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  1. Inktail

    Inktail Member

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    Third Person Limited

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Inktail, Jan 8, 2017.

    I am writing my first novel, sci-fi, so I am inexperienced with some 'rules'.
    I have a few questions google seems to fail to answer, so hopefully you guys can help. ^^

    First, if the person of my POV comes from a different world and sees for example a helicopter, should I name it how they see it and not 'helicopter' as it's unknown to them?

    Second, their thoughts, should they remain third person? I don't do italic, as I am not narrating from my point of view but from theirs.I mostly explain things that are unseen but important by their thoughts.

    Oh, and any rules for past tense?

    Thank you. :) PS, english is not my native language.
     
  2. SethLoki

    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    Hello inktail, as I understand it, third limited, is exactly that...limited. The story's restricted to the thinking and the behaviour of your main character. So, yes a helicopter would be strange to an other-worldly character. Anything I do using that POV, I've learnt, requires a bit of forethought and a need to look ahead into the story to consider whether all the necessary exposition can be given/gotten from the planned scenes. It's quite easy to write yourself into a corner otherwise.

    My take also is that your character needs to be interesting and mysterious enough to deem it worthwhile.
     
  3. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's a distinction that's sometimes made between limited third and close third that may be relevant - and of course there's no real uniformity of terms, so be prepared to read slightly different versions of this from different sources.

    Limited Third means the narration follows one character - we're limited to that perspective. But we can follow them from a distance, or we can follow them from really close, like right inside their head. So close third can be seen as a subcategory of limited third, if that makes sense.

    So, for example:

    Omniscient Third: Johnny didn't know why she was being so distant. Didn't know about her doubts, her struggle about whether to even come to the meeting, her soul-searching and her fears. He just knew she was cold when he wanted her to be warm, and he wondered whether she had a plan. "What's your problem?" he demanded.

    Limited (fairly distant) Third: Johnny didn't know why she was being so distant, but he didn't appreciate it. She was being cold, and he wanted her to be warm. He wondered if she was up to something. "What's your problem?" he demanded.

    Close Third: Johnny had no idea what her problem was, but he was sick of it. She'd set him up, maybe. She'd thought she could trick him into giving her what she wanted, but without giving him anything in return. Hell, no, that wasn't how it was going to go. She couldn't turn all cold on him, not when she'd been toasty hot just the day before. Crazy bitch is trying to play me. "What's your problem?" he demanded.
    So for your questions - For the first one, about the helicopter, I think the answer's the same for all forms of limited, including close - your narrative shouldn't include anything your character wouldn't know, including the word "helicopter".

    For the second question, though? If you're doing a more distant version of limited third, I think you can set off character thoughts with filter words, like "he wondered". And in that context, I wouldn't switch pronouns. But in closer third, you'll sometimes probably want to include actual words the character thinks as opposed to just ideas the character has, and for those I think the pronouns should switch. But I also think they should be italicized or otherwise set off from the rest of the text. This is far from a universal conclusion, though. (I honestly haven't read the entire thread dedicated to that issue; I just read enough to realize I was happy with my current way of doing things). So if you're planning to not use italics, I'm not sure what to tell you. I personally wouldn't switch the pronouns without using something to set the passage off from the rest of the narrative.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2017
  4. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Contributing Member Supporter

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    This is the BEST description and example I've ever seen on these three terms--I don't think I even knew limited third and close third were different terms because of the confusion between them. Thank you so much for this! And thank you Inktail for asking the question that prompted this answer!
     
    BayView likes this.
  5. Inktail

    Inktail Member

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    Sorry for being late. Thank you guys so much, very very helpful. :p I'm glad my thread was helpful for you Candy.
    So, I do write how my POV feels, is that close third? And about italics...I don't know because what they see and think is sometimes mixed. But there are some 'he/she thought' if it's something significant and a pure thought.
     

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