February 7th, 2017

  • mbarker

Writing Excuses 12.6: Variations on Third Person

Writing Excuses 12.6: Variations on Third Person

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2017/02/05/12-6-variations-on-third-person/

Key points: Omniscient: the narrator knows all, sees all, and tells all. Or, the bodyhopper! Beware headhopping confusion, though, and the accidental omniscient. Then there's third person cinematic, just the camera, folks. A good tool for establishing shots! Limited third person uses a single viewpoint character at a time. Very widely used, and lets you handle large casts and epic scope easily, while still knowing what is going on in the viewpoint character's head. Be careful to quickly show us whose head we are in! Why does sci-fi fantasy use this so heavily? History, it feels natural for storytelling, it makes infodumps easy. Maybe because of the roots in short fiction? Third person limited lets you have your background and know a character closely, too. Mostly, though, it's just background -- what you read is what you write!

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[Brandon] Well, I think we're going to call it here. We're going to give you some homework. My homework for you this week is the same as last month's homework, except now with third person. I want you to take the same passage that you may have written in limited, and try the two different forms of omniscient. Try the one that there's like a narrator that's able to say, "What they didn't know…" and things like this, and try the one where you're just body hopping with every paragraph. Or take something you've written in omniscient, and try it in cinematic. Try it in limited. I want you to experiment with these tools and find out how they go. We will be back next week with the Chicago team where we'll be talking really about how to describe and do description through the lens of a third person narrator. We're really excited again to have you guys with us for season 12. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.