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Switching Narrator POV

Crumbly Writer

I've long believed that authors should understand who their narrator is in order to better understand how to present their story. Over the years, I've used the traditional fireside storyteller, story characters or relatives or descendants, all of whom have the benefit of time and familiarity with those involved to understand what happened. However, lately I've been considering advancing that idea a bit by revealing the narrator's perspective.

Without discussing details (as it's a major story reveal), I'm hoping to switch a story told in 3rd person omni into a 1st person mid-way through the final chapter. It would read something like:

Bob walked along the street, oblivious to what was soon to occur.
"Hello Bob," I said.
"Who the hell is this?" he demanded, spinning in a circle, searching for anyone near enough to speak to him.

The obvious question is, how can I make this work without it becoming incredibly confusing for readers? Does anyone have any insights, clues or suggestions?

I'm considering rewriting the entire story to reflect the narrator's perspective without revealing who it is, but I'm having trouble figuring out how to handle the switch between 3rd to 1st (actually from the all-knowing storyteller talking about the characters to his talking to the characters).

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I'm considering rewriting the entire story to reflect the narrator's perspective without revealing who it is, but I'm having trouble figuring out how to handle the switch between 3rd to 1st (actually from the all-knowing storyteller talking about the characters to his talking to the characters).


The movie The Princess Bride actually starts with a man telling the story to his grandson.

You could pull a twist on this. Start with a scene of a the narrator telling the story to someone, only later reviling that the opening scene is God relating the story to a profit.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

You could pull a twist on this. Start with a scene of a the narrator telling the story to someone, only later reviling that the opening scene is God relating the story to a profit.

Unfortunately, that relies on leaving the opening scenes sketchy (and therefore unconvincing, which weakens the entire story). It also doesn't resolve the final transition. The only way I could imagine your scenario is to rewrite the opening scene from someone else's (God's?) perspective to reveal something new, a technique which rarely succeeds, and no readers wants to read the exact same scene over.

It's an intriguing idea, and what I'm going for, but it doesn't help with the implementation.

I guess to be more specific, I'm largely asking for techniques to successfully transition from 3rd Omni to 1st person POV mid-scene.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

I guess to be more specific, I'm largely asking for techniques to successfully transition from 3rd Omni to 1st person POV mid-scene.

Is a "scene" really so fixed?
Could you use two scenes instead of attempting a major change "mid-scene"?
Why not?

Bob left and headed off down the street.

CHAPTER HEADING

"Hello Bob," I said as he walked along the street, oblivious to what was soon to occur.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

I'm having trouble figuring out how to handle the switch between 3rd to 1st (actually from the all-knowing storyteller talking about the characters to his talking to the characters).


Never seen that done convincingly, so I can't help you with it. The best advice I can offer is to write it all in the first person and have a change of narrator when you want to show something away from the main character, the way I did in Rough Diamond.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Is a "scene" really so fixed?
Could you use two scenes instead of attempting a major change "mid-scene"?
Why not?

If I'm saving the final reveal as a climatic surprise to the story, then it needs to 'come in out of the blue'. Dedicating an entire chapter to the new POV character means there's little surprise (at least that something major is afoot, if not who precisely is speaking).

What's more, the narrator only reveals themselves at the moment they speak to the main character (and they realize there's anyone else observing and manipulating them).

But then again, that's why I'm asking, because I can't figure out how to transition between 3rd to 1st. The idea that a specific narrator would describe the action in the story in 3rd person (when they aren't present) in the story is natural, but having them speak up in the 1st would be).

Basically, it seems like an intriguing idea, cut I'm not sure there's any way to implement it.

The way I envision it is the narrator is an unseen character essentially pulling all the strings, who only reveals themselves at the end when they actually speak to the main character (i.e. they actually 'do' something, as opposed to things occurring to the main character who doesn't recognize what's happening).

It sounds like I need to can the entire idea.

