Friday, October 27, 2006

What's Your Point of View?

All writing has a point of view. Should you write yours in first person, second person, or third person? Choose the one that suits the circumstances -- especially your role in the circumstances. Once you make your choice, stick with it. Don't shift from one point of view to another.

First Person

You can tell your story from your point of view, using the personal pronoun I, when your role in the circumstances is crucial or will help clarify your message. If you choose first person, let your readers see the I point of view as soon as possible, preferably in the first paragraph. Readers are more comfortable, more receptive, then they can determine a writer's point of view at the outset.

Second Person

Choose the second-person point of view when you want to talk directly to your readers, when you want to address them as you. Use this point of new in sales letters, proposals, and other kinds of persuasive or descriptive writing when you want to create a sincere, informal atmosphere. What you are reading now, for example, is written in second person. It establishes (I hope) a kind of face-to-face, informal relationship between you and me.

Third Person

Choose third person when you want to focus on the what rather than on the who, when you want to be as objective as possible. Third person is the most common point of view in business writing because people on the job are usually writing more about situations and circumstances than they are about themselves or other people. When you write in third person, do not refer to yourself as you would in first person, and do not "talk" to the reader as you would in second person.

Point of View and Persuasion

When you set out to persuade readers to take some form of action, they will be listening for the sound of their own wants. They will be scrutinizing your message for anything that will give them reason for going along. You must therefore avoid the I-me-we syndrome, and put the emphasis on you and your. A message that begins with Your business will benefit from is more persuasive than one that starts with Our service will help you....

Legal Implications

Finally, if your company has legal representatives or contract administrators, ask them to explain how point of view is related to commitment in correspondence, or in any kind of writing where first, second, or third person may or may not imply a personal or organizational commitment.



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