1. Souris
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    Souris New Member

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    Third Person Puzzler

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Souris, Sep 5, 2016.

    In the past year I've come across a few books written in the third person that I just cannot get on with or get used to - which is annoying because the stories all looked so good and had great reviews. I had never realized that there were different types of third person writing until I tried reading this style. It's hard to describe the style other than by giving examples, so here is a little comparison to show what I'm getting at.

    Jim walks to the car, the wind is coming from the north, it blows his scarf this way and that. His wife, Maggie, calls to their dog, a stubby Jack Russell terrier named Toddy. Toddy is not used to going in the car, this is strange to him. Maggie walks over and picks him up.

    As opposed to:

    Jim walked to the car, the wind was coming from the north, it blew his scarf this way and that. His wife, Maggie, called to their dog, a stubby Jack Russell terrier named Toddy. Toddy wasn't used to going in the car, it was strange to him. Maggie walked over and picked him up.

    I'd love to know if the first example is a particular style, and if anyone else has a problem with it.
     
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  2. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    The first example is in present tense, while the second is in past.
     
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  3. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This is nothing to do with third person. The first is present tense, the second is past tense. You can use either tense in first, second or third person.

    Present tense is indeed trendy at the moment, especially in YA. Personally I don't read present tense works.

    Edit: izzy beat me to it!
     
  4. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just to explain further - as it would appear you're not familiar with the different tenses - the first (present tense) is meant to read like the events are happening right there and then, before your very eyes - in the 'now' as it were. While the second (past tense) is like someone telling you a story of something that happened some time ago.
     
  5. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    Yes. This is a matter of tense not POV. As others have said, the first example is present tense and the second is past tense. There are different options when it comes to using third person. Those would be like omniscient or limited. But that's not what you are asking about here. The only difference between your two examples is the tense.
     
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  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    But... If it were part of the question, I would say the example is in omniscient mode since we are given both Jim's impression of the wind and Toddy's feeling of the car being strange. The narrator is very wide-angle in this snippet, rather than tucked with just one person.
     
  7. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Though a nice wedge of words that has some poetry.
    ...

    Such a versatile language:

    I walk towards our car. The north wind blows my scarf this way and then that way. Maggie, she calls to our stubby Jack Russell,

    'Toddy,' she cries.

    Toddy, not used to the car, strange to him, an interior.

    Maggie walks over, she takes the dog in her hands, crams the frail body into the boot of the vehicle. Cliffs are high this morning. We are ready, and I slam the door, seated in a driver seat. Aside me, Maggie smiles her final crinkle. Our hands entwined, we release the handbrake.

    [try it again, take out past tense]

    Maggie walks over, she takes Toddy in her hands, crams the frail dog body into the boot of the vehicle. Cliffs are high this morning. We are ready, and I slam the door, sit in the driver seat. Aside me, Maggie smiles her final twinkle. Our hands entwine, we release the handbrake.

    ...

    ffs sit in car first then slam the door

    Also, would a north wind blow your scarf this way and that way?
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2016
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  8. Souris
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    Souris New Member

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    Thanks everyone for your input! If you had asked me to spot the different tenses I could have, and I knew both examples were third person, but for some reason I thought there might be a specific name for present tense writing. I find past tense far more powerful for some reason and am now most careful to read a sample of a book before buying. Great examples - thanks Matwoolf :)
     
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