Nine Voices, Nine Movies
Each of us speaks and writes without thinking. This is why so much of what we say is predictable. Do you want to be more interesting? Choose an unusual perspective and verb tense. A movie begins in the mind of the listener every time you speak or write. At whom is your camera aimed?
First Person perspective: “I, me, my, we, us, our.”
The person speaking is the star of the movie.
Second Person perspective: “you, your”
The person listening is the star of the movie.
Third Person perspective: “He, she, him, her, it, they, them”
A person other than the speaker or the listener is the star of the movie.
After you’ve chosen your star, you must decide upon the action. The verbs you use will be past tense, present tense or future tense. You should choose these verbs consciously, rather than unconsciously.
Past tense verbs speak of history.
Present tense verbs speak of action as it’s happening, play-by-play.
Future tense verbs are predictive.
Any story can be told with past tense, present tense or future tense verbs.
It was the night before Christmas, and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
It is the night before Christmas, and all through the house not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse.
It will be the night before Christmas, and all through the house not a creature will stir, not even a mouse.
Now let’s look at 9 different movies produced from a single script by using 3 different actors in each of 3 separate timelines.
1. I placed my paws in warm water and shivered.
(First person, past tense. Personal historical narrative.)
2. You placed my paws in warm water and I shivered.
(Second Person, past tense. An historical story about the listener.)
3. She placed my paws in warm water and I shivered.
(Third person, past tense. An historical story that describes the actions of a person that is neither the speaker nor the listener)
4. I place my paws in warm water and shiver.
(First person, present tense. I’m doing it right now.)
5. You place my paws in warm water and I shiver.
(Second person, present tense. The speaker describes what the listener is doing as it is happening.)
6. She places my paws in warm water and I shiver.
(Third person, present tense. The speaker is describing what someone else is doing as it is happening.)
7. I will place my paws in warm water and shiver.
(First person, future tense. Predictive of the speaker’s future action.)
8. You will place my paws in warm water and I will shiver.
(Second person, future tense. A story about what the listener will do in the future. This voice is predictive or prophetic.)
9. She will place my paws in warm water and I will shiver.
(Third person, future tense. A story about the actions of others that have not yet occurred. Again, predictive or prophetic.)
The voice of any story is transformed when you change the actor and timeline.
You have seen the 9 movies and heard the 9 voices.
You have been forever changed. You are different now. You carry magic.
You will speak with authority and people will listen.
That is my benediction, crafted in the second person, traveling through your past (2 sentences) and your present (2 sentences) and seeing your future (1 sentence) in 5 easy lines.
That last sentence, of course, was entirely present tense: confirming my present… to you.
substituting for the Wizard of Ads who is on a short sabbatical
In this age of cell phone cameras and selfies,
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His company, Snapden, is happily proving that the photo booth business is alive and healthy. Thanks to snappy design improvements and greater mobility, his Snapden photo booths are popping up everywhere from the dentist’s office to punk rock concerts. Listen in as Kalvis gives us a close-up snapshot into what he’s doing and how he’s doing it, at MondayMorningRadio.com
(Juanarajs rhymes with Donna Rice. It’s pronounced Yawna Rice.)