Close Third-Person Point of View moves the point of view from outside the characters to inside one character’s head. The reader has access to that character’s emotions, thoughts, and assumptions. It tells the story in that character’s voice. This method has become very popular in literature in recent times. I have put together some articles and podcasts that I hope will develop your understanding of close third-person point of view and share some tips with you on how to use this method well.
Deep third-person – where the narrator’s voice is the character’s voice – offers many benefits of a first-person narrator but with more flexibility. It is convenient when there are multiple point of view characters. However, it’s not easy to do. Action tags that may provide clarity also create distance between the character and the reader. This article shares ways to minimise both distance and ambiguity; including changing pronouns to articles, adding descriptions, adding physical sensations, drop in backstories, character knowledge, or voice. Use character assessments, use limited third-person tags, but use tricks to make them less conspicuous. All of these tips are accompanied by examples to demonstrate. This is a very useful, practical article.
Writing in the third-person point of view is like hearing an announcer call a sporting event -a narrator gives a play-by-play of the plot from an outside perspective. This article from Masterclass discusses the three types of third-person point of view: third-person omniscient, third-person limited, and third-person objective point of view. The article moves on to share 8 tips for writing in third-person point of view, including choosing the best type of third-person point of view for your story, using third-person pronouns, switching viewpoint characters strategically, choosing your viewpoint character carefully, avoiding shipping into first-person point of view, remember that in third-person limited, the narrator only knows what the character knows, in third-person objective, stay out of everyone’s heads, and write with authority.
It’s easy to fall into pitfalls and cliches without realising it when writing in the third-person point of view. Whether it’s told from one character’s perspective or several, it’s a step back from the intimacy of the first-person point of view, once you see the character’s actions from the outside of the character, rather from inside their head. This article from Writing Mastery tells us it is important to pick which person’s point of view to use and stay consistent with it. Don’t info dump characters’ appearances, choose the right characters to follow, introduce the setting with character interactions, and match your number of viewpoints to the story you’re telling. Each tip is demonstrated with examples.
- Third Person Close Point of View: Definition, Pros, and Cons — Read Blog — Ignited Ink Writing, LLC | Book Editor | Website/Blog Content Editor/Writer
This article from Ignited Ink discusses the pros and cons of using the third-person close point of view. Using examples, the pros are that it is useful for keeping secrets: the main character in third-person novels can know information the reader does not. The third-person close infuses the exposition with the author’s voice and language skills while still hinting at the character’s voice through their thoughts and dialogue. By using this method, you can have varying distance in your novel. The author can pan away from the character for a moment to show the larger world or events bigger than that character. The cons of using a third-person close point of view include it weakens the character’s voice. While the third-person close point of view focuses on a single character, it is not told in that character’s words so there is a distance between the reader and the character. A second con is that by closely following a single character, third-person close limits the readers’ knowledge of other characters, events, and parts of the world.
In third-person limited narration, the narrator exists, observes, and reports the main events of the story. Ursula K. Le Guin explained that in limited third-person ‘Only what the viewpoint character knows, feels, perceives, thinks, guesses, hopes, remembers etc, can be told.’ The reader can infer what other people feel and think only from what the viewpoint character observes. Now Novel shares four ways to use third-person limited well, including, using tone to show feelings, show the mystery of a limited point of view, show characters mistaken assumptions, and contrast limited viewpoints to show contrasting experiences. Each is demonstrated with examples from literature.
Getting the point of view right is one of the fundamental challenges for any writer in this episode they look at what point of view is, and how to make a success of a third-person limited point of view in your story.
This covers all points of view and is good for a beginner trying to decide the best way to tell your story.
If you’re looking to write an engaging genre fiction novel that grips readers and doesn’t let go, a deep point of view might just be your secret weapon. In this episode from Well Storied, they discuss this technique and how you can utilize it in your own writing.
Using a different point of view such as a third-person close point of view can be enlightening. It can change your story completely and change the experience your reader has reading it. Try taking a scene or chapter in your story and rewrite it using a close third-person point of view. I hope you found this week’s column useful. As always if there are any topics you would like me to cover please get in touch.
(c) Lucy O’Callaghan