StarFleet Carl

@Dominions Son

God relating the story to a profit


profit - a financial gain, especially the difference between the amount earned and the amount spent in buying, operating, or producing something

prophet - a person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God

There's a post on the forum about immersion breakers - this qualifies. Not to say that a prophet might not be out for a profit, but still ... :)

REP

@Crumbly Writer

how to handle the switch between 3rd to 1st


One way to do it would be to have your narrator as one of the background characters who is there in the story but not an active participant until the end when they switch to a 1st person POV.

awnlee_jawking

@Crumbly Writer

oblivious to what was soon to occur


I'm not a fan of that type of foreshadowing. 'It' either occurs, and is a surprise to the reader, or 'it' doesn't. Foreshadowing weakens the surprise with no apparent benefit.

As for the switch to 1st person, why is it necessary? Can't the disembodied voice just be another character?

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Capt. Zapp

@Crumbly Writer

Bob walked along the street, oblivious to what was soon to occur.
"Hello Bob," I said.
"Who the hell is this?" he demanded, spinning in a circle, searching for anyone near enough to speak to him.


Instead of using the 'I said' to change PoV, how about having "Hello Bob" by itself with no explanation of where it came from, then having your new character reveal himself and take over the scene.

Bob walked along the street, oblivious to what was soon to occur.
"Hello Bob."
"Who the hell is this?" he demanded, spinning in a circle, searching for anyone near enough to speak to him.
I stepped out of the shadows and revealed myself to him.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

I'm not sure what you want to do, but maybe you can have a 1st-person omniscient narrator who is an unknown to the reader in the beginning. He could introduce himself vaguely. So most of the story would be written exactly the way it is now.

Some unknown know-it-all is relaying a story and then at the end that narrator enters the story.

But how will that narrator be a know-it-all? It could be what happens before his surprise entrance happened in the past and he's privy to that information. Of course he wouldn't know what each character's thoughts, only their actions. And then when he makes his presence in the story, it's current time (in the story).

richardshagrin

@Dominions Son

God relating the story to a profit.

Amateur proof-reader here. Perhaps the party God converses with is a prophet?

Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

Amateur proof-reader here.


This is a forum, not a story. Perhaps, you are in need of a recatalcraniectomy. :)

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee_jawking

As for the switch to 1st person, why is it necessary? Can't the disembodied voice just be another character?

I wanted to reveal the person speaking as being the narrator of the story (i.e. the one revealing what happened, since they knew the details better than anyone else). I was also hoping to interject some narrator perspective throughout the story, which when he's revealed, will cause the reader to go 'of course!'.

However, thinking about it some more, hanging the recognition by the reader, on a single pronoun, is problematic, especially since most authors/books have so many pronoun errors. Instead, I'm now considering something more along the lines of:

Bob walked along the street, unconcerned with what was around him.
"Hello Bob."
"Who the hell is this?" he demanded, spinning in a circle, searching for anyone near enough to speak to him.
"Don't worry, it's me," I revealed. "We spoke before, but you assumed it was only a dream since you were asleep at the time. We felt it's time to bring you up to date on what's happening."

While not without difficulties, that's a slightly smoother transition than resting the entire exchange on a single pronoun. By the way, thanks Capt. Zapp for the suggestion.

@Switch

But how will that narrator be a know-it-all? It could be what happens before his surprise entrance happened in the past and he's privy to that information. Of course he wouldn't know what each character's thoughts, only their actions. And then when he makes his presence in the story, it's current time (in the story).

The narrator, in this sense, knows everything that happens because he was there, observing the events as they unfolded, as well as observing the actions of each character. In essence, they're the traditional fireside storyteller, embellishing slightly in the telling to create a better story. Technically, they don't know what everyone thinks, but they could reasonable guess as they went along, especially if they could read everyone's thoughts (and not just the main character's).

That's part of the big reveal, exposing the reach of the narrator, developing their role throughout the story.

As far as the reveal being 'in real time', that doesn't necessarily follow. 1st person stories are often told in the past tense, as it's understood the action occurred in the past, after everyone had time to reflect on the actions.

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Amateur proof-reader here. Perhaps the party God converses with is a prophet?

