Author Archives: T. P. Jagger

Second-person Point of View

You’re reading a book. You’re minding your own business. But you don’t see it coming, until . . .

WHAM!

Second-person point of view smacks you upside the head and you realize you are in the story!

1st-person Point of View:

In middle-grade, tons of authors use first-person POV. A character in the story acts as the narrator, telling about his or her own experiences.

I learned something on the first day of fifth grade—never mess with a girl who can break 1-inch boards with her elbow.

3rd-person Point of View:

Third-person POV is also popular, using an outside narrator to tell what happens to the characters.

Kaylie knew it was going be a rough day when she woke up with a chicken standing on her forehead. And she knew it was going to be a really rough day once the chicken started pecking.

2nd-person Point of View:

So . . . how about second-person POV, where the author acts like the reader is a part of the action? Well, there’s not much out there.

When you ran away, the toughest thing about using a bus was all the waiting.

Second-person POV got stuck in my head recently (a scary place to be!) because I was reading Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger. From chapter to chapter, Stead used alternating viewpoints throughout the novel, with one of the viewpoints written entirely in second-person. I found the POV to be both surprising and refreshing!

Goodbye Stranger


And, of course, this got me thinking: What other middle-grade books are written in second-person point of view?

Choose Your Own Adventure

As this question percolated, my first thought was a blast from my childhood past—the Choose Your Own Adventure series.


Then I thought of an ongoing nonfiction series that I’ve found many middle-grade students really enjoy—the You Wouldn’t Want to . . . series.

You Wouldn't Want To-1 You Wouldn't Want To-2


And then . . .

Nothing.

That was it.

One middle-grade novel, a nonfiction series, and then a fiction series first published when I was still in elementary school. (And let me tell you—that whole in-elementary-school thing was a few decades ago.)

Now I’ll admit—there are plenty of middle-grade books that occasionally address the reader directly (such as Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt). There just aren’t many that fully immerse the reader in that viewpoint. So . . .

Know of any other middle-grade books where the author uses second-person POV to put you into the story? If so, you can post in the comments below.


T. P. Jagger The 3-Minute Writing TeacherAlong with his MUF posts, T. P. Jagger can be found at www.tpjagger.com, where he provides brief how-to writing-tip videos as The 3-Minute Writing Teacher plus original, free readers’ theater scripts for middle-grade teachers. He also has even more readers’ theater scripts available at Readers’ Theater Fast and Funny Fluency. For T. P.’s 10-lesson, video-based creative writing course, check him out on Curious.com.

Writing (& Teaching) Setting-specific Story Details

If you’re a writer and/or teacher, you may be feeling the MUF-love emanating from your screen right now. That’s because today’s post about writing using setting-specific details is in your honor. Yep, it’s all for you. And for your readers. And for your students. And maybe even for your labradoodle named Cocoa who was briefly abducted by aliens and now spends his days pawing at a MacBook, composing original similes.

As a writer and a teacher, I love to explore and teach about the gloriously complex world of writing. I’m always learning something new and trying to improve my own writing craft. That’s what made me decide it was time to revisit my teaching roots and share something I’ve been working on in my own writing. And I brought J. K. Rowling along to help!

(Well, okay, that J. K. Rowling thing may almost, maybe, kind of be a lie. But I use a brief excerpt from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. And I allow my voice to climb toward falsetto as I do a very poor imitation of Professor McGonagall. So it’s pretty much like J. K. Rowling personally created this MUF post. Except she really didn’t. But I still couldn’t have done it without her.)

Anyway, enough parenthetical rambling! For today’s post you don’t need to do much reading. Instead, you can kick back with your Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (or other favorite beverage), click the video below, and spend 3 minutes learning how setting-specific details strengthen a story and make it more believable.

If you’re a writer, I hope the video will give you something to think about in your own writing. If you’re a teacher, maybe you can use the video as a springboard to a writing lesson with your students. And if you’re neither a writer nor a teacher? . . . Well, maybe Cocoa the labradoodle will enjoy the brief respite from composing all of those similes.

Writing & Creating Story Setting with Specific Details

Have any favorite books or series where the author brings the setting alive? Any great examples of rich, setting-specific details from a book you’ve read? Feel free to post in the comments below.


