1. lonelystar

    lonelystar Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2018
    Messages:
    93
    Likes Received:
    51

    Character thoughts in 3RDPOV

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by lonelystar, Jan 14, 2018.

    Hi, In my current WIP I am writing In 3rd person. The MC is about to get married but is having doubts. This is currently written as Was she doing the right thing? Would he hurt her like previous boyfriend had? Basically I wondered does it work like this or should it be either A) in 1st person or B) as a descriptive paragraph, ie she sat wondering if marrying person B was the right thing to do because..... Also should it be is or was?
     
  2. Kenosha Kid

    Kenosha Kid Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2017
    Messages:
    179
    Likes Received:
    83
    I think that's fine, I've seen that everywhere. It's the inner monologue equivalent to dialogue. It still means you've got an omniscient narrator, but that's true whether you write as inner thoughts or description.
     
  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    15,352
    Likes Received:
    13,054
    Are you saying that you're actually writing those thoughts in italic? While there is infinite disagreement about italics for thought, I think that everyone agrees that if they are used, they would be used for first person present tense direct thought. Your thoughts don't fit that description and therefore don't need italics.

    So, I started to write an example, and by the time I was done, it became flash fiction and I was unwilling to "publish" it. So I point you to an example that I wrote some time ago--in the post, I'm talking about scene versus summary, but it's also in close third person with thoughts.

    https://www.writingforums.org/threads/going-for-length.136420/#post-1296294
     
    Kenosha Kid likes this.
  4. lonelystar

    lonelystar Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2018
    Messages:
    93
    Likes Received:
    51
    No I'm not using italics in the actual text, I just used them here to make the thoughts more obvious.

    This is an excerpt from the WIP which might make the question clearer -
    Melissa replaced the photo and sank onto the bed. The wedding was less than two hours away but she still had so many doubts and concerns.
    Was she doing the right thing?
    Would he hurt her like Martin had?
     
  5. DueNorth

    DueNorth Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2014
    Messages:
    390
    Likes Received:
    345
    Location:
    Minnesota
    You can do it the way you have it written—many writers seem to use this style. Personally, I don’t like it. I find it “lazy” writing, and I think it comes across as the narrator having a conversation with the reader—as if asking the reader these questions. For me, as a reader, this style takes me out of the story. My style would be to say something like (there are a variety of ways to do this):
    As she waited for the hair stylist to finish her hair, the doubts she’d had over the last few weeks returned. She wondered whether he would ever hurt her...
     
  6. Kenosha Kid

    Kenosha Kid Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2017
    Messages:
    179
    Likes Received:
    83
    Ah good to know.
     
  7. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    3,298
    Likes Received:
    2,424
    I think what you have here is fine. I would not change the thoughts to first person. I would keep them in third as you have done. However, I do feel like you need to keep the italics here. I'm not aware of past debates on this topic or I have just forgotten them. But in you're examples I do think you need the italics.
     
  8. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,970
    Likes Received:
    11,846
    The "she wondered" part is called a filter, and it's generally discouraged in close third POV. In a more distant third, I think it'd be fine.

    I don't think there's anything "lazy" about either approach.
     
    Tenderiser likes this.
  9. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,970
    Likes Received:
    11,846
    Do you mean omniscient, or do you mean third person? I can't see an indication that it's an omniscient narrator.

    And, OP, I agree with Chicken that the only reason to use italics would be as a way to set off a passage that's in a different narrative mode. The italics essentially perform the role of quotation marks, without making it confusing about whether the thoughts were spoken out loud. So I'd write either:

    Eliza slumped back in her chair and let out a slightly melodramatic groan. Bobby seemed nice, but that could just be an act. Was she doing the right thing? Would he hurt her like previous boyfriend had?​

    or:

    Eliza slumped back in her chair and let out a slightly melodramatic groan. Bobby seemed nice, but that could just be an act. Am I doing the right thing? Will he hurt me like the Rat Bastard did?
     
  10. Kenosha Kid

    Kenosha Kid Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2017
    Messages:
    179
    Likes Received:
    83
    A narrator that knows the inner thoughts of the characters is omniscient, yes.
     
  11. Kenosha Kid

    Kenosha Kid Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2017
    Messages:
    179
    Likes Received:
    83
    Or telepathic :p
     
  12. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,970
    Likes Received:
    11,846
    It's not omniscient if it's close third.

    An omniscient narrator would know all characters' inner thoughts. A close third narrator would only know the inner thoughts of the POV character.
     
  13. DueNorth

    DueNorth Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2014
    Messages:
    390
    Likes Received:
    345
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Agree with all points. This highlights the importance of making a POV choice early on and adhering to it throughout the piece.
     
  14. Kenosha Kid

    Kenosha Kid Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2017
    Messages:
    179
    Likes Received:
    83
    That's what I said: the characters. I saw nothing from the OP that specified only one character's thoughts were available to the narrator.

    Even if they are, third person limited (or close as you call it) is just a subset of third person omniscient. The narrator knows things they cannot possibly know. Whether they choose to describe one character (the MC) or 10 is a quantitative distinction not a qualitative one.

    I gather your objection is semantic. ^ Those are my semantics, and if you don't like them, I have others. :D
     
  15. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    15,352
    Likes Received:
    13,054
    If third person limited is just a subset of third person omniscient, do you acknowledge any third person view that isn’t omniscient? Because there appears to be nothing left.