Technically, more miracle worker than profit, though he does have a message to convey to the world, so they're pretty similar (basically concerning how the narrators screwed up! The contents of the story reveal how they attempted to set the world right, once again).

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

As far as the reveal being 'in real time', that doesn't necessarily follow. 1st person stories are often told in the past tense, as it's understood the action occurred in the past, after everyone had time to reflect on the actions.


When I said "current time" I didn't mean the present. I meant the current time in the story. So the 1st-person narrator is telling a story that led up to that time in the story (but it's all in the past).

awnlee jawking

@richardshagrin

When it comes to religions, aren't prophet and profit synonymous?

AJ

REP

@Crumbly Writer

We felt it's time to bring you up to date on what's happening."

If the narrator is not expressing the view of a group, I believe We should be I.

Personally, the idea of a group forming the views expressed by a 3rd person Omni narrator would be an interesting sub-plot, if you can figure out a way to do that.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@REP

If the narrator is not expressing the view of a group, I believe We should be I.

The narrator is expressing the views of a group, though that's one of the story spoilers, so I can't provide any details without ... spoiling the story.

sejintenej

Going back to the start I am currently reading two stories involving the views of two or more people.

In the first the main narrator is in the first person but very occasionally a series of paragraphs is headed by the name of the second character who features in the first person's words. This, for me, is easy because her insertion is very rare and is her take on what he has already recounted. Clear and understandable.

the second story involves a multitude of people (too many IMHO)and the week's chapter starts with the name of that narrator -it is a separate series of events not necessarily tying in with previous (or later) chapters. Too much jumping about.
To be completely honest about this story it is the result of many story mergers and in some of those early stories the author took the same style as I narrated in the first story so he is well capable of writing clearly in that manner.

To sum up, for me the author should use the second person's contributions conservatively, head their paragraphs clearly and have their words tie in with the rest of the story. It's possible but not necessarily easy.

Ross at Play

I am curious ...
Has anyone here ever written a first draft in third person POV, and then revised it so most or all was changed to first person POV?
If so, was that process ... relatively easy, difficult, virtually impossible, ... ?

richardshagrin

@Ross at Play

If so, was that process ... relatively easy, difficult, virtually impossible, ... ?

Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn't have to do it.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

Has anyone here ever written a first draft in third person POV, and then revised it so most or all was changed to first person POV?


I wrote several chapters in 1st and then re-wrote them in 3rd. It's relatively easy, but there are some gotchas you catch when editing.

The reason I say it's rather easy for me is because my 3rd is a close 3rd-limited.

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

I wrote several chapters in 1st and then re-wrote them in 3rd.


I've been down that road too. A rather boring, mechanical process but I think the story was improved as a result.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde


I wrote several chapters in 1st and then re-wrote them in 3rd. It's relatively easy, but there are some gotchas you catch when editing.

The reason I say it's rather easy for me is because my 3rd is a close 3rd-limited.

Thanks for the reply, but I have a specific reason for wanting to know about 3rd to 1st revisions, not the other way around.

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

A rather boring, mechanical process

That suggests it's definitely possible.
Mechanical can get boring quickly. Was it long and time consuming?

SB suggested when going the other way, "It's relatively easy, but there are some gotchas you catch when editing."
Would you agree it needs a couple of edits to catch all the errors?

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

No, I went in the same direction as SB because 1st turned out to be too restrictive for the story.

I would guess it's a lot harder going in the other direction if you're going to be meticulous about reporting only what the protagonist experiences.

Do you have a story which needs to be changed from 3rd to 1st? I'd be interested in taking a look to see if I can spot any pitfalls.

AJ

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

I would guess it's a lot harder going in the other direction if you're going to be meticulous about reporting only what the protagonist experiences.


I do that in 3rd-limited anyway so that's not what's hard. I think the hardest thing switching between 1st and 3rd is the voice of the narrator.

In 1st, the narrator's voice is the character's voice. Imagine Huck Finn written in 3rd. The dialogue wouldn't change, but the narrative sure would.

Ross at Play

To AJ & SB

This is what I previously wrote explaining my reason for wanting to know how hard it is to convert from 3rd to 1st.

