A Further Look at Third Person POVs

A Further Look at Third Person POVs
March 22, 2016 No Comments » Writing J.K. Allen

Last week we talked about POVs, but this week I thought we’d focus more on third person POVs and the differences between third person limited and third person omniscient.

Third person is a very common POV to write in so readers are very comfortable with it. Nowadays it is more common to use third person limited, which works similarly to first person as far as reader immersion and connection to the character go. Third limited uses he, she, and they pronouns but closely follows one POV character, giving the reader access to their thoughts and feelings. This can be just as personal as first person, allowing your reader to step into your POV character’s shoes. This POV is also great for Showing Not Telling. One example of this POV is Harry Potter.

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Third person omniscient uses he, she, and they pronouns as well but works as an all-seeing, all-knowing God-like narrator separate from the characters in the story. Which is why it’s not as widely used today because it creates the most distance from reader to character. This POV allows the author to dip into the head of every character and has the ability to show the reader every characters’ thoughts and feelings. To avoid head hopping, keep one character’s POV at a time and use transitions and physical cues to change from one character to the next (John’s POV changes to Mary’s when he touches his hand on her shoulder). The third omniscient limited POV is when you follow one character closely, as in third limited, but you switch between multiple POV characters. One example of this is George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) series. Omniscient POV is good for plot driven stories and can lead to telling rather than showing so you should watch out for that pitfall.

That’s a closer overview of the differences between third person limited and third person omniscient. Have any questions or tips for either POV? Have a personal favorite? Tell me what you think in the comments below and happy writing!

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J.K. Allen Julia Allen received her BA in Creative Writing and English from Michigan State University. She did her senior thesis in poetry under the tutelage of Diane Wakoski, but has been focused primarily on fiction as of late. Common writing themes that can be found in her work address identity and the type of strength that can be found in ordinary people. Julia is currently working on a Young Adult fantasy novel and can be found at local cafes in her hometown when writing, and painting, drawing, or reading when not.

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