I have done a little research on the different points of view, and want to delve further into the ways in which the execution of a story varies between first person and third person omniscient.

The first way(that I know of) in which the writer has to alter their story is through the types and amount of information they give to the reader. In the first person, the information is only known by the character/narrator of the story. Whilst in third person omniscient the reader experiences information far beyond the knowledge of the main characters.

How else does the writer have to change his writing between the two POV's other than being conscientious of the information they make present to the reader? Would a writer have to change the genre, for example, to suit POV. Or would a writer change Timespan or speed of events? What factors would change between the two?

Any insights would be greatly appreciated.

1 Answer 1


There are a wide variety of narrative devices, among them the following:

table of narrative devices

All of them can be combined with each other almost at will. You can have an unreliable omniscient narrator, or stream of consciousness third person narration (where the stream of consciousness belongs to a narrator who isn't the protagonist).

No narrative device is specifically tied to first versus third person narration.

To use your example:

It is not true that a first person narrator differs from a third person narrator in the type and amount of information they give to the reader. A first person narrator can narrate events that took place in the past. Long after the events in the story, the narrator has now learned all the relevant facts, for example by talking to the other persons who were part of the story, and is, at the time he looks back on his life and narrates the story, an omniscient narrator who can give the reader information that he did not have while he was living the events. A part from such a narrative might read: At that time I didn't yet know that .... But there are omniscient first-person narratives where the narrator-protagonist dies at the end of the book and the omniscience is not explained.

On the other hand, a third person omnisicient narrator might withhold information from the reader (e.g. to increase suspense, something that is commonly done) or lie to the reader, so while the narrator might be omniscient, the narration isn't.

Similarly, neither genre nor timespan nor speed of events are tied to first versus third person perspective.

  • +1 I would add only this: the writer is under no obligation to choose just one of these combinations and to stick to it throughout the entire work. Point of view is no more than the point from which a particular scene or moment is viewed. Using just one is neither required or necessarily desirable. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds -- Emerson
    – user16226
    Mar 29, 2018 at 11:33
  • Great answers, but just on question. If information, timespan, and speed of event are all factors that don't vary between the two, what does?
    – LuckyPants
    Mar 29, 2018 at 22:48
  • @CharlKruger Nothing except the grammatical person.
    – user29032
    Mar 30, 2018 at 5:58
  • Awh cool thanks for the clarification, I couldn't have got a better answer else.
    – LuckyPants
    Mar 30, 2018 at 9:57

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