I am writing in third person, limited , past with half a dozen POV characters. I make an effort to never slip into omniscient and try to keep my character POVs in their own voices i.e wheel of time. My problem is that I tend—with one character especially—to give a lot of their personal thoughts, reactions etc. My question is how far can you go before it needs to be in the first person.


2 Answers 2


There are no rules, really. Or, to put it this way, there are conventions, but that's precisely where a skillful writer comes in. A skillful writer, in control of her art, is able to see when something works and when something doesn't. Narration perspectives and focalization are no exception.

The best advice I can give you is this: Don't focus too much on what you're supposed to do; focus on the best way to convey the message, then pick whatever method works for it, both locally (i.e. in a specific scene) and globally (in the entire book). What I mean by that? In an otherwise 3rd-person narration, if you really want to accentuate a feeling, you can switch to 1st-person (perhaps with italics), to indicate inner thought. But if you plan to do this extensively, it a) loses its "exclamation point" quality; b) you have to be consistent - in other words, if a characters stars having inner dialogue like that, you can't just stop it at some point without a reason


Intimately deep third-person limited POV is wholly acceptable and can be just as intimate as first person. It seems to work well to start scenes or chapters in a more shallow POV to establish the scene and then progressively get deeper. As a scene gets more intense, the POV should get deeper. When you want to back off the intensity, get shallower.

I admire writers who can do first person well, getting very detailed while still believably sounding like someone telling a story of what they experienced. But first person is more challenging than third person when working with a character with impaired self-awareness, such as a schizophrenic character I'm currently using. I found I needed a more objective description of her experience than was plausible to relate in first person.

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