Sunday, March 18, 2012

Reflections: Third Person Limited

Hi folks, I'm continuing the POV series for the month of March. This week, I'm going tackle Third Person Limited POV. In this POV all the characters are referred to as "he", "she", "it" and "they." Up front, I like to write in this POV. I always feel like I'm out of the straight-jacket of first person and can get on with telling my story. Here is the way I think about Third Person Limited. Imagine a little camera flying around; this camera is buzzing around your main character. This camera can only see what the character sees. Your camera can also see the thoughts of the main character too, but no one else. Third person is a way to sneak around first person in my opinion, kind of like watching a movie of one person's story but not through their eyes.

One advantage of using third person limited POV is you put some distance between your reader and your main character. This space creates room for more action and scenery. It's like your reader is peering into the arena instead of being in the arena. This POV is the one oral storytellers cut their teeth on. I think writers come from all kinds of backgrounds and traditions. I'm a Southerner and my family held me spellbound for years with their embellished tales of down-home life. I really believe that's why I connect with third person limited POV. "Down by the creek, a long time ago, some bad stuff went down."

You can create that sense of "once upon a time" with the third person limited which is tough to create with first person. You also get the bonus of more wiggle room with the descriptive language. In first person, you can't snap out crunchy descriptive words that aren't in the head of your main character. You also get to spend more time focused on the action of a story if you are about a plot driven wild ride. Finally, third person POV lends itself well to epic storytelling. If you've got a really BIG story to share, the subjective POV will help you cast out that big net.

Think about this stuff as you choose your perfect POV for your story. I will be back with more POV reflections next week...

This week's doodle: "Kid"


There is nothing insignificant in the world. It all depends on the point of view. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

4 comments:

Candy Lynn Fite said...

I'm about 1/4 way through my second round of revisions w/ my YA historical fantasy. I should have written in 3rd Limited POV. The story needs to be plot driven, but with my mc telling it in 1st, there's a real struggle between plot / char. driven. Ugh. I think I'll wait and see what my betas say before trying to change it now.

Great post, Molly!

MollyMom103 said...

Hi Candy, thanks for dropping by. Before you move to third person limited ask yourself if why you chose first person. I find our interior muse is trying to tell us something when we make unusual stylistic choices. I also think you can totally pull off epic fantasy in first person; Janet Carey's new novel Dragonswood is in first person and it's got a big epic plot. It can be done. Actually anything can be done if done well. I also love The White Darkness by Gerladine McCaughrean. It just has some drawbacks in terms of setting and epic"ness". Good luck on your journey...:)

Candy Lynn Fite said...

Hi Molly, I appreciate your wisdom. Looking back, I chose first person because "she" is who told me her story while sitting in the back of an old pioneer wagon in Alpine, TX. I went there to research an entirely different book, when "she" caught me off guard.

Not an eebie-jeebie situation (at least I don't think so!!), I think it was merely an inspirational moment for an artist. The museum of Big Bend is filled with so much history.

I've decided to leave it the way it is, finish rewrites in a few weeks and pass it to a new beta reader, someone completely "in the dark" about my story. My new reader just volunteered last week, so I'm excited.

Thanks again. I'll have to check out the books you suggested above.

MollyMom103 said...

Hi Candy! I love why you made a choice. I think its important that you made your choice because of voice. Voice is something you own. You can only be encouraged to find your voice, no one can direct you to it. It's an unseen path within. M.