What works for one story may not work for another.
Understanding character and tight third person POV | Karen Traviss's Blog
This exercise will help you observe the impact of writing in the third person point of view, which might open up new directions for your story that you hadn't considered before. Any distance you can have from the page, or new ways you can have of seeing the same narrative are important. Often, as writers, we are too focused on what we think the story is about, rather than — perhaps — what it has become on the page.
How to Write in Third Person Without Mistakes?
Choose a particularly compelling or problematic scene from a piece of prose you have recently written in the first person. Try to find a piece that includes both dialogue and exposition.
Rewrite the piece from the third person point of view. Take your time. It may require some strategizing to pull off the transformation. You'll also have to consider whether or not you want to use third person omniscient or limited. In moving from first to third, it might be easiest to try the third person limited first.
Notice how the change in point of view changes the voice and the mood of the story. What freedom do you have with this narrator that you did not have before? If you have chosen the limited third person, is there anything that you now know about the character that you didn't before? Certain techniques and devices are easier to employ with an omniscient narrator.
Here are three of them:. Writing with an omniscient narrator allows the author to create a persona of sorts, who sits outside the world of the story. Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams both wrote using omniscient narrators. In this passage from a Discworld novel, Pratchett goes on a tangent about the Bursar of the wizarding university:.
Killing off a wizard of a higher grade was a recognised way of getting advancement in the orders. These details are completely incidental, and would almost certainly never make it into the final draft of a book written from limited or first person POVs. Both of them may start a scene with a wide establishing shot that shows the environment, before tracking in and focusing on specific characters. This is from the opening chapter of J.
Tongues began to wag in Hobbiton and Bywater; and rumour of the coming event travelled all over the Shire. The history and character of Mr. Bilbo Baggins became once again the chief topic of conversation; and the older folk suddenly found their reminisces in welcome demand.
No one had a more attentive audience than old Ham Gamgee, commonly known as the Gaffer. He held forth at The Ivy Bush, a small inn on the Bywater road. He then zooms into a pub, and in particular, to an old Hobbit about to recount his personal tales of Bilbo.
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This ability to move swiftly between the small and big picture is harder to pull off with a limited POV. The way a narrator frames the story and describes characters and their actions will almost always suggest some form of subjectivity. The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o'clock; in some towns there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 25th. But in this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten o'clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.
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This section almost entirely focuses on the logistics of running this mysterious lottery — which itself is introduced in an almost incidental way. We have taken the narrator's viewpoint, observing these events from a distance. Most publishers and successful indie authors will tell you that you need to write to the market. And currently, the market heavily leans away from third person omniscient. But why? Omniscience can often get in the way of that connection. Third person limited narratives are, simply put, more effective at creating character-focused stories.
Publishers will encourage authors not to use a 'closer' POV, for reasons you will discover in the next section. In Third Person Limited, the author narrates the story from the close perspective of one character at a time to create the immediacy and intimacy of a first-person narrative, without being "trapped inside" a protagonist's head. Only what the viewpoint character knows, feels, perceives, thinks, guesses, hopes, remembers, etc.
An Instruction to How to Write in Third Person
The reader can infer what other people feel and think only from what the viewpoint character observes of their behaviour. The difference is that there's a critical sliver of distance between the protagonist and narrator, which will change the way the main character is portrayed. While first-person can bring more emotional immediacy than other narrative modes, it also limits what the reader knows to what the protagonist knows — for better or for worse.