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13.Points of view

All writing is presented from a particular point of view, and the ones chosen will largely define how engaged the reader will feel.

However, the point of view chosen can be varied as the narrative proceeds, allowing the reader to see different perspectives according to the intent of the narrative. It is part of building up active scenarios in the readers' minds.

Active and passive voice ^

Voice is about indicating who/what is doing an action, and who/what it is being done to. Essentially, it is about the level of responsibility of each with respect to the action.

A simple indicative example of both voices is:

VoiceExample
ActiveThe perpetrator robbed the victim
PassiveThe victim was robbed by the perpetrator

Here, the perpetrator is the one responsible for the action, while the victim is the one acted upon. Notice that in the active example, the subject is the one doing the action, while the object is the one acted upon, whereas they are swapped for the passive example.

Using active voice can help the reader feel involved in the narrative, as if they are part of the action, or should be. Conversely, using passive voice puts the reader as an observer, watching events unfold.

Judicious use of these in an action novel can help align a reader with the protagonist while making them unconcerned with the fate of their foes. You use voice to manipulate the emotional involvement of the reader. A reader wants this in a novel but should be wary of it in the presentation of non-fiction.

One place where voice can really help is in procedures, where the actions required of the reader should be in active voice, whereas the resulting response should be in passive voice, reflective of the actual level of activity. This subtlely reinforces the needed activity level for each phase of a step.

To illustrate a procedure step:

PhaseExample
ActionPress the OK button
ResponseThe File dialog is displayed

It is very clear to the reader when they are to take action and when to just observe.

First, second and third person ^

Person is about indicating how involved you want the readers to feel. It indicates how much they need to identify with the subject matter.

The three persons are:

PersonPronounsIdentity
FirstI mine me we oursWe are
SecondYou yoursYou are
ThirdThey theirs them he his him she hers herThey are

The first person plural can be used to highlight group identity and sense of belonging. It implies inclusiveness, especially of the writer. It can help with audience bonding over the subject matter, though it can backfire if the author is not perceived by the audience as belonging, as it will be seen as faking solidarity.

The second person puts the audience in the spotlight, so they may need have that indicated to them, if not by context, such as a procedure, then explicitly in an introduction.

Third person is for referring to other people/places/things that are typically not part of the audience's immediate situation, but of interest to them, so it is good for discussing most topics. However, when the topic shifts to them being personally involved, such as in a travel acticle when starting to describe what a reader may need to do to get accommodation, then shift into second person mode, at least for those particular instructions.

In English, the singular second-person pronouns were dropped so that the plural pronouns always apply, with the context providing how many are being referred to. Unless the gender is known, the third person plurals can also be used instead of the single version, avoiding the unnecessary gender stereotyping that the singular versions may imply.

Typical uses of each person are:

PersonTypical useExample
FirstOpinionI think that we should all go together
SecondCommandYou hold the door open for the rest of your team
ThirdInformationWhile most were at ease, some of them were apprehensive

In one-to-one use of second person, such as in the action phase of a procedure step, the you is implied.

For a procedure, the third person is useful when you want to provide background information that may help a person understand and prepare for the instructions that follow.

English (Australia) [en-au]

English (United Kingdom) [en-gb]

English (United States) [en-us]


TS: art-a 3ID: 2019-10-13-01-34-07Now: 2020-07-15-23-21-13Powered by: Smallsite Design©Patanjali SokarisManage