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

 

By: Marilyn L. Davis

 

Define Your Point of View

“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

 

Point of view is the writer’s perspective. 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 defeated. After deciding the point of view or perspective, the next decision is how best to deliver the subject.

 

What is Storytelling?

 

Oral storytelling or sharing cultural histories is ancient. Storytelling is still an excellent 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 in Storytelling

 

I often tell stories in my addiction articles. If they are my story, I write the essay in the first personWriting from this point of view lets the reader into my head; what I was thinking or feeling at the time. Also, 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 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 conveys 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.

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Educational Titles

 

Writing as a teacher can be as simple as creating a title that lets people know they are going to learn something. Click To Tweet

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 What Makes You Qualified

 

Quickly let the reader know why you are the person to help them learn about your post’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 have thousands of followers and others do not.

 

When you write with confidence on the subject, give value-added information, and interject your voice or perspective on the subject, you’ll keep those loyal followers.

How do you include your expertise without 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 senses 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. Click To Tweet

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 Enchant

 

A 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.

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Open Season for Storytellers, Teachers, and Enchanters

 

All 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 play on words is just one example of using phrases to convey information, educate, or engage the reader.

 

Point of View, Perspective, and Personal Posts

 

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 posts 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.

 

Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing

 

 

When you’re ready to tell us a story, educate us, or enchant us, consider a guest post at Two Drops of Ink.

One comment

  1. I like to do all three. Great article on author’s purpose. I remember teaching this to third graders. When I asked them “why are you writing this?” They always said, “Because the teacher is making us.” Not the answer I was looking for. haha. Over time I got the point across.

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