1. CopperPipe
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    CopperPipe New Member

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    Keeping 3rd Person POV Limited

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by CopperPipe, Jul 16, 2013.

    Hey everyone.

    The title pretty much explains my problem. I am looking to write a story in third-person (I tend to stick with first person) but in order to keep the narrative fairly personal, I'd like to stick with a third-person limited perspective. Do you have any tips on keeping things slightly obscured from the readers, not tiptoeing the narrative into omniscient territory? Thanks.

    - Cop
     
  2. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    Don't tell us what other people are thinking. Ever.
     
  3. CopperPipe
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    CopperPipe New Member

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    That isn't the only thing that differentiates a limited from omniscient perspective though, is it? (No sarcasm intended, I'm just dumb)
     
  4. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You can't really jump ahead in time and you have to filter e.g. pieces of info or make sure that you've established the character knows it so that it doesn't come off omni. I co-write with my hubby and all our stories are in 3rd prsn limited, so we've fumbled a lot with it.
    Example:

    "Jane walked into the room. Joe was sitting in his red armchair, sipping his favorite whiskey." It has to make sense in the story's context Jane would know it's his favorite (or the chair is his), like, maybe she's Joe's gf or something. Otherwise you'd might have to reword it to "Joe was sitting in a red armchair, sipping Jameson." If she didn't know that stuff.

    Sorry about the dumb examples, but hopefully you got the picture.
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Pick out a few novels you've read written in Third Person Limited POV. Re-read they, paying attention to and studying how the authors accomplished what you're struggling with. Maybe even mark pages and/or take notes.

    Then, apply what you've learned to your writing style and the novel you hope to write.

    It'll take a little while but what you'll learn can be applied to all the novels you write in the future (in 3rd person limited), not only the current one.
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    There's a range of third-person-limited POVs. There's the very strict one, which might as well be first person, and there's the very liberal one, which might as well be omniscient. In between, if you know what you're doing, you can skate. KaTrian's example above about Joe sipping his favorite whiskey is very strict if you demand that the POV character knows it's his favorite. You can be a bit more liberal if you want and have your third-person narrator assert that it's his favorite regardless of what the POV character knows, so long as you maintain that roughly that degree of distance (or "omniscience," if you will).

    It can be interesting to see how some writers handle third-person POV. Hemingway, in For Whom The Bell Tolls, jumped in third person from one character to another often, even entering the mind of a horse at one point. Steinbeck, in East of Eden, introduces himself (as a young boy) as a minor character and writes about himself in third person.

    Experiment with distance from your POV character. Experiment with where you can change POV characters. Find out where you're comfortable - find out what works for you. Just don't do anything that will jar the reader out of the story.
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, it's not the only thing. In a third person limited point of view, the narrator doesn't know any more than the narrator would in a first-person story - the limitations are the same.

    (Edited to add: Reading the other posts, it sounds like I have an extra strict definition of third person limited. Even if you end up disagreeing, at least it provides a boundary at one end.)
     

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