1. U.G. Ridley
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    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid Supporter

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    Lying in third-person limited

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by U.G. Ridley, Jul 4, 2016.

    I am writing a book about a woman who has been in abusive relationships all her life, so as you can guess, her logic isn't always the most sound. I want this logic to come across to the reader, but I've heard that when you do that in third-person limited, you can't have the actual narrator explain things using this logic. Like you can't write something like "She had probably just been ungrateful," in response to her getting punched by her abusive husband for no good reason. Instead, you have to write it as, for example, a thought she has. "I must have been ungrateful, she thought."

    I guess this has something to do with the whole "untrustworthy narrator" that I've heard about, which is something I've heard you are only supposed to do in first-person.

    So, can my third-person narrator not say things that, in one way or another, isn't true? Can't he lie, even if it reflects the thoughts and personality of the character that the perspective is coming from?
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you should have your narrator tell the truth as your narrator sees it. You don't want lies, no, but I think it's fine to have your character's biases come through, for sure.
     
  3. U.G. Ridley
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    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid Supporter

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    Ok, good. Cause the way it was described to me was that you can't have weird logics and opinions come through in third-person unless you have it be a thought directly from the character. Would have made writing my book such a pain:rofl:
     
  4. sahlmi
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    sahlmi Active Member

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    I believe the 'describer' was very mislead. Of course you can have weird logics and opinions in 3rd limited and it's expected. It doesn't have to be an italicized direct thought unless that's your style or for stress.

    Something like, "She had probably just been ungrateful" is perfect fine--assuming this is the mc's pov.
    ...unless I'm completely misunderstanding your question. Are you thinking of omniscient maybe?
     
  5. U.G. Ridley
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    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid Supporter

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    No, you aren't misunderstanding. The book is third-limited from the pov of an abused woman. I was always used to having my third-person limited style being very close to the actual character personality, until, again, someone mentioned that doing that is only acceptable in first-person, which kind of confused me. So it seems they were just misled and were very confidently telling me something that was very wrong, haha.
     
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, you were misled. Not only is what you want to do fine, it's common.
     
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  7. Elven Candy
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    Elven Candy Contributing Member

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    A limited third person book is like a first person book that's had a pronoun change. The reader's in that character's head, so everything the reader learns is automatically filtered through the character. So, depending on the surrounding text, you could just say:

    She must have been ungrateful.

    I write a lot of my character's thoughts like this, where it's written in the third person and without italics or saying, "she thought," and my alpha readers are never, ever confused. The only times I feel the need to italicize thoughts and put them into first person is when I want a little extra punch, such as if the character's just had an epiphany.
     
  8. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldnt say you can't do that. I write a really close third person and my characters' thoughts leak into the narrative voice all the time - I have a sequence I'm working on right now where the POV character's thoughts are so clouded by her maternal feelings toward her best friend that she doesn't realize that the friend is slowly planning to sabotage her career and ruin her life. So you can do it, you just have to commit to that kind of voice.
     
  9. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah. Same here. I've gotten a few comments that my third person is so close that it's a bit jarring to start with, but those people usually really like the voice when they adjust.
     

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