At first I was going to tell my story told from my main character's point of view, but now I'm wondering if I should make it coming from the point of view of a third-person narrator.

I wanted the main character to display her thoughts and emotions to the reader, but I also wanted the reader to experience scenes with other characters without the main character knowing. The only way I can think to do this is to have it come from a third-person narrative point of view. What are my options?

  • Edited to make this more asking about your options and less what-should-I-write, which is off-topic here. This should be fine now. But I'm not sure how your character's gender is really relevant here. Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 7:23

6 Answers 6


First of all, don't confuse point of view with person. You can write in the third person and still tell the story from one character's point of view.

Second, third person is the normal mode of storytelling. All this stuff about limited vs. omniscient is largely a distraction. It is an analytical scheme used to classify the POV at various points of a story. Unfortunately what tends to happens with analytical categories it that people tend to turn them into prescriptions, and then they become puritanical about them and start insisting that a work must be in a single category from beginning to end.

This is all bunk, and you would be well served to forget all about it and just write your story in the third person in the way that seem most natural to you.

Sometimes when a story is not working, an analysis of the story may reveal that the way POV is used in that particular story is not working, and those categories might be useful for describing what is going wrong. But in no way does that mean that every story that uses POV in the same way will not work, or that any general rules for what you must do with POV can be derived from the failure of POV in one particular work.

Fill your head with your story and write it down as it comes to you. Until you have real mastery of story craft, don't mess with any fancy literary techniques, or mess with restricted persons or POV.


It's perfectly okay to have multiple viewpoint characters in a single story, as long as readers always know whose viewpoint they're in.

The safest way approach is to use only one viewpoint character within each scene. If you want a new viewpoint character, finish the current scene, and start a new scene with a new viewpoint character.

The benefit of switching scenes is that readers understand that each scene break represents a change of some kind (to a new time, place, or viewpoint character).

Make sure you start each scene by making it clear to the reader which viewpoint they're in.

It is possible to switch viewpoint characters within a scene. But it's very easy to confuse readers. For this to work, you have to be very good at helping the reader follow the viewpoint switches. It's rare for writers to do this well.


Why not go with third person semi-omniscient? That makes jumping from characters much easier and you can still have their thoughts etc. I prefer reading this but it also depends on your audience and your purpose.


It seems to me like you want to assemble your story from the perspective of each player. Rather like if someone were to have access to the diaries or personal notes from each of them? If so, then there isn't any need for an omniscient narrative voice — correct?

If you want to present the story from the confines of multiple, limited perspectives, then it is best to have strong breaks between those perspectives. You will probably want them on separate pages, and you may wish to consider the judicious use of headers which convey or confirm the identity of the proceeding perspective. Something like a prefix or suffix to the chapter titles, if you are naming chapters, and if you can do so in a way which doesn't degenerate into background noise.


Mark Baker has a great answer, but to add.

Chapters, sections and paragraphs can be used to jump between POV, and the narrators. I personally think that these can be used, but there is a risk of a mess. Chapters are fairly easy jumping points, because those are the most concrete. The readers accept time jumps and completely different scenes, when the chapter is changed. They are low risk place to make such jumps. With more careful planning you can go deeper to the levels of text, possibly even to within sentence jumps.

"STOP", but the enemies do not stop; because they already surrounded him, which he was not aware.

Such sentence makes sense, but it is tricky to make an easily understood story written this way.


I do the same thing as you, there's a simple solution. When you want to change viewpoints, just do. ----(character)----
and then everyone knows that it's from that characters perspective

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