Point of View: Do You Tell Stories, Educate or Enchant?

By: Marilyn L. Davis

“There are three points of view from which a writer can be considered: he may be considered as a storyteller, as a teacher, and as an enchanter.  A major writer combines these three – storyteller, teacher, enchanter, but it is the enchanter in him that predominates and makes him a major writer.” ~Vladimir Nabokov

 

Define Your Point of View

Point of view is the perspective from which the topic or story is told.  There are six categories:

  • (3rd Person) Omniscient
  • (3rd Person) Limited Omniscient
  • (3rd Person) Objective or Dramatic
  • 2nd Person
  • (1st Person) Central
  • (1st Person) Peripheral

Most writers use 1st Person – I went, I saw, I conquered, or 3rd Person – he/she went, saw and consuered. After deciding point of view or perspective, the next decision is how is the subject delivered?

What is Storytelling?   

GriotOral storytelling and recording cultural histories is ancient. Storytelling is a good way to connect with readers, sharing the message or experience.

African Griots are storytellers who enjoy an elevated stature as they not only keep a record of past events but also maintain a way to present the message to the current generations.  They are the historians, advisers, arbitrators, and praise singers, traveling from one village to the next, they are a walking, talking, singing history book.

Often this responsibility is a multi-generational vocation, where a grandfather teaches the history to a younger member of the group to maintain continuity in the message. Conversely, in many Native American cultures, the grandmothers are the storytellers. When the men would leave the camp to hunt, the women entertained the children with stories that reinforced common values, customs, and life lessons.

Point of View: First, Second or Third Person

I often tell stories in my addiction articles.  If they are my story, I write the article in the first person Writing from this point of view lets the reader into my head; what I was thinking or feeling at the time.  In addition, I can factually describe the outcomes of my actions, or the ramifications of poor choices.

Other times, I will use composites of people I have worked with to overcome their addictions.  In those instances, I have to be mindful of confidentiality and will sometimes blend two or more similar people or situations.  I then use the second person point of view with him, her or them.

In either case, I hope that I am adhering to Daniel Wallace’s description of an ethical storyteller:

” A storyteller makes up things to help other people; a liar makes up things to help himself.” The Kings and Queens of Roam

Stories of recovery and redemption need this point of view so as to encourage those still active in their addiction that someone else has struggled and now embraces recovery.  When I reference my obstacles and how I overcame them, these stories offer hope for those trying to make life changes.  

Life lessons can also be entertaining.  Aesop’s Fables use talking creatures and plants to deliver the message.  Or think about Winnie the Pooh – oh and Tigger, too, or Dr. Seuss. Each convey ethical choices and truths through storytelling.

Writing as a Teacher or Expert 

Teaching has been around since we drew on cave walls.  Demonstrating skills like hunting and gathering were primary examples. According to Dieter Lenzen, president of the Freie Universitat, Berlin:

“Education began either millions of years ago or at the end of 1770.”

I rather liked that quote, as it speaks to the idea of the traditional oral teaching, or cave paintings to deliver a message, all the way to the classroom setting that we are familiar with today.

Educational Titles

Writing as a teacher can be as simple as giving a title that lets people know they are going to learn something.  Titles let your reader know that you are going to educate them. For instance:

  • The Top 5 Reasons for…
  • Are You Making These 5 Mistakes…
  • An Introduction to…
  • Learning…
  • What I Learned about…

Are you an encouraging teacher, a preachy one, or somewhere in-between?  What experiences do you have with the subject?  Life, advanced degrees, or “school of hard knocks” can all qualify you to teach.

State Why You are Qualified

Let the reader know quickly why you are the person to help them learn about your article’s subject.

These introductory statements help authenticate your writing.  Do not be afraid of sounding arrogant when you substantiate that you have credibility.  Establishing trust with readers is important and it is why some writers are followed and others are not.

When you write with confidence on the subject, give value added information and interject your voice or perspective on the subject, you are demonstrating respect for your readers as well. TEACHER WORD CLOUD

So how can you include your expertise without either letters behind your name or sounding like you are bragging?  Some easy introductory phrases will convey the message.  For instance:

  • “While teaching at…”
  • “In business for 30 years, I found….”
  • “Certified as…”
  • “Trained in…”

While you may think that your writing conveys your knowledge and credibility, your readers need to understand why you are an expert or knowledgeable person.

What is Enchanted Writing? 

An enchanter is one that delights, fascinates or uses words magically.  We often think of poetry in this category as it lends itself to the fanciful, whimsical and ethereal.  However, incorporating the five sense into your writing can bring some of this same stimulating content to nonfiction writing as well.

Enchanters also captivate their readers; showing the reader information, not just telling through words.

Enchanted writing means the reader has the movie playing in their head.

Engaging their senses helps create this experience. However, we have to be mindful that this approach does not deter from the overall message.

Even a Limited Vocabulary Can Be Enchanted

Dr. seuss stampA 1954 Life Magazine report concluded that children were not learning to read because books were boring.  Theodor Seuss Geisel, or as we came to know him, Dr. Seuss, was to write something that was not boring for first graders.

Part of the challenge was that the vocabulary was limited to 348 words with the stipulation that Dr. Seuss pare that down to 250.

Nine months later, Geisel only used 236 of the original words and completed The Cat in the Hat, which has since captivated children and created tongue twisters for their parents.  That writing is storytelling, educating and enchanting.

Open Season for Storytellers, Teachers and Enchanters

BOWAll three perspectives can use focused targeted words to tell the story, educate or enchant.  I live in the south so people talk about “open season” or a particular time of the year when hunting is legal.

We writers are always hunting for just the right combination of words that capture our intent.  We make an effort to zero in on the targeted words that satisfy our reader’s curiosity, educate or enchant our readers.

By using the words like hunt, capture, zero in on, and targeted, I have kept the hunting theme going as a play on words.  This is just one example of using words to convey information, educate or engage the reader.

Point of View, Perspective and Personal 

Regardless of your point of view or perspective, to create well-written articles, writers still need to hone their writing skills.  Since there are approximately 2 million articles available online each day, every storyteller, teacher and enchanter needs to create articles that are relevant, useful and of interest. 

Practice with various perspectives; change the point of view, play with words, and create the best article you can that day.

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Tag-line: Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing

 

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