I SUSPECT (and I'm playing the devil's advocate here)
# The notion that readers identify more closely with characters when 1POV is used is probably complete rubbish, and I see no limit to how closely readers will identify with a well written in 3POV
# If any benefits do exist, they are not sufficient to justify accepting compromises in the plot;
# If that so, writers should not start writing in 1POV until after they have finalised their major decisions about the plot;
# Any decision to use 1POV can only be made after the author knows what information needs to be known by characters and readers, and when.

My sincere, but under-informed, advice to any author who is not sure they know what they are doing is to write their first drafts in 3POV omni, and only make decisions to revise that to a closer POV after verifying it is possible - based upon what information must be known, by whom, and when.

I think the accepted wisdom about 1POV has become like the sirens of Greek mythology, constantly luring unwary authors to steer novels in directions which doom them to become shipwrecks!

Thus, this comment by AJ is not relevant: I would guess it's a lot harder going in the other direction if you're going to be meticulous about reporting only what the protagonist experiences.
If what I am thinking of is practical, authors would not attempt a conversion when the protagonist's experiences could not be reported effectively.

However, this comment by SB suggests my idea is impractical: In 1st, the narrator's voice is the character's voice. Imagine Huck Finn written in 3rd. The dialogue wouldn't change, but the narrative sure would.

Maybe I can try an experiment of rewriting Pride and Prejudice in 1POV. I somehow doubt readers would feel any more involved with the fate of Elizabeth Bennett. :-) That is essentially the reason for my suspicion that the accepted wisdom about 1POV has become like the sirens of Greek mythology.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

advice to any author who is not sure they know what they are doing is to write their first drafts in 3POV omni, and only make decisions to revise that to a closer POV after verifying it is possible


That would be a mistake.

Going from 1st to 3rd-limited or vise versa is relatively easy (unless the story is told from multiple POVs). Going from omni to 1st or 3rd-limited is very, very hard (sorry Mark Twain, but this is when "very" IS needed).

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Maybe I can try an experiment of rewriting Pride and Prejudice in 1POV. I somehow doubt readers would feel any more involved with the fate of Elizabeth Bennett. :-) That is essentially the reason for my suspicion that the accepted wisdom about 1POV has become like the sirens of Greek mythology.

I would think you'd choose first (as many do) because you want to fully explore the character, by expanding them into the narrative, where they'd potentially have a greater vocal range (making snide comments about others).

Some authors would be good at this, but if you're not good at capturing a character's particular voice (how they express themselves in a way which reveals how they're feeling at any given time), it wouldn't add much by switching to 1st. On the other hand, for those who can capture those character elements, they wouldn't want to write in anything but first (hence the continual admonitions from many authors about only using 1st).

Note: Written by someone not particularly good at capturing accents and varying characters' voices.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

(sorry Mark Twain, but this is when "very" IS needed)

Excuse me, but shouldn't that be "excruciatingly difficult", or "as difficult as scaling the icy walls of Martha's religious superiority".

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

I would think you'd choose first (as many do) because you want to fully explore the character, by expanding them into the narrative, where they'd potentially have a greater vocal range (making snide comments about others).

Thanks. That is the potential - available only in 1POV - that I'd been overlooking.
It was just an idea. You have convinced me to flush it down the toilet.

sejintenej

@Ross at Play

I SUSPECT (and I'm playing the devil's advocate here)

# The notion that readers identify more closely with characters when 1POV is used is probably complete rubbish, and I see no limit to how closely readers will identify with a well written in 3POV

I agree with that; it would be far too easy for 1POV to appear boastful. You might get away with it in a very very short story but I would very likely drop the story if it got over a few pages.

Ross at Play

@sejintenej

My initial suggestion was:
The notion that readers identify more closely with characters when 1POV is used is probably complete rubbish

You may agree with me, but I no longer do! :-)

My revised opinion (based on CW's comment just above) is:
Readers do not "identify more" with characters because 1POV is used;
But, writers may be able to define characters better when they fully exploit the potential for 1POV.
That potential is essentially being able to show the opinions of the MC about the actions of other characters.

