Writing perspective, also known as point of view, concerns the method by which an author chooses to convey his text. There are three writing perspectives: first person, second person and third person. Each affects the tone and message of the text and how the reader perceives the writing. Accordingly, it is important for an author to familiarize himself with all three perspectives so that he can choose the point of view that works best.
First person is the most personal of the three writing perspectives. This perspective is written from the writer’s point of view and is often used to convey a personal experience. Accordingly, the writer uses the pronouns “I,” “me,” “us,” “my” and “we” when writing a first person text. The use of first person point of view makes the writing seem more conversational and natural in tone.
Writing in second person entails using language that addresses the reader. Accordingly, second person texts often use the term “you” to engage the reader and involve her in the narrative. Authors are more prone to using active and direct language when writing in the second person. This style of writing is often used in advertising and marketing campaigns and instructional writings.
Third person is the most authoritative and objective of the three writing perspectives. Third person is not written from the author or reader’s point of view but instead from that of a third person like a narrator. This writing perspective is also referred to as the omniscient point of view as the narrator takes on a god-like, all-knowing quality. He knows all there is to know about the characters and helps the reader understand the characters and the story. An author writing in third person will use pronouns such as “he,” “she,” “they” and “it” in the text. This writing perspective is often used in texts where the goal is to report information such as newspapers, reports and scholarly texts. It is also the usual point of view when the writing is a business communication. Maintaining third person perspective throughout a text can prove difficult. The writer may resort to using a passive voice and distant tone can leave the reader feeling detached from the text.
Using the Perspectives
An author should select his point of view based upon the message he is attempting to convey, the type of reader he is addressing and the type of text he is writing. It is important for an author to choose one writing perspective and continue the same perspective throughout the text. Switching perspectives throughout the text runs the risk of confusing and distracting the reader.