Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Point of View: Third Person Limited

Third person Limited keeps it's focus one one character. It's like that character is being followed around with a TV camera. It has two empathy levels: Subjective and Objective. Let's look at Each


 This is the most commonly used third person POV. In many ways, it is like first person main character. You focus on the point of view character, know his or her thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations, etc. The only difference is that an anonymous narrator is telling the story and not the POV character. This character is usually a main character, but not necessarily. In some novels you will shift the POV from one character to another in different scenes. We will talk about multiple points of view in another lesson. However, it is important to remember to stick to a single point of view for each scene.

Most of what we said about first person applies here as well. Your character and reader can only know about what is known or could possibly be known to the main character. So, if in another part of the universe events are transpiring against your character, they have to hear about it through a third party or be ignorant of it just like in first person.


 Remember we talked about the idea of a TV camera on the shoulder of a character with a cable plugged into that character's brain. In this POV, we unplug the cable. We follow the character around but only report what could be seen by that camera. You don't report his/her thoughts or feelings, what they see or hear or think. You only report their behavior and their environment. For instance, if you are reporting about a detective finding the body of a murder victim using the objective POV, you might write something like this:

Detective Marylin Walters entered the room. The stench of decomp permeated the room. She wrinkled her nose and reached into her purse. She withdrew a small tube of some sort of cream and applied it to her nostrils. She dropped the tube back in her purse and stooped down to bend over the body. Jake Carter, M.E. was already examining the corpse.

"Won't know for sure until we get her on the table, but it looks like blunt force trauma."

"No chance it could be an accident?"

"None whatsoever," Jake said as he stood up and walked to a table. He picked up a plastic bag with a bloodied hammer.

"Okay," Marylin sighed. "There go my plans for the weekend."

Notice we do not mention anything about her inner feelings or emotions. However, we get it that she is revolted by the stench of decomp, that she doesn't want to investigate and she has some plans for the weekend.

It is a hard point of view to maintain throughout an entire novel. However, I might say that writing at least a few chapters in this style will help you develop those skills of showing your visitor what is happening instead of just telling them. When using a subjective point of view, it is easier to say, "Marilyn hated the smell of decomp" than to describe her actions, but that description has more impact than simply giving her inner response.

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