    Me, I’ll keep using the standard terminology.

    (Also--"omni"--"all". Knowing all things, not knowing some extra things.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
    BayView likes this.
  16. Kenosha Kid

    Kenosha Kid Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2017
    Messages:
    179
    Likes Received:
    83
    Sure, third person objective.
     
  17. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    15,352
    Likes Received:
    13,054
    You can use whatever terms you want, but using "omniscient" for a narrator that actually isn't all-knowing, but instead knows only a subset of reality, strikes me as a misuse of the word. It also could be inconvenient if you someday need to describe a work to someone who uses the standard terms.

    A little like the person elsewhere in the forum who uses the term "ghost writer" to refer to what others would refer to as a muse. If he tries to publish the thing and refers to a ghost writer, somebody's going to want that ghost writer to sign a contract.
     
    BayView likes this.
  18. Kenosha Kid

    Kenosha Kid Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2017
    Messages:
    179
    Likes Received:
    83
    EDIT: Well that didn't work. Sorry :confused:

    Do you observe no difference then between third person omniscient and universal omniscient?
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
  19. DeeDee

    DeeDee Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2018
    Messages:
    564
    Likes Received:
    418
    First person = character narrates story
    Third person = somebody else narrates story
    - third limited = we can see the world only through one character's eyes and know only what that character knows
    - third omni = we can see the world from high above and know everything anywhere

    I see no other option :confused:

    Oh, wait, the only option I can think of is if you mean personal voice vs universal/objective voice, the first being when we hear a very personalized voice of the character and the latter being an objective voice that has nothing to do with the character. But that won't be POV. o_O
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
    Kenosha Kid likes this.
  20. Kenosha Kid

    Kenosha Kid Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2017
    Messages:
    179
    Likes Received:
    83
    I think that covers the bulk of stories tbf.

    There's also:
    • third person subjective (distinct from 3rd person omniscient in that it has access to one or more characters' point of view but is written in the third person, distinct from third limited in that multiple characters' points of view are described);
    • alternating;
    • depending on where you stand, universal omniscient, which has access to information no-one has.
    And probably others I don't remember. I suppose The Iliad from Zeus' perspective would make first-person omniscient :D

    I think the bone of contention is the distinction between "does not" and "can not". It's unnecessary to posit a different kind of narrator just to describe the inner thoughts of one person, or just twelve people, or whatever. If I talk to you about cheese and not ham, it doesn't mean I don't know about ham. Even a third-person subjective or omniscient narrator doesn't describe the inner thoughts of every single character mentioned in a book, so differentiating between subjective and limited is pretty redundant imo.
     
  21. Kenosha Kid

    Kenosha Kid Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2017
    Messages:
    179
    Likes Received:
    83
    Addendum: Apparently there's such a thing as third person free/indirect. Whatever that is. I think we're well into edge cases at this stage. :)

    As I understand it, the main difference is between the contemporaneous and the historical. A universal omniscient narrator might have access to, for instance, events which haven't taken place yet, or took place long ago, or events sufficiently far away (millions of light years away in sci-fi for instance).
     
  22. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    15,352
    Likes Received:
    13,054
    I see them as:

    - Third Person Omniscient. Knows all, tells what it pleases. Omniscient is pretty much always going to be third person. In theory, you could have a narrator with an actual identity, like a sort of god character that knows everything and refers to him/her/itself, and then arguably the narrative voice would be first person and you'd have, as you say, first person omniscient.

    - Third person objective. This tells us the facts and events, but not thoughts and emotions, except to the extent that the thoughts and emotions are externally apparent. A short, if not entirely accurate, description could be that it's "movie camera POV". I've rarely seen the term third person objective used, so I'm extra open to debate on what it really is.

    - Third person subjective/third person limited. I don't really see these as different. The narrative is in grammatical third person, and at any given moment, it has access to only one character's inner life. The one character may change at clearly delineated points. If those points aren't clear, if for example the viewpoint shifts within a scene or a paragraph, this starts to be muddied with omniscient, but that doesn't mean that I regard it as a subset of omniscient.

    Third person has a spectrum of distance and closeness, hence "close third person limited". The fact that it can switch POV characters gives us "alternating close third person limited". But I do not regard any of these as omniscient.

    - First person. A single person is the narrator, and of course knows only what they know.
     
    BayView and Kenosha Kid like this.
  23. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    3,298
    Likes Received:
    2,424
    Aww... but a first person narrator can still have distance from a story, allowing them to know things they might not have known while the story is taking place.
     
  24. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    15,352
    Likes Received:
    13,054
    True. I don't know if there's a term for that?
     
  25. Kenosha Kid

    Kenosha Kid Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2017
    Messages:
    179
    Likes Received:
    83
    Yeah I agree, I'd use "third person subjective" to describe a one-character PoV, even if the PoV changed every chapter say, so long as for a given unit of the story (a chapter, or part, or book say) it stuck with one character. If the narrator has access to every character's interior at will, as well as the external world, that's an omniscient narrator imo, which is what I meant by the term originally. Given that an omniscient narrator with access to all (contemporaneous) information has access to a single person's subjectivity, the former is a special case of the latter.

    "alternating close third person limited" is not a term I've ever heard used before and, with apologies, one I'm not going to adopt anytime soon :eek:
     

Share This Page