02 March 2013

He did what, with who, for how much?

Continuing on my series regarding point of view, I’m going to skip second person for now and address one of the third person styles.  I’ve heard it called third person focused or third person limited.  Both offer the same concept.

Let me first define the POV.  Third Person Limited is characterized by the standard third person pronouns - he, she, it, they.  It is similar to First Person in that everything in the story filters through the view point character, but the reader has taken a step back from the characters.

What’s the advantage of using this POV?

Not all stories need the intimate closeness of the first person POV, but they do need a narrowing of the focus.  This selection allows that narrowing without having to talk with the I pronoun.  It also allows you to see things from just one character, not worry about the fifty others in the room.  You might still get a glimpse of the character’s thoughts, but the narrator has more filter than the main character.

So where’s my disadvantage?

Readers will comment that stories written in this point of view don’t feel as easy to connect with the characters.  Some stories won’t work well with the limits this presents.  You’ll not be able to give the reader enough information or will have to give them too much, based strictly on what the characters sees and experiences.  

So when should I use third person limited POV?

I can’t state for a fact that this story always makes a good third person limited POV or that story is horrible as one.  Most times, I suggest looking at the scope of the story.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

- How focused does the story need to be?
- Do actions outside the narrator’s view factor into the story that maybe you’ll need to reveal before the narrator knows? 
- Will the story revolve around more than the narrator and/or the main character? 

Think about these questions as you begin to write, allow yourself to dissect the story’s needs, then pick the proper POV for that story.

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