One of the coolest things about writing a story is that
you get to pretend you're the god of the world you've
created. You, as writer, get to decide everything. Of
course, you have to make sure you tell your story in
such a way that a reader can understand it and will
want to read through to the end. It has to make sense
and be interesting. A writer has a lot of tricks and
techniques he can use, but one of the most important
tools is "point of view."
Point of view or "POV," as it is often referred to by
writers and editors, refers to the angle from where the
reader sees events or, in other words, the eyes through
which the story's events are experienced. Think of a car
accident, for example. Is the reader "seeing" (meaning
reading and experiencing) the events from the perspective
of someone in one of the two crashing cars, a dog walker
on the sidewalk, or the pedestrian crossing the road who
has to run for his life to get out of the way? The POV
could be even that of an office worker in a nearby
skyscraper who happens to look down as the accident takes
place. What each person sees and feels is going to be
different, and that, in turn, affects the story the reader
So picking your POV character is important. Most often
it will be the main character himself, although you might
choose a secondary person to tell the tale. That is how
many of the Sherlock Holmes stories are told: the famous
detective's good friend, Dr. Watson, acts as the narrator.
A long work like a novel may also have more than one POV
character or shift from one to the other. The Harry Potter
books are written this way. Harry may be the main character,
but sometimes readers see the action through the eyes of
others. In the first instance, having Watson as narrator
helps the story because the reader can identify more with
the normal, good-natured doctor than with the quirky, genius
detective. Knowing everything Holmes is thinking also might
ruin the mystery or plot surprises as he tries to solve a
case. However, in the Potter books, switching viewpoints
from the boy wizard to Lord Voldemort builds suspense. The
reader gets a closer look at what the bad guys are planning
and doing while poor, unsuspecting Harry runs around Hogwarts
with Ron and Hermione.
For beginning writers, the easiest and best solution is to
keep your main character/hero as the focus so that readers
see everything through his eyes. But if it would help your
story, don't be afraid to experiment by throwing in another
viewpoint, perhaps by including a letter written by another
character. To avoid reader confusion, you must clearly
signal you've switched POV. One way is by giving the
second POV character his own chapters, labeled with his name.
Think about your story and who would be the best POV character.
Remember the reader usually identifies with that character.
Notice in the Potter books, switches to the bad guys' POV are
often brief or done through Harry's dreams or thoughts. The
reader keeps getting pulled back to the hero. It is, after
all, his story.
Laura Aldir-Hernandez writes for children and families
in magazines around the country. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and is on Twitter @aldirhernandez.
Always keep writing.
We cover elementary to college teens. Each week we
carry 12 or so opportunities for all ages. Read each
market closely. Some cover a wide range and others
address a very small age group. Always read the directions!
We need guest articles. Have you considered writing a
guest article for WritingKid? Are you a student, a parent,
a teacher? All are eligible. Just make sure the topic
touches upon writing and runs no more than 500-550 words.
Those under 16 receive the book of their choice. Those
over 16 receive $10-$20, depending on the quality of the
piece, the amount of editing required and the obvious
amount of research. Send any submissions to email@example.com and label it SUBMISSION TO
OLD POSSUM CHILDREN'S WRITING COMPETITION http://www.childrenspoetrybookshelf.co.uk/templates/adult/comp_2010.asp
Deadline October 15, 2010. To link with the theme of National
Poetry Day 2010, the Children's Poetry Bookshelf is asking
children aged 7-11 to write a poem on the theme of 'Home'.
Eligible age groups: 7-8 and 9-11. Poems must be no longer
than 25 lines. The winning poems will be published on the
Children's Poetry Bookshelf website and in a booklet, copies
of which will be sent to all the winners. Cash prizes and
book prizes. First prize £250. Second £100. Third £50.
We also have a special International Learners category
specifically for children based outside the UK who are
learning English as a foreign or second language.
NEW VOICES CONTEST http://newvoicesyoungwriters.com/enter.html
One of the leading competitions in the electronic world for
young authors, New Voices encourages reading and writing
among middle and high school students while introducing
them to the exciting world of ebooks and e-publishing, the
wave of the literary future.
This contest is open to students worldwide, attending public,
private, or home schools. Students must be in junior high/
middle school or high school in the U.S., or the equivalent
grade level in their specific international school system.
Categories for entries: Entries may be a story, poem, or
essay, written specifically for the contest or as a school
assignment for grades 6-8 / ages 11 - 14 (Middle School
categories) or grades 9-12 / ages 15 - 18 (High School
categories). The sub-categories are Story (fictional Short
Story), Poetry, and/or Essay (nonfiction). All entries must
be in English. Deadline October 20, 2010.
Our prizes vary from year to year, ranging from an e-book
reader or PDA, gift certificates, and check/money order.
Winners are chosen from each age group (Middle School and
High School) and each category (Essay, Poetry, and Short
NRA CIVIL RIGHTS DEFENSE FUND ESSAY CONTEST http://www.nradefensefund.org/writingcontest.aspx
The NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund (NRACRDF) is once again
sponsoring an essay contest celebrating the Second Amendment
as an integral part of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The theme for the essay is "The Second Amendment to the
Constitution: Why it is important to our nation."
Essays will be judged in two categories: Senior (grades 10-12)
and Junior (grades 9 and below), with separate prizes awarded
to the winners in each category. First prizes are $1,000 in
U.S. Savings Bonds; second prizes, $600 in Savings Bonds;
third prizes, $200 in Savings Bonds; and honorable mention,
$100 in Savings Bonds.
