Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Close" Third Person Point of View

 I learned in elementary school about how to tell if a book was written in first person, second person or third person. It was a simple matter of pronouns.

“I,” “me," and “my,” or a "we/us" approach  indicate a first person point of view. “You,” “yours,” or where I come from “ya’ll,” is indicative of a story written in the second person while “he,” “she,” “they” tells the reader the story is written in the third person.

Most works of fiction (most, not all) are written from a third person point of view. I have used this technique to weave my story, but now I am learning there are different layers of that third-person narrative.

For example, I can tell the story as if I am on the outside looking in. I can tell the story from several characters point of view. The best way to successfully do this is to use one perspective per scene. 

Another sort of third-person point of view may be described as “limited.” That simply means that I need to construct my story from my main character’s perspective, but still told in a he said, she said format.

The most intriguing of all third-person writing, however is what has been described as “close” or “deep” third-person. My wonderful editor, +Bethany Kaczmarek put me onto this type of writing. It is probably as close to first person experience written in third-person as a writer can get. I like this because I want my readers to experience everything my character experiences. I want them to fully identify with my protagonist.

It is the difference between:

“She was upset. She felt like crying, but tried to fight it. ”
“A knot formed in her throat. She rubbed her eyes and fought the tears pushing to the surface.”

In the first sequence I am “telling” the reader about the experience and in the second I am allowing the reader to experience it with my character.

Okay. I am learning this and hopefully becoming a better writer because of it. I realize I may not be explaining close third person eloquently so I offer to you the two links I found particularly helpful to me.

The first is excellent because it gives three examples that clearly demonstrate the point. I like the second one because it offers an explanation, while also giving a few strong guidelines so we as writers don’t confuse our readers. Take a look and let me know what you think. And thank you, again, Bethany for being the great editor and writing coach God has called you to be.  Sally Apokedak addresses Close Third Person as a guest writer on BellaOnline. Here, Annette Lyon offers some “rules of thumb” concerning point of view.


  1. Another great post Rebecca. I too struggled a lot with POV, doing a lot of head hopping. I'm getting better but still learning. I bought a book, "Emotion Thesaurus" by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. It's an excellent tool to help "show" instead of "tell," thus allowing the reader to feel what the character is feeling.

    A great POV rule is to use the 5 senses whenever possible. My favourite example is about poor Tom crawling through some kind of tunnel on his hands and knees. It describes the smell, to the point that he can taste it, the pain on his hands as he crawls, the noises he hears, etc.

    I found that on Suite 101 website. It's an amazing site with loads of tools and articles.



    1. Thanks Renee-Ann! I appreciate the suggested tools. I love the idea of all of us sharing information we come across that helps us be better writers. And... I love it that you were able to comment on the sight this time! Yeah!

  2. Thanks for the helpful article!


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