ENG210: Week 9

Point of View

This week we explore point of view and focalization in writing.

Steps to Follow

Step 1: Read the Week 9 notes below
Step 2: Listen to Lecture 4 Point of view and focalization (accessed from Resource CD-ROM 1)
Step 3: Do the Readings for this week. There are many extracts. Read them and identify how the writer creates point of view.
Step 4: Complete the Writing Exercises for this week. These include exercises from Kate-Grenville’s The Writing Book, on point of view, detailed in the Readings

Notes

In writing there is always a bias or point of view. This can be used to control the narrative, or to manipulate the reader’s response. Writing from a point of view of a character, or several characters, requires the writer to imagine the consciousness of the character, the possibility of writing from a point of view that is not immediately your own. Allow the creative process and your imagination to experiment with different points of view.

Use first person or third person, third allowing you more freedom to move outside your own “I” narration. Second person “you” directly confronts the reader – see the Kim Scott example, and Phaswane Mpe, in the readings to examine one use of this technique.

The readings cover a range of points of view.

  • Read these and identify the point(s) of view, or focalization, used by the writer.
  • Notice that point of view can switch often in a text. How is point of view created and managed in these texts?

(Focalization = the position from which the story is told to the reader at any given point of time in the text; the lens through which the reader receives it.)

Readings

Grenville, Kate. “Point of view” in The Writing Book: A Workbook for Fiction Writers, Grenville, Kate, 1990, 59-74

Le Guin, Ursula K. “Changing point of view and voice: Virginia Woolf: From To The Lighthouse (extract)” in Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator, Le Guin, Ursula K., 1998, 110-112

Short extracts from longer texts, and stories, provide examples of different applications of point of view and focalization:

Goldsworthy, Peter. “Extract” in Maestro , Goldsworthy, Peter , 1989, 4-5

Drewe, Robert. “The view from the Sandhills (extract)” in The Bodysurfers, Drewe, Robert, 2001, 88-89

Scott, Kim. “First thing, welcome” in True Country, Scott, Kim, 1993, 13-14

Mpe, Phaswane. “extract” in Welcome to Our Hillbrow , Mpe, Phaswane , 2001 , 1-4

Bird, Carmel. “Goczka” in Transgression: Australian Writing Now, Anderson, Don, 1986, 150-154

Hodge, Merle. “Inez” in The Faber Book of Contemporary Caribbean Short Stories , Morris, Mervyn , 1990 , 81-85

* First read these works and identify the point(s) of view, or focalization, used by the writer.

* Notice that point of view can switch often in a text.  How is point of view created and managed in these texts?

(Focalization = the position from which the story is told to the reader at any given point of time in the text; the lens through which the reader receives it).

Writing Exercises

Do one or more of the following:

1. Create a narrative in which an incident is narrated through the points of view of two or more characters or speaking positions:

or in which the narrator is a different gender to yourself,

or in which the narrator is a child,

or in which you use a shifting point of view (see the Virginia Woolf example – accessed through e-Reserve).

This task requires you to consider the world inhabited by your narrator(s) as well as their subjectivity.  You may think in terms of writing a dramatic monologue. It’s a challenging task. Take the time to make it as convincing as possible.

2. Kate Grenville, The Writing Book: A workbook for fiction writers, Chapter 4 “Point of View”. Read the chapter and do the exercises. You may submit writing that results from these for this topic for your workshop, or develop it for an assessment task.

3. Art works or newspaper stories can provide ideas and stimulus triggers for writing incidents through different points of view.

The Art Gallery of New South Wales http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/

Museum of Modern Art, NY http://www.metmuseum.org/

The Sydney Morning Herald http://www.smh.com.au

The Australian http://www.news.com.au/

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