The University of Iowa

Beyond First and Third: Mastering Point of View in Any Genre

Weekend June 20 to June 21 2020

Although it is often overlooked or taken for granted, point of view is perhaps the single most important technique that an author can master in order to excel in writing of any kind. This workshop will explore the various techniques of perspective and the creation of a narrative voice, as well as the influence that these decisions have on all literary forms, including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Through brief in-class readings from such authors as John Gardner, Raymond Chandler, Toni Morrison, Marguerite Duras, and more, we will survey the wide range of choices each genre offers in establishing a narrator, including first, second, and third persons, as well as omniscient versus limited, distant versus close, singular versus plural, and reliable versus unreliable. After discussing the implications that these choices have on style, voice, and form, students will also receive in-class prompts in which they will get to explore assorted points of view, walking out with strategies for how to continue to explore those possibilities further on their own.


In this workshop, we will generate new writing through exercises and assignments.

All Genres