I am writing a Narrated novel.

Here is my 1st Person Narration followed by 3rd Person Account of Same Incident

Grandmother was an old woman left to fend for herself.

Ranjho's Mother walked in a trance-like state. The villagers kept their distance and whispered amongst themselves.

Like Water for Chocolate is narrated (novel online) and I wish to write this way.

So when Mama Elena came over to ask Paquita if she was being properly entertained, she replied enthusiastically.

"Oh yes, perfectly! You have such wonderful daughters. Such fascinating conversation!"

Mama Elena sent Tita to the kitchen to get something for the guests.

  • If you have a goal, go for it - but personal style/voice is often what draws readers into a story and keeps them there. Why would you want to copy someone else?
    – Tasch
    Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 19:40
  • 1
    @Tasch I'm trying to find clearest way to communicate to readers. Like Water for Chocolate is easy to follow.
    – Marium
    Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 19:52
  • @Marium Right, so you really want to write clearly. That's what the question should be about. You can edit it to highlight that issues you have with this.
    – J.G.
    Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 8:28
  • @J.G. We all want to write clearly and get people to read our books. My question was, how to emulate the beautiful style of "Like Water for Chocolate"
    – Marium
    Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 11:50

2 Answers 2


It sounds like what you are looking for is "Close 3rd Person POV", which is where you narrate as though you were hovering over the main character's shoulder. In Close 3rd Person, you have access to the main character's thoughts and viewpoint, but you don't write in their voice, outside of dialog. You're allowed to use the main character's private names for people, or you can describe them more impersonally, but you should probably pick one or the other and stick to it ("Grandmother" or "Ranjho's Mother"). You could do your paragraphs something like this:

"Grandmother" was an old woman left to fend for herself. She walked in a trance-like state. The villagers kept their distance and whispered amongst themselves.


Judging by your link, what you're going for seems like a first-person, past-tense account of events that transitions into third-person accounts, but never quite closes in on such a deep-point perspective as to show us anyone's thoughts. We're often told of what characters are thinking in the moment, but these descriptions are confided to us in third person, almost as if the narrator is disclosing the details secondhand, but to the best of her recollection (e.g. One after another, she thought back on all the wedding banquets she had prepared for the De Ia Garza family, ever cherishing the illusion that the next wedding would be her own.)

Don't describe Grandmother as "Rhanjo's Mother," tell us who she is to the narrator, or if you want to convey Rhanjo's perspective, tell us who she is to Rhanjo. For instance, "When Rhanjo found his mother, she was in a trance, mumbling to herself while all the neighbors looked on whispered among themselves. He thought of all the times she'd looked after his own children when they were little, tended to them when they were sick. Now he had repaid her by leaving her all alone, in a village full of strangers."

And don't call her "Grandmother;" it's way too formal. If you want to convey that the narrator is an adult, call her Grandma, but the trick here is to convey a personal relationship: Granny, Gram, Grana, Nana, Gram Gram, and Abuela are all much better options than "Grandmother," although "Grandma" feels pretty solid. On the other hand, if you're talking about Rhanjo's experience, tell us who she is to Rhanjo in the way that Rhanjo might tell us if he were here.

Don't tell us about "the villagers," tell us about "the neighbors," unless the people in the village are strangers, in which case, you should talk about this as well. Who left Grandma all by herself? Where was the narrator when this was happening? This style doesn't quite engage in head-hopping, but it often jumps perspective, and when it does the transition should feel smooth and seamless, so that now the context of the relationships between characters changes its focus and the language you use reflects it.

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