1. FlashFictioneer

    FlashFictioneer New Member

    May 11, 2013
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    Third Person Limited - Dos and Don'ts

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by FlashFictioneer, May 11, 2013.

    Driving myself to distraction here around narration perspective. I am attempting to write in a Third Person Limited style. As you will all know this simply means driving the story through a 'Point of View' character. Whether it's one POV per chapter or scene the story is theirs for that period of time. As this is a fairly common mode for story telling I was/am :)D) hoping that my new friends on WritingForums may be able to set me straight.

    As far as I can see if in 3PL then it is fair game to write:

    What the POV is doing i.e. "She left the hallway and entered the lounge" etc
    What the POV can see i.e. "as she walked into the room the hearth was ablaze, the table set" etc
    What the POV can think i.e " as she entered the room the thoughts of last year came flooding back. He had told her not to return. His words still sent chills down her spine..." etc

    What I'm not so sure about is something like this:

    As the door clicked shut Senisa moved towards the window. Varrjan and the rest of her children were almost out of sight as they approached and then disappeared down Standal Avenue. They would be gone until at least the middle of the day

    The first two sentences are 3PL. The first describing what Senisa is doing. The second is what she can see. The third is the tricky one. To me it is a thought in the POV's head. She knows they will be gone until the middle of the day. However, I'm not sure if others would agree and might see it as more of an omni style piece of narrative.

    Any input would be appreciated.


  2. jeepea

    jeepea Member

    Mar 18, 2013
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    I think the third sentence works fine as 3rd person limited. The 'Senisa knew' is implied. If you have concerns, write it explicitly: Senisa knew they would be gone until at least the middle of the day.

    And welcome to the forum.:)
  3. B. anthracis

    B. anthracis New Member

    May 11, 2013
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    For what you posted, it looks fine. Sometimes we get caught up in technical stuff that's only noticed and cared about by English majors during torturous workshops.

    I'll also suggest that the way you've written it has something to do with a tone you want to establish or have already established (possibly); and it works. I take POV stuff as good guidelines, not strict rules. There are times when we can break with 3rd close and get a quick look inside the villain's head, which if done deftly can create some suspense. Or in 3rd omni, it can work to shift to a view that shows only the actions of a character whose head we've been in up until now. Of course, those things are a call on the writer's part. That's why it's an art, not a science.

    Anyway, if something works, then it works regardless of POV rules.
  4. killbill

    killbill Member

    Feb 27, 2012
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    where the mind is without fear...
    Certainly not. Unless you write something like:

    ....They would be gone until at least the middle of the day, granny was waiting with her cake and a big smile on her face.

    Your sentence is just a thought in the viewpoint char's mind and it would most likely take place ("would" suggest it's kind of routine for them to return at that time), but it might also not take place. In what I have added the use of "was" suggest the action actually took place, but the viewpoint char was not in a position to see it happening, so I have slipped from 3PL. But if I use "would" instead of was/is it's perfectly fine 3PL writing.

    ....They would be gone until at least the middle of the day, granny would be waiting with her cake and a big smile on her face.

    It becomes something she expects, and not some concrete action she can't see.
  5. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

    Mar 9, 2010
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    As long as she does know that fact, you're fine, especially if the entire work is in third person limited. If you bounce between different viewpoint characters without specific boundaries (like chapter boundaries), then I could imagine that it could be more important to be sure that the source of the information is clear.

    Edited to add: If the fact were something less simple and obvious, you could add a word to explain why she knows it:

    As usual, they'd return with fresh blueberry muffins.

    ("As usual" is that explanation, here.)
  6. Xatron

    Xatron New Member

    Jan 30, 2013
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    If it was a standalone sentence it would probably be considered 3PO. But from the context a "Senisa knew" or "Senisa believed" or the like is implied so it is still 3PL. Although while you are writing you shouldn't be concerned about such minute details; leave them for the editing.

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