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17.2 From Personal to Public Writing: Subjective and Objective Poles

Subjective writing focuses on the view from inside the writer's mind. Objective writing tries to focus on the view of objects from the outside.

Writing that centers on the writer's experiences and memories is called "subjective" and often uses the word "I."

Small town high schools echo with local gossip. When I was in Bollins High, all the teachers knew about my uncle's cave. . .

Subjective writing is often addressed to an audience of people who are interested in the writer personally. But many writing projects for a public audience require writers to treat events, facts, and evidence as objects outside of themselves. This is called "objective" writing, and it avoids the word "I."

At small town high schools, people know each other's business. If a student's uncle lives in a cave, all the teachers know about it . . .
Objective writing may be very factual, as in lab reports, technical explanations, and legal records. Or it may be about ideas and problems, as in news articles, professional communications, or research analyses. If you're interested in practicing writing for such purposes, ask people in these fields to show you models of good writing in appropriate forms, and then practice writing new material following those models.

While objective and subjective mark two poles, a great deal of writing lies somewhere between them, or moves back and forth from pole to pole. The remaining writing assignments in this chapter will give you practice applying the strengths of both approaches to writing.

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