1. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    3rd Person Limited Framing

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by zoupskim, Jan 15, 2016.

    I am writing a story through 3rd person limited perspective.

    It is a war story, so most scenes require the reader to have a good idea of the space that characters occupy. During some scenes I will start in 3rd person unlimited, describing the overall position of people and objects around the character, and maybe a little description of tone. I will then shift over to the character's point of view, and the rest of the scene will continue in 3rd person limited. An example would be something like this.

    The column advanced down the four lane highway two vehicles abreast, 3rd squad in V formation up front. The rest of the platoon was spread out behind the lead element. Although no one could see it, everyone knew a drone loitered high above them. They were all on edge. Private Bob fiddled with his radio, watching the lead vehicle.

    I use this method a few times for scenes where I want to jump right to a characters interactions without having to waste character's dialog on describing the scene around them, which is needed for later firefights or other danger.

    I was wondering what people's thoughts on this were. Should the characters be the only lens for my narrative, or can I draw back sometimes to set the stage?
     
  2. Midge23
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    Midge23 Member

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    My 'personal' preference would be to stay third-limited.

    Private Bob can see they are on a four lane highway, maybe he can see 3rd squad up ahead, or was briefed on what they were doing, or spoke to a member of the 3rd over a smoke. Can he hear the drone, or can he see lots of heads looking around the sky, or an officer scanning the sky with some binoculars?

    You can pass the reader all the information they need in limited, and this is the way I would choose to do it.

    I'm not saying opening with 3rd-unlimited is wrong but, if the bulk of the story is 3rd-limited on the MC, it would jar with me a little.

    Dave
     
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  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    JK Rowling does this pretty often in the Harry Potter series, so... nope, if you do this, your books will never sell! :rolleyes:
     
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  4. ~Artemis~
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    ~Artemis~ Member

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    My instinct would be to say that you should stick with the limited perspective if that's the POV in which most of the story is written, but the example you gave seems to work really well. Maybe try writing the scenes both ways and see which you prefer, or which sounds more natural. I often find I want to write things one way despite people telling me I should write it another way, and only when I (grudgingly) try writing it the other way do I realize how much the piece needed that. There is no right or wrong really; just experiment with your writing and figure out what works for you, what you prefer. A good writer can make just about anything work if they put their mind to it. Good luck!
     
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  5. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This works fine for me. I would limit the 'camera pan' to the beginning of chapters/scenes (which it sounds like you're doing) rather than keep dipping in and out, but that would be my only concern.
     
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  6. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    It is fine. Just use it judiciously.
     
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