Narrative point of view

First Person Narrator Third Person Narrator Omniscient Narrator

Own thoughts. Through the eyes of one of the main characters in the story.

One specific character’s point of view revealed. As if somebody has reported events that have happened.

Not a character in the story – they can reveal the thoughts and feelings of all characters.

Pronouns:
I, me, my, mine

Pronouns:
he, she, they

Pronouns:
he, she, they

Remind your pupils of the Goldilocks and the Three Bears fairy tale.

Give them, or ask them to choose, one of the following characters.

  1. Goldilocks;
  2. Mr Badger – a friend of the bears; or
  3. Goldilocks’ Granny.

Encourage your pupils to hot-seat the characters about their involvement in the story, highlighting the different types of narrative points of view.  Encourage them to think about their character’s thoughts, feeling and emotions. What is their involvement in the fairy tale?  Ask your pupils to retell a section of the fairy story from their character’s point of view, for example one of the bears who has had their porridge stolen.

Ask your pupils, in groups of three, to retell the Goldilocks story. Ask one of the group to tell the story from the point of view of Goldilocks, one from the point of view of the baby bear, and one from the point of view of Papa Bear.

Ask one pupil to begin to tell the story, continuing until you or another pupil stops them. At this point, the second pupil in the group picks up the story from their new perspective. Repeat until the story is finished. At the end of the exercise, ask each character to explain their feelings about the situation at the end of the story.

First person

Writing in the First Person

A story written in the first person, is written from the point of view of the character telling the story. Although this reveals the thoughts of this character very clearly, the reader has no first-hand knowledge of what others in the story are thinking. The passage below is written in the first person from Dr Watson’s point of view.

The Adventure of The Speckled Band extract 89 KB - uploaded 08-11-2017

Third person

Writing in the Third Person

Writing in the third person is about reporting what is happening – as an outsider looking in. A reader has no idea what any of the characters are thinking – it is all guesswork. The extract below starts in the third person with a description of a boy called Ralph who is on a beach.

[Writing in the third person - Lord of the Flies extract]

Omniscient narrator

Writing as an Omniscient narrator

The omniscient narrator is not a character in the story. They can reveal the thoughts and feelings of all characters. As the story in Lord of the Flies continues the narrative technique begins to change from third person narrative to omniscient narration.  Here the reader is drawn into Ralph’s thoughts and feelings.

[Omniscient narrator - Lord of the Flies extract]

Ask your pupils to rewrite the extracts from Lord of the Flies in the first person, as if they were Ralph.

Ask your pupils to rewrite the extract from The Adventure of The Speckled Band extract from the point of view of an omniscient narrator.

Encourage your pupils to discuss which technique they prefer. Ask them to produce a narrative point of view poster, presentation or guide book. This could provide opportunities for Using ICT for presentation.

You could also ask your pupils to choose incidents from sports or popular culture, where there has been some form of controversy, for example Thierry Henry’s ‘Hand of Frog’. Encourage them to select different perspectives and retell the story from those other viewpoints.

You could also use The Three Pigs story from the Literacy Shed website to explore this further.

AFL opportunity