I was hoping the safe option for someone starting their first complex work(s), and not yet sure where the plot may end up taking them, would be to write the first draft in 3POV omni. Then (I had hoped) after finishing their draft, some plots would allow a revision using 1POV and others would not.

I now think that is unwise. The result of a conversion to 1POV would certainly be inferior to one with the first draft written in 1POV.

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

But, writers may be able to define characters better when they fully exploit the potential for 1POV.


Except you really only get better definition of the POV character. You actually lose some ability to define other characters to the same depth.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

That potential is essentially being able to show the opinions of the MC about the actions of other characters.


You can do that in 3rd-limited. It doesn't have to be in 1st. Since the scene is from the POV character's perspective, everything that goes on is the way he views it.

For example, in the novel I recently finished, the girlfriend's mother is introduced as a stuck-up rich woman. Because that's how the protagonist sees her. Then there's more interaction between them and the reader and the protagonist learn that she's not what he originally thought. It happens to be written in 1st-person with the protagonist narrating, but it would be the same in 3rd-limited.

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son


Except you really only get better definition of the POV character. You actually lose some ability to define other characters to the same depth.

Agreed, so the writer must choose which character(s) matter more.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

You can do that in 3rd-limited. It doesn't have to be in 1st. Since the scene is from the POV character's perspective, everything that goes on is the way he views it.

Yes.
To be more specific about why I started this debate ...
I was looking for a safe option for new writers - so the limitations of the POV they have chosen will not limit where the plot may take them.
1st vs 3rd does not change how safe the POV choice is. It is limited vs not-limited that does that.

Could you be a bit more specific?
Supposing a new writer thinks their plot might be suitable for 1POV, but they're too inexperienced to be certain.
Can they start writing in 3rd-limited?
If the plot takes them to unexpected places (they find a need for chapters where the MC is not present) they continue on and the story ends up being effectively 3rd-omni.
If all goes well, and they've been able to use 3rd-limited all the way through, they can then attempt a conversion to 1st.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

If the plot takes them to unexpected places (they find a need for chapters where the MC is not present)


If you're writing in 1st and that happens, you're stuck. If you write in 3rd-limited, then it's no problem. You can switch POV characters at a scene change (that's not omni, each scene is 3rd-limited from a different character's POV). That's how most novels today are written.

btw, new writers think 1st-person is easier because it seems more natural. But it's not. For example, how do you describe the 1st-person narrator? (Please don't say he sees himself in the mirror.)

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

If you're writing in 1st and that happens, you're stuck. (But if) you write in 3rd-limited, then it's no problem ...

THANKS. It's very reassuring to see it stated that simply by someone who does know.

Ross at Play

@sejintenej

See my last comment responding to @SwitchBlayde.
I've gone back to my original opinion - the one you agreed with. :-)

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

If you're writing in 1st and that happens, you're stuck.


That's handled by have a new narrator for that chapter. I do that in Rough Diamond.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I now think that is unwise. The result of a conversion to 1POV would certainly be inferior to one with the first draft written in 1POV.

Expressing what the MC thinks of everyone else will likely affect how the MC and other characters respond to each other, necessarily changing the way the story unfolds (ex. the assholes must be punished eventually, one way or another).

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Except you really only get better definition of the POV character. You actually lose some ability to define other characters to the same depth.

Except, the argument most 1st Person authors claim is that it makes the story 'more personal'. It does that, supposedly, by allowing the reader to identify fully with the main character, while at the same time not being distracted my minor secondary characters.

3rd gives more details of everyone, while decreasing the intimacy of the MC.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

It happens to be written in 1st-person with the protagonist narrating, but it would be the same in 3rd-limited.

Except, while 3rd-limited can reveal the MC's thoughts occasionally, 1st allows those thoughts to take a predominant role (via the narrative). In 3rd-limited, the narrative is still largely impartial.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

If the plot takes them to unexpected places (they find a need for chapters where the MC is not present) they continue on and the story ends up being effectively 3rd-omni.
If all goes well, and they've been able to use 3rd-limited all the way through, they can then attempt a conversion to 1st.

