3rd Person Narrations.

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Addison, Jul 23, 2012.

  1. Addison

    Addison Dark Lord

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    I know that there are several popular and well-used modes of 3rd person POV. You have omniscient, limited third, distant third, middle third, epistolary and a few other I forget. I know that the POV a writer chooses and how they write it makes it unique, it's their voice. But how do you know what you're writing isn't sort of....illiterate? I read of one 3rd person POV which was a combination of 3rd and first. It doesn't jump from first person POV to 3rd every chapter or paragraph. It's like the reader is sitting on the grandpa's knee as he tells the story. At times in this book the narrator addresses the reader. But this is, apparently, not wise as addressing the reader in that way in a 3rd person book would break the illusion of reality set by the book. I'm not going for that POV but I'm not sure if a few pieces of my WIP fit with the rest of the story.

    Here's a few pieces:
    'Heading to the door they encountered a problem. A five pound, copper-feathered, chicken with serious attitude. It leapt over the zucchini with a wild caw, wings flapping and talons flashing.'

    'A rolling field of toys was booby trapped with pillow forts, landmines of barbies and toy soldiers and the edges riddled with fallen stacks of paper, wet paintings, open paint tubes and the still wet brushes laying on the floor. The entire place screamed “Kids were here!” If Clara or Owen saw this they were all dead. Deader than dead. There would be no resurrection or after life.'

    'Its massive body struck the ground of dirt and rocks, kicking up swirling clouds of dirt around its belly and flippers. Its large tail served as a ballast as it shifted backward, allowing its long neck to lower the large-square head to Rick’s eye level. Its eyes narrowed as it realized it was just another spectator: Eyes goggling, mouth open and if that lolling tongue wasn’t slobbering the glass enough the puffs of breath were fogging it just fine. It let out a puff of water and tiny air bubbles at Rick as it swam away. The rush of water and bubbles against the glass was like a heavy rain on a metal roof. Rick fell back on his butt, heart racing.
    “Nice to meet you too.” He snorted. “And I’m not a pip squeak.” He took four steps when he stopped. Why had he said that? It hadn’t said anything, it couldn’t even speak!'

    'Slowly it unlatched itself from the cage and dropped to its shelf. Rick took a better look at the cat. IT WAS HUGE! Rick thought a siberian tiger was fierce looking but it was a duckling compared to that thing!'


    Does this sound like any intrusions of a first person POV? Or does it seem centered in limited 3rd?
     
  2. Lorna

    Lorna Grandmaster

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    I'll put the parts that sound like they could be taken for first person in italics.

    'Heading to the door they encountered a problem. A five pound, copper-feathered, chicken with serious attitude. It leapt over the zucchini with a wild caw, wings flapping and talons flashing.'

    This isn't an objective observation. It takes a subject to look at a chicken and derive it's got 'serious attitude.' Because the thought isn't attriibuted to another character I assumed it's first person.

    'A rolling field of toys was booby trapped with pillow forts, landmines of barbies and toy soldiers and the edges riddled with fallen stacks of paper, wet paintings, open paint tubes and the still wet brushes laying on the floor. The entire place screamed “Kids were here!” If Clara or Owen saw this they were all dead. Deader than dead. There would be no resurrection or after life.'

    If a place screams it screams to somebody. Again, in the absence of characters - narrator. The remarks about Clara and Owen killing the children presupposes the narrator knows them. They're not here in the scene.

    'Its massive body struck the ground of dirt and rocks, kicking up swirling clouds of dirt around its belly and flippers. Its large tail served as a ballast as it shifted backward, allowing its long neck to lower the large-square head to Rick’s eye level. Its eyes narrowed as it realized it was just another spectator: Eyes goggling, mouth open and if that lolling tongue wasn’t slobbering the glass enough the puffs of breath were fogging it just fine. It let out a puff of water and tiny air bubbles at Rick as it swam away. The rush of water and bubbles against the glass was like a heavy rain on a metal roof. Rick fell back on his butt, heart racing.

    Conversational- narrator addressing reader. Then there's the problem of the shift to Rick's POV. Only Rick can know his heart's racing.

    “Nice to meet you too.” He snorted. “And I’m not a pip squeak.” He took four steps when he stopped. Why had he said that? It hadn’t said anything, it couldn’t even speak!'

    'Slowly it unlatched itself from the cage and dropped to its shelf. Rick took a better look at the cat. IT WAS HUGE! Rick thought a siberian tiger was fierce looking but it was a duckling compared to that thing!'

    The last sentence was confusing and needs rephrasing. A siberian tiger's fierce looking but compared to that thing it's a duckling, thought Rick.

    You've got some cool, bizarre descriptions going on there.
     
  3. Addison

    Addison Dark Lord

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    "You've got some cool, bizarre descriptions going on there." Thanks. :)

    So the parts you italicized. Maybe if I made them....more objective. Like taking a step back and writing them in observation. Or if I write those parts as a character's thoughts? For a time I thought this was how Omniscient narrative sounded.
     
  4. Benjamin Clayborne

    Benjamin Clayborne Dark Lord

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    There's nothing wrong with the narrator having a personality or opinion, but it's harder to do well. The simplest form (in my opinion) is third-person limited: the narrator knows nothing more than the current POV character, and the narrator is not in fact a person of any kind; the tale is simply being related through the eyes of the character (but with a little remove, as it's third- and not first-person).

    Fantasy doesn't tend to do this as much (except in children's fantasy) because fantasy tends to be about the beings and doings, rather than someone's opinion of what's going on. But there's nothing wrong with doing it, if you can pull it off without being distracting.

    For my part, I'm sticking with pure 3rd limited. For now. :)
     
  5. Addison

    Addison Dark Lord

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    So are you saying my examples were okay or are they leaning too much toward first person?
     
  6. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Your examples are fine. 3rd limited the narrative can have personality. It can be colored by the pov character. It's fine to have sentences that sound like direct thoughts and not put them into italics. You can have this because your in close. The thing about third limited is you can pull back and zoom in close as you please in the narrative without disruption. So you could have italics for thoughts or not depending on how you say something. You can zoom in so close it's almost like first person. Check out some books and see how the pros do it.
     
    Addison likes this.
  7. Addison

    Addison Dark Lord

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    Great. Thanks Penpilot. Do you know any books which discuss 3rd limited itself? Or good fantasy books written in 3rd limited?
     
  8. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Here are a couple of podcasts episodes that discuss it. That really helped me

    Writing excuses - a posdcast done by four pros
    WE 5.1: Third Person Limited » Writing Excuses

    The writing show. This pod cast really set me straight on getting how pov works. I've listened to it a bunch of times.
    The Writing Show - Information and Inspiration for Writers

    A book that I read that discusses pov by Orson Scott Card. I've read it several times.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0898799279?ie=UTF8&force-full-site=1&ref_=aw_bottom_links

    As for a novel to look at, just pick a few, good, bad, and in between and read a few pages. You'll start to get a sense of how what you do compares in terms of use of pov.
     
  9. Addison

    Addison Dark Lord

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    Thanks Pen. :)
     
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