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Wednesday Writing Prompt: Practicing Point of View and Voice

In honor of National Picture Book Writing Week, today’s prompt uses a favorite picture book of mine: Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne. Several years ago, I attended the summer writing institute, sponsored by the Milwaukee Writing Project. Our teachers used this book to teach us about the use of voice and point of view in our writing.

In Voices in the Park, the author presents the same story four times—about what happened when two families met on a trip to the park. Each telling is narrated in the first person by a different character and reveals his or her unique view of the events. The narratives range from 78 to 166 words. Despite the short length of the stories, the author is able to convey four distinct voices.

Your turn. Take a short scene from your work in progress and write it from four different points of view. Consider:

*What does each character want?

*How does each character convey this want?

*How does the character’s unique desires and point of view affect the story?

*How will you convey the distinct voice of each character?

If you are not a fiction writer, you can do the same thing with a story from your life. Take an ordinary event from your day—such as taking the dog for a walk or eating dinner with your family. Write about the event from each family member’s point of view (including the dog). Use the questions above to help you with your writing.

What do you think? When you are done with the exercise, add a comment about what you learned. Did writing the story from another character’s point of view teach you something? How did you convey voice for each character?

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