T. P. Jagger The 3-Minute Writing TeacherAlong with his MUF posts, T. P. Jagger can be found at www.tpjagger.com, where he provides brief how-to writing-tip videos as The 3-Minute Writing Teacher plus original readers’ theatre scripts for middle-grade teachers. He also has a 10-lesson, video-based creative writing course available at Curious.com.

A Retrospective MUFiversary

As I psyched up for another MUF post, I decided to take a glance back at my previous posts, hoping to find some form of inspiration awaiting me. Surprisingly, it actually worked. And it’s all because of how I name my computer files.

You see, whenever I hammer out a MUF post and save it to my computer, I name the file by starting with the year-month-day date. So when I went to sift through my old posts, the very first file caught my eye: “2012-7-20…”

July 2012. . . .

July 2015. . . .

This month is my triple MUFiversary!

I’m a bit of an expert on anniversaries. In fact, I’ve been forgetting them until the last minute for 20 years. (Though I made up for it just last month when my wife and I celebrated our 20th anniversary via some mutual de-bucket-listing and jumped out of an airplane while 13,000 feet above the ground. She made me go first. But I’ve forgiven her.)

Anyway, the important anniversaries don’t stop there! Digging still deeper into my anniversary theme, I realized this is the 5th year for MUF, which was launched in 2010. So . . . with my wife and me celebrating 20 years of marriage, MUF celebrating its 5th MUFiversary, and my personal celebration of three years of MUFhood, I decided to weave those three anniversaries together and see what I got.

The result? . . . A 20 year journey back through the world of children’s publishing, using a series of 5-year leaps, with each leap including three if-you-haven’t-read-these-you-really-need-to books.

5 YEARS AGO (2010):

  1. BECAUSE OF MR. TERUPT by Rob Buyea. The story shifts between seven different narrators—each providing a unique voice and perspective as the story unfolds.
  2. OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon Draper. The main character can’t walk. She can’t talk. But she has a brilliant mind that refuses to stay hidden.
  3. Moon Over ManifestMOON OVER MANIFEST by Clare Vanderpool. I don’t read much historical fiction—I’m more of a contemporary-fiction guy. But I made an exception for this debut historical novel. And I’m sure glad I did.

10 YEARS AGO (2005):

  1. THE PENULTIMATE PERIL by Lemony Snicket. The 12th (and penultimate) novel in the 13-book Series of Unfortunate Events. Who knew having the narrator constantly defining words for the reader could be so much fun?
  2. HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE by J. K. Rowling. Another penultimate story that finally confirmed it—Severus Snape was clearly a bad guy. . . . Wasn’t he?
  3. The Lightning ThiefTHE LIGHTNING THIEF by Rick Riordan. Yeah, another series book (but not the penultimate one). This middle-grade novel kicks off the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, which my 13-year-old daughter has read approximately 23.5 million times.

15 YEARS AGO (2000):

  1. STARGIRL by Jerry Spinelli. Not to brag or anything, but I’ve got a signed copy of Stargirl on my bookshelf. A. Signed. Copy. You may now be jealous. But don’t overdo it.
  2. Because of Winn-DixieBECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE by Kate DiCamillo. How could you not love a novel containing a large, ugly dog named after a grocery store?
  3. SCHOOLED by Gordon Korman. I had to include this book because it contains an opening paragraph that makes me want to keep reading every time:
    I was thirteen the first time I saw a police officer up close. He was arresting me for driving without a license. At the time, I didn’t even know what a license was. I wasn’t too clear on what being arrested meant either.

20 YEARS AGO (1995):

  1. WAYSIDE SCHOOL GETS A LITTLE STRANGER by Louis Sachar. The third and final chapter book in the rather wacky Wayside School series still makes for a terrifically fun read-aloud even a couple of decades after publication.
  2. THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. A powerful historical novel that you simply need to read. Because.
  3. Walk Two MoonsWALK TWO MOONS by Sharon Creech. Okay, I cheated. Walk Two Moons was actually published in 1994. But it won the Newbery Medal in 1995. Since it remains one of my favorite books of all time, I decided that was close enough.

Have a favorite, must-read book published in 1995, 2000, 2005, or 2010? Leave a comment and share the title!

T. P. Jagger The 3-Minute Writing TeacherAlong with his MUF posts, T. P. Jagger can be found at www.tpjagger.com, where he provides brief how-to writing-tip videos as The 3-Minute Writing Teacher plus original readers’ theatre scripts for middle-grade teachers. He also has a 10-lesson, video-based creative writing course available at Curious.com.