at the beginning of your story is very important.
Viewpoint is basically divided into objective and subjective.
The objective narrator only reports what can be seen and heard, like a camera, and does not get inside the character's head to interpret any feelings or thoughts of the character. Young picture books are written in this style where the illustrations would show the emotions of the character.
Subjective narrations is described as having all five senses through the character. This is the most common form of narrations in children book writing and is further divided into four categories:
First Person viewpoint
The viewpoint of the story is through the main character using their own words and the pronouns I, me, myself. First person viewpoint can be a straightforward telling of the story or in the form of a letter or diary.
This viewpoint gives a personal account of the main character's thoughts and feelings, whether right or wrong, and connects the reader quickly to the main character. The problem with first person viewpoint is the frequent use of the word "I", which can become intrusive.
First person narrative is best told in the present tense so that the reader feels the character is telling the story and not the writer. You must know your character very well and limit all thoughts and feelings to the character.
This viewpoint is not usually used in books for younger children.
Third Person Limited Viewpoint
Third person viewpoint is similar to first person viewpoint in that the writer is inside the character's head. The story is told through the main character's senses using the pronouns he, she, they, etc. and the story is told by only showing the main character's experience--the main character must be in all scenes.
This viewpoint gives the feeling that the story is unfolding and not being told, as in first-person viewpoint. . Writing in this perspective allows the writer to keep their own prose style, and to interpret the character's behavior while still offering depth of emotion. Third person limited viewpoint is the most common form of writing children stories as it is the least obtrusive viewpoint; allowing the best reader involvement.
Third Person Multiple viewpoint
This viewpoint is written through more than one character's perspective. Either two or three (maximum) characters are relating the story through their thoughts, feelings and experiences. This type of viewpoint is used when writing for older readers. The different character's views are usually divided into different chapters or with page breaks so as not to confuse the reader.
The purpose for using third person multiple viewpoint would be to let the reader experience two different sides of the bigger picture within the story, and decide for himself which character is right if either of them are at all.
Third Person Omniscient
The narrator knows and sees all, like he is floating above the story in a Godlike manner; he sees all events, knows all the thoughts of all the characters, and can even look into the future.
This type of viewpoint is most often used in fables, fairy tales, and read-a-loud picture books.
Third person omniscient does tend to distance the reader from the story as the reader doesn't feel that he knows or cares about any one character better than the other.
There are several other points of views with variations and combinations used in writing, but when writing for children it is best to stick to the simpler point of views listed here.
When a child hears or reads a story and feels like they have experienced it along with the main character, then you have done your best writing.
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|Illustrations by Samantha Kickingbird