Tuesday, February 21, 2012

close third

I read a great story this past weekend in which I felt like I was the character. After I finished reading I thought, How did the author do that? When I went back and looked carefully at the story I was surprised to see it was written in third-person point-of-view rather than first-person.
It's worth reminding ourselves that there are three main point-of-views:
  • first: I
  • second: you
  • third: he/she
AND the distance from the character is independent of the point-of-view. Authors can use any distance with any point-of-view, from very close to very far.

In the story in question, the author used a very close distance; he was right there inside the character's head. The reader was privy to all the character's thoughts and feelings. And the author didn't use any distancing words like "thought", "realized", "felt", "heard", or anything similar. It was extremely effective.

I must admit my third-person pov is not as good. I prefer first-person. When I write third, I tend to include those darn distancing words. Then, when I revise, I have to strike them all out. When I first started writing third-person I wrote the initial draft in first-person and changed it to third in revisions. I may have to go back to that...

What's your favorite pov? What's your favorite distance?


  1. First person, of course. But then you can't get into everyone's head.