Or more traditionally, if writing the story in 3rd doesn't work, they scratch the entire story and rewrite the entire thing in 1st. If neither works, they then write it from the POV of the tentacle monster!

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

For example, how do you describe the 1st-person narrator? (Please don't say he sees himself in the mirror.)

"I'm God's literal gift to women (and a few men), as I'm generous, confident, intelligent and unbearably witty. I pity everyone else in the world!"

Replies:   sejintenej
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

That's handled by have a new narrator for that chapter. I do that in Rough Diamond.

It could also be handled by the alien pod which takes over the MC's personality. ;D

Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

That's handled by having a new narrator for that chapter.

Yes, it is possible.
Very experienced may know they are capable of pulling that off if it becomes necessary.
What is the result when a novice writer attempts it and does not pull it off?
I've seen that attempted and the results makes me feel like I need to re-enact "that scene" from The Exorcist!

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

then write it from the POV of the tentacle monster!

Writers on SoL usually prefer the POV of the testicle monster!

Crumbly Writer

Generally, most authors realize where their particular strengths lie and will gravitate to those types of stories. The danger is when they try for a particular effect without realizing the implications and end up unable to continue. I also suspect younger writers gravitate to 1st simply because they've seen it more in YA novels, while we older folks prefer the more traditional 3rd omni.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Except, while 3rd-limited can reveal the MC's thoughts occasionally, 1st allows those thoughts to take a predominant role (via the narrative). In 3rd-limited, the narrative is still largely impartial.


Not true in 3rd-limited.

3rd-limited is basically the same as 1st except for the pronouns. Most of the time the POV character's thoughts are actually in the narrative, not internal dialogue (italics). For example (John is the POV character):

John opened the door to the empty room. Where was everyone?

"Where was everyone?" is what John is thinking, but it's in the narrative. The reader knows it's John's thoughts because the scene is from his POV.

The story is written in past tense so "was" is used. If it was internal dialogue, it would be:

Where is everyone? John thought.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater


That's handled by have a new narrator for that chapter.


That's very difficult to do well. The voice would have to be different. That's hard enough to do in dialogue, but in the narrative too... Very hard.

Also, for me, it defeats the main purpose of writing in 1st-person.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Not true in 3rd-limited.

3rd-limited is basically the same as 1st except for the pronouns. Most of the time the POV character's thoughts are actually in the narrative, not internal dialogue (italics).

"largely impartial" implies that, while 3rd limited is more direct than 3rd, the narrative isn't as expressive as the character would be in 1st. The past tense and 3rd person provides distance between the character and the reader.

However, 3rd limited isn't as widely used.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

Woof woof ;)

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

Most writers start with what they know and their first stories are frequently a combination of autobiographical detail and Mary Sue, easiest to write in 1POV.

The current trend for experienced authors seems to be 3POV limited, and that's the direction Creative Writing courses seem to be encouraging authors to take.

AJ

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

Woof woof ;)

Penny for your thoughts ;)

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

However, 3rd limited isn't as widely used.


It's the most widely used POV in genre fiction today.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

"largely impartial" implies that, while 3rd limited is more direct than 3rd, the narrative isn't as expressive as the character would be in 1st.


The narrative is the same. The voice is different in the narrative. The voice in the narrative in 3rd-limited is more formal. In 1st it's more conversational.

The past tense and 3rd person provides distance between the character and the reader.


I don't know about the "past tense" part, but 3rd does provide distance between the character and reader.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

Penny for your thoughts ;)


With a Penny, you only get boring thoughts ;)

AJ

sejintenej

@Crumbly Writer

For example, how do you describe the 1st-person narrator? (Please don't say he sees himself in the mirror.)

"I'm God's literal gift to women (and a few men), as I'm generous, confident, intelligent and unbearably witty. I pity everyone else in the world!"

But you omitted the fact that you are self-righteous bastard who works his employees to the bone whilst blackmailing their 15 year old daughters into his bed and selling the videos and ......

