1st & 2nd Person for the Purpose of my Re-purposing

Master McDaniel tasked our class with writing a paragraph-long summary of intent for our to-be-re-purposed piece, first in the 1st and 2nd person, and then translate that into the 3rd person. This was, no doubt, a challenge. The original paragraph flowed from my mind with relative ease. That is, it’s quite natural for me to convey MY intent to YOU when I can say I and YOU. Conversely, this is very difficult when I cannot.

1st and 2nd person discourse tend to be a default, I believe. The 3rd person point of view seems to me to be the odd man out. I think it’s natural to invoke one’s self in one’s discourse and I think it’s just as natural to invoke the 2nd person ‘you’ in one’s discourse because this directly addresses a reader, which–presumably–there is. However, writing in the 3rd person almost feels like very deliberately NOT writing in 1st/2nd person. This belief is backed up by the numerous writing prompts we’ve received since forever-ago, in which the instructor blatantly stipulates that we NOT include ‘I’ or ‘you’ in the paper. To this day, I have never been able to decode a rhyme or reason for this rule. I do appreciate, though, that the 3rd person tone has its place (mostly in the academic world), but I don’t see it as an entity that must be severed completely from the go-to 1st/2nd person tone.

My greatest difficulty with embracing the 3rd person POV alone was avoiding boilerplate. It’s comparatively quite easy to keep things nuanced whilst invoking one’s self in the discourse. In other words, I can assert my ethos in the frame of 1st person writing and, with that, I can back up my claims with personal experience, instead of making risky generalizations, which rely on universal assumptions. These generalizations can almost always be picked apart with relative ease.

My re-purposing intent is to directly enlist an emotional response amongst my desired audience, which is ill-prepared college prospects. Inherently, the 3rd person POV would not make sense for this piece, which will rely both on my personal experiences and the direct address (in the 2nd person) of my audience.

One thought to “1st & 2nd Person for the Purpose of my Re-purposing”

  1. Hi there!

    You brought up a very great point that resonates with me regarding this assignment. I too struggled more with the third person POV, however I did not even think about the connection of boilerplate. This is an extremely valid point, as I see how this type of speech could lead to cliches and generalizations that could hurt your argument! When I discussed my struggles with the third person POV in relation to writing a personal memoir, I discussed how the second paragraph made me feel like a know-it-all, and I believe it is because of exactly what you mentioned. I was unable to back up what I was saying with my personal examples (the point of a memoir) ones that could be taken with a grain of salt considering it is my own experience. Thank you for making that connection to boilerplate, for it helps me to conceptualize the ways in which general claims without connections to experiences can not only come off as slightly arrogant, but also can be boilerplate.

    -Carly

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