The third person (he/she/it) is the most common narrative point-of-view. The third person observes the main character(s) from a distance, describing how others might see/consider your protagonist. In other words, it gives the narrator greater scope and view privileges than the first person narrator.
If you are writing an extended piece of fiction, you might find it easier and more accommodating to work with a third person narrator. The following are some varieties of this narrative point-of-view
* Nowadays, it is common to have a third person narrator that observes your main character whilst simultaneously looking over his/her shoulder and seeing the story almost from his/her point of view. This ‘over-the-shoulder’ third person narrator can provide some of the advantages of the first person without the drawbacks – however, it is somewhat limited as you are largely viewing events from your character’s POV. For emerging writers, this third person narrative may be a safer bet if wanting to attract an agent.
* You may want your narrator to be quite separate from your character, however. In which case, you could have your narrator follow him/her from a distance, observing actions as if a camera and not directly informing the reader of the character’s inner thoughts.
* Or you could have an omniscient third person narrator – a ‘God-like’ storyteller who sees all and knows all.
The “It” narrative
This is an unusual form of third person narration that tells a tale from the point of view of an object or an animal. An “it” narrative might conceivably be the story of a ring, told by the ring, as it recounts its many owners etc…
Some books/plays/films are narratives told from various POVs. More common in Victorian prose than in contemporary writing, multi narrators allow for a vigorous description of a community and is useful if the author wants to concentrate on the interconnectivity of a place.
Whichever variety you choose, it is important to be style consistent throughout your work (or if you aren’t, have a reason for that).
November 24th, 2011 at 00:17
This is timely, Sue. It confirms for me that I should stick with my “over the shoulder” third-person narrator. I almost re-wrote the whole thing…better to keep writing at this stage!
November 24th, 2011 at 21:28
I try to vary the point of view. It’s challenging and sometimes hits closer to home when I change all of the “hims,” “his” and “he” to me, mine and I.
michael j contos,
Conshohocken, PA USA
November 24th, 2011 at 22:04
As far as John goes I would gladly do the third person “over-the-shoulder” or even “from-the-hip” narrative 😉
November 25th, 2011 at 00:55
This was informative and a topic I wrestle with quite often when exploring the personality of my characters. How do they want to share their story? Very cool page set-up.
November 25th, 2011 at 14:02
Thank you for sharing, Sue. This is useful information. I’d never heard of the “it” narrative, and will have to explore it. Sounds interesting.
November 25th, 2011 at 19:18
Great article and love reading and agree that it pays to be consistent. Also thank you for following my blog!
November 26th, 2011 at 04:25
Thanks for finding me so I found you. I have a feeling you will help me out. 🙂
November 27th, 2011 at 01:52
I just gave a talk on this massive topic and really enjoyed reading about the one I missed: The “It” narrative.
Thank you! Now this gives me ideas for another angle I could write stories from 🙂