(That is not you CW!°

awnlee jawking

@sejintenej

But you omitted the fact that you are self-righteous bastard


Would a self-righteous person describe themselves as a bastard?

Besides, being God's gift to humanity, the narrator is doing his bit for humanity by propagating his superior genes, making something good come from the wanton daughters of his work-shy employees. It's his moral duty!

AJ

sejintenej

@awnlee jawking

Besides, being God's gift to humanity, the narrator is doing his bit for humanity by propagating his superior genes, making something good come from the wanton daughters of his work-shy employees. It's his moral duty!

That is what HE thinks - not necessarily what others think; the 3rd person narrator is far more likely to tell the truth

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

Would a self-righteous person describe themselves as a bastard?

There are surely self-righteous bastards willing to describe themselves as bastards.
Also surely self-righteous bastards willing to describe themselves as self-righteous.
BUT are there any self-righteous bastards capable of recognising they are both self-righteous and bastards?

Your narrator could well see it as their moral duty to be a bastard, but they would think the others deserved it, and not see they were being self-righteous.

Ross at Play

@sejintenej

the 3rd person narrator is far more likely to tell the truth

I agree with you, but would add ...
the 1st person narrator would be incapable of knowing the truth

BTW, are you capable of seeing we are both being ultra-pedantic arseholes? ;)

sejintenej

@Ross at Play

BTW, are you capable of seeing we are both being ultra-pedantic arseholes? ;)


Sorry, can't be. Now if you leave out the R then you could be right ;)

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@sejintenej

Sorry, can't be. Now if you leave out the R then you could be right ;)

Must be the most ultra-pedantic asshole of a post I've seen in a while. ;)

awnlee jawking

@sejintenej

That is what HE thinks


Well yes, HE is the 1st person narrator.

AJ

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I don't know about the "past tense" part, but 3rd does provide distance between the character and reader.

Both 3rd (any form) and past tend to provide distance from the story, though in 3rd, this is considered beneficial as the reader can identify with many characters, rather than just the one. The only thing is, the connection to many isn't as intense as the connection to the one.

I still contend that 1st limited is a middle ground between 1st and 3rd and between constant present and past tense stories.

@Awnlee

With a Penny, you only get boring thoughts ;)

Or broken, disjointed thoughts.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

That is not you CW!

The point is, most people like to see themselves as the dashing hero. Certainly not as the evil villain. Thus they'll paint themselves as larger than life (ex: "I'm HUGE and everybody LOVES me!!!").

If you want to steal the line for your story, I'd start with a self-aggrandizing piece, then a counter point by someone telling him off, followed by a self-reflective reassessment of his actual reputation among most people. That provides a nice immersion into the character, showing how they perceive themselves, how others see them and their inner conflicts over the two. A great start (in a short space) for any story.

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

It's his moral duty!

Or in the case of self-righteous bastards, is that "moral duty" or "moral doodey"? ;)

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

BTW, are you capable of seeing we are both being ultra-pedantic arseholes? ;)

But, can you both recognize that you're both ultra-pedantic and arseholes? You may have to pick one or the other.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

you're both ultra-pedantic and arseholes? You may have to pick one or the other.

We came to an understanding:
# I was being an ultra-pedantic arsehole
# He was being an ultra-pedantic asshole
QED ;)

richardshagrin

We are past tents, we live in bungalows now.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

@Awnlee

With a Penny, you only get boring thoughts ;)
Or broken, disjointed thoughts.


Apologies, Ross and I were having a little in-joke, for which one of my stories is required. I won't name it because it sends people into a headspin ;)

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


(as an FYI to CW) Ross and I were having a little in-joke


Which makes me think of something that surely belongs on CW's 'Writing Quotes' thread.

I am sure my idea is not original, but not knowing who has said it before, I'm going to head off there and add my own quote about writing.

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

We are past tents, we live in bungalows now.

No truer words have ever been spoken by an author. :)

In my case, I think I'm past waxing about past (and present) tents.

Slutsinger

The Fifth Season, last year's Hugo winner for best novel does a great job of this switch. As a reader getting to that point in the book was one of the most powerful moments of the year. It's well worth the read.

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