The entry deadline for this contest is December 1, 2010.
Essay contest winners will be selected by the NRACRDF and
notified in early 2011. Winners will have their names
published in InSights, and one of the Official Journals.
THE WRITING CONFERENCE WRITING CONTEST http://www.writingconference.com/contest.htm
For elementary, junior high/middle and high school students.
Students may create a poem, a narrative, or an essay. Only one
piece of writing from a student may be submitted. Each of the
winners in each school level will receive a certificate
commemorating the award. In addition, these winners will have
their writing published in The Writers' Slate. The deadline
for all entries is January 8, 2011.
We are trained for competition from the grade school playgrounds
to the Olympic fields, from the classrooms to the board rooms.
What values from competition are we learning and teaching to
our children? How do our practices of competition influence
the academic, moral, philosophical, and political frame works
of our society? This key word "competition" is your topic.
Use this theme of "Competition" and create a poem, narrative,
or essay in which you incorporate your ideas and feelings
27th RAY BRADBURY CREATIVE CONTEST http://www.waukeganpl.org/programs/bradcontest.html
The Waukegan Public Library is pleased to announce the 27th
Ray Bradbury Contest. The contest will begin on September 1,
2010 and will end on October 8, 2010. This year participants
will be asked to submit an entry based on this year's Ray
Bradbury Storytelling Festival theme: Literary Twists - a
story with a surprise ending. Submissions will be separated
into elementary, middle school, high school and adult
categories: and further separated into Waukegan Resident and
Non-Resident resulting in twenty-four categories. Limit of one
entry per category per individual, and two, double-spaced pages.
Awards range from certificates to $50 in each category.
YOUTH COMMUNICATION MAGAZINE http://www.youthcomm.org/WhoWeAre/FAQ.htm
Any young person 15--20 who lives in New York City is eligible
to write for our magazines. Many writers on New Youth Connections
(NYC), our citywide teen magazine, receive school credit. Most
writers on our foster care magazine (Represent) are volunteers.
In general, writers come to the office 5 to 20 hours per week,
typically for one semester. Writers must have the persistence
to work through five or more drafts of their story, under the
guidance of an adult editor. The majority of articles in both
publications are written by teens who work in our Manhattan
office. However, Represent, as a national magazine, publishes
articles, letters, poetry, and other materials submitted by
foster youth from around the country. In New Youth Connections
we publish stories by teens only. In Represent we occasionally
publish articles by adults.
COUBERTIN OLYMPIC AWARDS STUDENT ESSAY COMPETITION http://www.coubertin-awards.org.uk/index.asp?upid=15&msid=3
The competition takes the form of an essay written by teams
of two to four students on themes involving ethics, business
and sport. There are two prizes available for the competition:
A first prize of £2,000 payable to the winning Student Group;
A second prize of £1,000 payable to the runners up Student Group.
Must be in English. Cannot exceed 3,500 words. Deadline March
30, 2011. Open to any full or part time student at a UK
university studying on an undergraduate or post-graduate course.
FRED PERRY TELL US YOUR STORY http://www.fredperrytellusyourstory.com/
Fred Perry has a unique and unrivalled street heritage.
Our latest campaign brings the untold stories of the original
Fred Perry shirt to life. How the Mod's adopted the shirt,
where the famous 'Tipping' originated and who the 'Perry Boys'
were. Read our stories and see how you can submit your own
stories. We would love to see your photos and memories of
a true fashion classic - with some great prizes to be won.
This is your chance to submit your photo and story to become
part of Fred Perry's unique heritage. There are some great
prizes on offer - including £5,000 for the best story - 3
runner up prizes of £250 to spend at fredperry.com. Each
month we will be giving away a free Fred Perry shirt for
the 'Featured Story of the Month'.
We are looking for your Fred Perry photos/videos from the 1950's
to the present day. To put the images or video in context,
we are asking you to write a few short words on how you came
to take the picture or video. This will be a maximum of 250
words, but can just be a few lines. The combination of the
image, and how interesting the background story is, will
form part of the final judging process. Deadline December
THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S UNDERGRADUATE ESSAY COMPETITION http://www.cefa.org.au/content/category/5/17/44/
The Governor-General's Undergraduate Essay Competition is
Australia's most prestigious civics essay competition. It is
open to Australian undergraduate students studying in all
faculties at universities across Australia and includes
questions that are related to law, politics and history.
This is the 7th year of the Competition, which awards up
to $33,000 in cash prizes annually. The 2010 competition
questions have now been released. The 2010 competition will
close on Friday, December 17, 2010 at 5pm AEST.
LAFANGO 2010 "BEYOND OIL" COLLEGE ESSAY CONTEST http://lafango.com/gogreen-essay-contest
Any student enrolled at an accredited undergraduate institution
may enter the contest for a chance to win. The subject of the
essay will be: "What is a viable alternative to fossil fuels?"
For this contest, each student will be required to submit an
essay between 800 and 1,500 words to their Lafango account.
Lafango is free to join and use. Most importantly, all Lafango
users are protected by a Creative Commons license. Put simply,
students retain individual ownership of their submitted material,
and only give us permission to post their work to a public forum.
Naturally, written material on Lafango cannot be printed or
simply downloaded. Deadline December 1, 2010.
Contact WritingKid (the Business Stuff)
FundsforWriters/Writing Kid make no warranty as to the
accuracy of the contests, awards, etc. but we do try to
check them out in advance to the best of our ability.