Experimentation in the Perspective Lab

In the name of science, I decided to take the same section of EGtSV and post it in third person and first person. This piece comes from when creative writing class begins. Class introductions devolved into a debate on Wikipedia for a short moment. (Some of the quotation marks look different because they were typed here on wordpress rather than in Word.)

Version 1: Third Person Limited

“I like using it when I can,” Sadie surprised herself by saying.

“Sadie Thomas,” Mrs. Carlson said. “I was wondering when I’d first hear your voice. You’re the enigma of our class.”

Sadie didn’t answer. Mrs. Carlson sighed. “Your silence now is about the only predictable thing anyone could tell me and one I already knew from our previous acquaintance.”

“You mean the teacher’s didn’t provide you with any information on Sadie from their secret files?” Chance asked.

“The secret files, which should not be named, contained much about Sadie Thomas. However, they contained only dates, titles, and grade numbers. Nothing quite so revealing as your seductive zombie predilection.”

Sadie squirmed. While she didn’t want any more attention from the center of the room, she also didn’t want her teachers to know nothing more than her grades. Had they all really not told Mrs. Carlson anything new about her? Was she that forgettable?

“Did no one tell you about Sadie’s writing?” Nigel asked.

“What do you know of Sadie’s writing?”

Nigel glanced at the other band students. “She writes frequently.”

“You’ve known her for eight years and that’s all you can tell me?”

“She likes it a lot,” Chance added, rather uselessly. “She makes good suggestions and stuff. Even if she hates zombies.”

“I don’t hate zombies,” Sadie interjected. “I just don’t like what yours do most of the time.” She ducked her head, wishing she’d worn a bandanna that day. She could’ve pulled it over her face.

Version 2: First person

“I like using it when I can.” Desks creaked as people turned to look at me. Did I actually say that? I’d meant to think it. I ducked my head and tried to memorize the graffiti on my desk.

“Sadie Thomas,” Mrs. Carlson said. “I was wondering when I’d first hear your voice. You’re the enigma of our class.”

I didn’t answer. I knew what she was trying to do, but it wasn’t going to work any better know than freshman year. Mrs. Carlson sighed. “Your silence now is about the only predictable thing anyone could tell me and one I already knew from our previous acquaintance.”

“You mean the teacher’s didn’t provide you with any information on Sadie from their secret files?” Chance asked.

I swallowed. Why couldn’t Chance keep quiet? Mrs. Carlson would’ve moved on with the roll call. Now she was going to make an issue out of it. Secret files? The teachers didn’t have time for that. Did they?

“The secret files, which should not be named, contained much about Sadie Thomas. However, they contained only dates, titles, and grade numbers. Nothing quite so revealing as your seductive zombie predilection.”

My insides squirmed. I looked up at Mrs. Carlson for a moment. I didn’t want everyone’s attention, but did the teachers really know nothing about me than my grades? That made me forgettable. Why did that sting? It shouldn’t. I like avoiding attention. It’s less painful. Then why did I ache?

“Did no one tell you about Sadie’s writing?” Nigel asked.

“What do you know of Sadie’s writing?”

What would he have to say to that? Something profound on the immaturity of my middle school writing I would guess.

Nigel glanced at the other band students. “She writes frequently.”

Or something not so profound. At least it was true?

“You’ve known her for eight years and that’s all you can tell me?”

“She likes it a lot,” Chance added, rather uselessly. “She makes good suggestions and stuff. Even if she hates zombies.”

“I don’t hate zombies,” I said, louder than I intended. Chance was making this worse. Again. “I just don’t like what yours do most of the time.” I put my head down. Why hadn’t I worn my bandanna? Then I could cover my eyes.

*********

Thoughts?

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3 thoughts on “Experimentation in the Perspective Lab

  1. ngjuliana

    I found it interesting to see what you left out/what you included when you moved from one version to the other. For instance, you could have started the third limited POV closer to the first person; a tighter third limited:

    ***
    “I like using it when I can.” Desks creaked as people turned to look at Sadie. Did she actually say that? She’d meant to think it. She ducked her head and tried to memorize the graffiti on her desk.
    ***

    But you went with (or vice versa):

    ***
    “I like using it when I can,” Sadie surprised herself by saying.
    ***

    Not saying one or the other is wrong/right, but I just find it intriguing how we come about our word choices. ^.^

    • Word choices are interesting.

      The third person version is older, which is one reason there is no memorizing of graffiti in it.

      Was there one that felt more natural to you?

  2. scribbles

    I don’t think I’m the right person to ask on POV choices; I have a prejudice against first POV.

    That said, I found first person more engaging–but were rewritten in third person limited (with all the extra perspective), I could easily prefer the third limited.

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