Can writing in the third-person limited omniscient POV include internal monologue and character thoughts?

2 Answers 2


Depends on what your "limit" is.

If you are limiting yourself to one character, then yes: the Harry Potter series is told in third person limited omniscient, and we get Harry's thoughts, but no one else's (other than two or three specific chapters in the entire series). But if something doesn't happen to Harry, or if he doesn't see it or hear about it, then the reader can't know it.

If by "limited" you mean that you are telling the story as though you are describing a movie, so the reader can see actions going on at any place or time and focused on any character, but can only observe the action through the five senses, then no: you aren't giving anyone's POV.

Pick one and stick with it.

  • 1
    Good answer, but not all movies exclude character thoughts (which can be done as a voice-over). Your example in the second paragraph is usually referred to as "third-person objective POV".
    – Panda
    Apr 4, 2011 at 13:40
  • @Panda: Is that the correct term? Thank you. It's been a while since I learned the terms in school. :) I use the movie example as an easy way to explain to writers whom I'm editing what a specific character (and thereby the reader) can and cannot know: "Imagine you're watching a movie. Tony is jealous of Rico because Rico is flirting with Lola. But the only way we can know that is Tony's expression, words, and behavior. Don't say 'Tony is jealous;' describe him BEING jealous." To me, any movie which is giving a voiceover of a character's thoughts is being told in first person. Apr 4, 2011 at 15:56

Constant switching between third-person and character thoughts is definitely considered bad style (advice taken from here: http://www.amazon.com/Write-Novel-Them-Misstep-Misstep/dp/0061357952, funny and useful book btw)

However, if you are telling someone's story throughout the novel - then is acceptable if you would also write down the protagonist's thoughts.

If you write several character thoughts constantly the reader might start feeling like he's going mental :)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.