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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: POV

These exercises were written by IWW members and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its members. You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that you found them at the Internet Writers Workshop (http://www.internetwritingworkshop.org/)

Prepared by: Lani Kraus
Posted on: Sun, 4 Feb 2001


Point of view refers to the perspective from which the story is told. In most contemporary fiction, the third-person limited POV is standard. That means that your story will be told, although in third person (he, she, it), only from the perspective of a single character. Your reader can only learn as much as that character knows. For example, if your POV character cannot read the other characters' minds, then you cannot tell the reader what the other characters are thinking.

Your assignment: Write a scene which involves a 30 year-old retarded man and his wealthy, uppity social worker. The social worker is trying to make the man understand the importance of bathing.

Write this first in the male's POV (approx. 300 words) Write the same scene in the social worker's POV (same word count)..

Lani Kraus's wrap-up
Posted on: Sun, 11 Feb 2001

Well, fellow/sister writers,

Great week, and great work. One of the most important things I learned this week is that writing exercises is NOT my strongest suit. :-)

On the other hand, I think we all learned that POV is not clear-cut and simple. If you stick very strictly to "limited third person" POV, you cut short your variability in voice, style, and observed details. If you do not watch that POV, your writing can be jarring and distracting as you waffle from one brain to the next.

Recently, I've been tutoring my daughter in her college English. Basic grammar skills and what-not. We are currently focusing on dependent clauses and how the use of a dependent clause, all by itself is a sentence fragment (as is the use of the appositive phrase I employed as the second sentence of this paragraph.) So Jenny said to me, "But, then, why do I see those sentence fragments all the time when I'm reading?"

Know what the answer is?

If you know the rules, then you can break the rules. If you break the rules because you don't know any better, then your lack of skill will show.

Once we have the POV rules down pat, we can consciously choose to employ all sorts of variations -- and do it with panache.

I hope you all enjoyed this week's exercise.


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Modified by Gayle Surrette.