Viewpoint or Point of View (POV) is critical to your story. The Point of View allows the reader to experience someone else’s (yours or the character’s) view of the world. Last Monday we looked at First Person viewpoint. Today we take a look at Third Person.
This is a lesson we teach in Authors Academy and much of the material comes from there.
Third Person, in my opinion, is the preferred method to use. It is the “he”, “she” or “it” viewpoint. This is the POV that I consistently use when writing my books. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of this viewpoint.
The advantages of this POV are:
- an outside view of the person
You, the narrator, can talk about other facts, events and people.
- you can have additional characters in third person
you can have other POV characters.
- unlimited worldview
- In the first person you were restricted by the author’s or character’s thoughts and opinions.
- But in third person the narrator and reader have access to other information – thus expanding the scene.
- greater objectivity – in first person you only have the character’s opinion of self, but in third Person you see much more and can make better judgments.
- hidden information – In third person the author can keep some facts about the character secret until later in the story.
The above advantages simply overwhelm the disadvantages below. While I have read and enjoyed First Person viewpoints, for the most part I have enjoyed Third Person much more.
But there are disadvantages. These include:
- separated involvement
With first person you had instant involvement, but here there exists separation or distance between the character and the reader.
It is more difficult to identify the class and education of the character.
Awkward. The thinking, etc, is not as visible as it is with first person.
Tip #1 – Choose your POV carefully. First person identifies more closely with the character, while third person more distant. Also, third person is better, perhaps necessary, when dealing with multiple characters.
Tip #2 – When conveying a character’s thoughts put it in italics. Not a hard rule, but I recommend it.
First Person: I thought to myself, What a wonderful day!
Third Person: He looked about, smiling. What a wonderful day!
Be careful with your POV. It is very easy to forget which POV you are using. The result can be disastrous.
I do not recommend First Person, although many authors have done so successfully. It takes a lot of hard work and skill. And in my opinion is too limiting.
Be aware also that there are many variations of both first person and third person viewpoints. I recommend that you buy a good reference book on the subject. There are many resources, including Writers Digest.
That said, I indicated earlier that I write in Third Person. Actually I practice something a little different: Multiple Third Person. It is the most difficult of all to master. But if you do, it is worth it. We will discuss it next Monday.
Your comments are welcome. Just go to my Facebook page and leave a comment about this article.
– – – – – – –
R. Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.