The Importance of Perspective

by TacocaT

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What is it?

Perspective is the viewpoint of the story. How you read through it. I, you, he, that kind of thing.

First Person: First person is the use of words such as I, me, my, myself. Basically telling the story like you would if you were saying you did it. This is the trickiest (in my opinion) perspective to use.

Second Person: Second person is the use of words such as you, yourself. Basically telling the story like you would if were talking to the person. This is the most common perspective in Choose your own adventure stories. It is also the worst (again, in my opinion) perspective to ever use.

Third person: Third person is the use of words such as a specific name, like 'Tom' when referring to yourself or someone else, and other words like he, she, it, her, him, and several others. Basically telling the story like you would if you were talking about someone else, perhaps an ancient warriors. This has the widest variety of words to use.

Can you give me an example of how they're used?

Sure. Kinda rough with the second person, but it'll do I suppose. Here you go:

1st:

I ran. My heart pounded in my chest rapidly. Ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-dum. With legs sore from doing chores like any other 'normal' folk only hours earlier, and lungs almost bursting trying to get enough oxygen to keep everything working, I ran for my life. It was going to be a very short life.

2nd:

You laughed all night yesterday. Hiccuping up a storm, you were. Could hardly believe it yourself when they gave you the bill. A hundred bucks for only thirteen mugs of beer!

3rd:

He could feel the power coursing through his veins. Oh how wonderful it felt! Closing his eyes, he arched his back, facing the sky. It was a deep black, an endless black, a hellish black, housing the demons that gave him such power. The demons cursed at him, they screamed, they struggled, but it was all futile as he drained away their very life force. Not even God could compare to him now. He cackled, and at a single twitch of his hand, all grew still.

So, why exactly is this important? I mean, how would this effect my writing at all? I don't see much of a difference between the perspectives besides different sets of words.

First Person has a fine line between the best perspective you could work with, and the worst. If used correctly, it can be a powerful way to bring emotion and flow to your writing, but it is extremely hard.

You simply cannot start all your sentences with 'I did this; I did that; I made a big mistake in picking my perspective.' That is one of the flaws with First person, those little 'I's sneak into just about everywhere and shove their way up front to make a nuisance of themselves.

But, if you get around that, and make it a habit not to start anything with the same word as you started the last couple sentences with, then first person can be your best friend in writing. It is built mainly for letting the reader know only what the character knows, making the reader feel what the character feels, adding to the mystery and horror of a story, or make it more touching and loving.

I would recommend First person for experienced writers who focus more on conveying emotion in their writting.

Second Person

Second Person seems to be a bit of a fail perspective, most of the time, when in regular stories, because it tries to get the reader/listener of the story more engaged in the action, but usually it gets push it too hard and it just falls apart. In CYOA stories, this is a quite common perspective to use, and it does seem to work out most of the time since it fits the idea of you (<-Italics) choosing your (<-Italics) adventure. It has the same problem as first person though, and I can see no other advantages to using it besides the one listed above.

I personally would recommend it to only experienced writers for CYOA if they want to, but then again, there are several successful stories where it's their fist game and they are young but the story is still a 6/8 or higher, so I'm not sure.

Third Person is one of the easiest perspectives to use and keep the story flowing, as long as you don't confuse people with 'he did this and then he did that while he did this other thing' - and talking about three different people instead of one.

Third person tends to generalize things more, it give more insight to the reader or hides certain things about the character. It can be used for mystery, or it could tell you about things that are far away from the character, about things the character doesn't know.

I would recommend Third Person for anyone who wants to use it, and want to focus more on playing with the reader a bit to leave them wondering about this, or anticipate that.

Okay. Is there anything I need to avoid doing with writing the perspectives?

Don't blend perspectives. It never works out. Just don't do it.