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Telling the Story from the Narrator's Point of View
I want to celebrate what brave writers you are -you have been taking risks each time you put your pencil to the paper.
I think you are starting to realize, as you make decisions about which small moments to choose as topics for your personal narratives, that there is a payoff in those moments of strong emotion and struggle and profound realization. It's not always easy to revisit those kinds of tense life moments, but you are figuring out that it is worth it. This too makes you brave.
This makes me think it's time to increase the level of that work so that your drafts get better and better.
As writers of true stories, you already know how important it is to write from inside the story moment, telling the story as it unfolds, but today I want to teach you that writers are especially careful about telling the details of the story exactly the way the narrator perceived them at the moment.
Teaching: Point of View
What is it?
It is the way the narrator tells the story through his or her eyes and other senses.
Details in the scene need to be the ones that the narrator notices-or they do not belong there.
Two different small moments from 2 different narrators.
I was still at the changing table, my sister squirming beneath me, when my dad put the box on the kitchen table and then, peeling off a long strip of tape and pulling back one of the flaps, looked in on a jumble of family photos, with little photo albums scattered throughout. The photos showed me and my sister when we were little-they were the ones he'd lost.
This is not possible!
It helps the readers if the narrator tells the story exactly the same way he or she experienced it.
I was at the changing table, my sister squirming beneath me, when my Dad came into the kitchen and dropped a heavy carton on the kitchen table. I heard him rustling about, and then I heard him mutter, "Unbelievable, just unbelievable." He looked up from across the room and called, "Remember all those lost photos from our farm? They're all here!"
Do you see the major adjustment the writer made in the second version?
Only the father could reveal the contents of the box!
Let's practice noticing when a writer slips out of his or her perspective by mistake.
If the writer is consistent in their point of view.
If the writer falls out of their point of view
I made my way slowly toward the front of the line, as one by one, kids in soggy bathing suits sat at the edge of the water slide before disappearing suddenly down the chute. I was next in line and the thumping in my heart was almost audible. "I can do this," I thought to myself. I took one step forward...
Is the writer still in the story or have they fallen out?
Soon I was at the edge of the slide. I leaned forward just enough to peer down below at the small, blue rectangle of a pool dotted with the heads of swimmers below. I shut my eyes quickly, dizzied from the height.
In or out of story?
I carefully sat down, feeling the cold rush of water beneath me. My hands gripped the edges of the slide. "Ready?" the attendant asked. "I think so, " I replied, still unsure.
Still in or not?
My cousin waited at the bottom wondering what was taking me so long.
Remember to maintain your narrator point of view as you write today's small moment story.
This is Kei's writing and he noticed some details that just didn't ring true. He was rereading the narrative he wrote about when his dog Jamp swallowed a sewing needle. He wasn't just reading he was SELF-ASSESSING, asking himself...
Are these all details I really would have noticed right then, in that moment?
Read along with me and see if the details make sense.
Turn and talk, what do you think?
Point out what Kei couldn't of known...Kei tried to remember where he was and where Jamp was and what happened step by step. Then, he wrote that scene again. Take a look.
Do you see how, this time around, Kei manages to keep his story on track? His details put you right into this world, and they work well because they sound like the true details that he would have noticed in that moment.
Share your writing and talk about where your sensory details ring true and don't ring true.
Editing as you write. This means that even as your draft in your notebook, you are always looking back over your writing and asking, am I using the best spelling, punctuation, grammar to make my writing as readable as possible?
Tonight move forward with your personal narrative or begin a new one, but you will also make time to look over your prior drafts and do some editing.
Here is a check list to help you.