#EdenLit - Lessons: Third Person Narrative

Airen Wolf Airen Wolf
Third Person Narrative is probably the most flexible and widely used of all the perspectives. It is the perspective that is most familiar to readers and to beginning authors. Using this perspective can take refinement to remain fresh and exciting. To really stand out the third person perspective should be studied and understood mainly because it is so common!

When an author chooses to use third person perspective the characters are referred to as he, she, it, and they, but never I, we, or you. Now, keep in mind, that this means the narrator never refers to the characters as I, we, or you, but the characters may refer to themselves and/or other characters using these words. In this perspective the narrator is a third person recounting the tale and filling in the gaps for our blind, deaf, and dumb reader rather than being personally involved in it as it is unfolding.
The narrator keeps the continuity of the story going and introduces the scenes with information that the characters may not know or be privy to.

The narrator can convey thoughts and feelings of the characters, as the omniscient narrator, or the narrator can know everything about the “focal character(s)” but nothing about the others. Leaving the secondary characters as unknown (or even unknowable) can be tricky, but it can lend spice to the story. These characters are often the focal point of “fan fiction” type writings. These secondary characters can be the focal point of spin off stories as the author explores their motivations and desires.

In the third person perspective the author/narrator can describe the thoughts and feelings of one or more of the characters in a subjective manner. On the other hand, the author/narrator can let the characters think and speak for themselves in a more objective manner. The author should remember that the narrator is needed to help the reader, who is essentially deaf and blind to the actions that are occurring. For example, if there is a rustle of a skirt that has meaning in the story then the narrator may need to step in and explain the significance or describe the sound more vividly.

The author can use third person narrative to delve into the thoughts, memories, feelings, and motives of many characters to show the real complexity of a story…to flesh it out, so to speak. The author can have an omniscient narrator that knows the first person perspective of the characters but the author MUST be aware of when the change in voice occurs. This is a common mistake of new writers, in that they can see the whole picture but cannot decide how to begin describing it. The easiest way is to find a narrative and perspective and then stick to it!
08/27/2012
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