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I'm writing a book with a blending of first and third person, and it switches whenever I need it to and not across chapters. The third person follows every character until the perspective changes to the first-person narrator, who then starts narrating until it switches again.

For instance, here is an example of both of them together:

I then proceed to hand him some supplies, which he sets on the island, prepping our work to make the delicious breakfast. Meanwhile, I listen to the conversations at the dining room table. Samuel starts first, sitting straight up in his chair. "How'd y'all sleep?"

However, I have a moment where the first-person narrator is asleep, and the third person references the narrator.

He walks across the living room and into his father's [the narrator's] art room. But he realizes his father isn't there.

So, would it make the most sense to reference the narrator in third person like above or to have the narrator say "My art room"?

The first-person narrator is not omnipresent or omniscient, but when he narrates, he normally speaks in present or past tense, as if he's in the future, telling the readers about the past. So, he knows a good amount about what's happening or going to happen.

Here is another example:

Across the world, as far away as they could get, are two others that morning. Their presences were unbeknownst to me at the time, but they are well. Maybe well isn't the right word.

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You are writing in a viewpoint that is similar to first person omniscient in pronouns, tenses, etc. The only difference is that the omniscience is limited. We can imagine that the first person narrator combines his own memories of the events with what he was later told by the other characters into his narrative.

I advise you to come up with a clear understanding of who the narrator is, at what point in time the narration takes place, and how he comes to know what he knows, because that will make it clearer to you what he knows and how you must narrate it. It doesn't really have to have happened that way, but it will help you be consistend in your narration and will answer questions such as the one you ask here. But don't forget that your readers will draw conclusions about your story from the narrative viewpoint and assume something similar to what I assumed.

If the narrator was told later what the other characters experienced, this:

He walks across the living room and into his father's [the narrator's] art room. But he realizes his father isn't there.

should be:

He walks across the living room and into my art room. But he realizes I am not there.

Think about your friend telling you that they tried to call you and you didn't pick up the phone. Later you tell another friend about what your first friend experienced:

Mary tried to call me, but I didn't pick up the phone.

You can make it clear that you don't know what happened because you weren't there and there is some doubt to what Mary told you (because you were home and always pick up the phone):

Mary tried to call me, but apparently I didn't pick up the phone.

You can even add that you were told about it and what you think of it:

Mary said she tried to call me and that I didn't pick up the phone. I don't know. That seems unlikely, because I was sitting beside the phone waiting for her to call.

As you see, how you narrate this scene will depend on the decisions you make about your characters (are they trustworthy?), their relationship (does one try to lie to the other?), and how the narrator comes to know what they narrate (where they told or did they witness it from an omniscient viewpoint, e.g. from the afterlife?). So do clarify these questions for yourself before you write.

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  • Yes and either way, how could '… his father's [the narrator's]… ' come into anything? Nov 20, 2023 at 19:22
  • I didn't think about it like that. That really helps! Thank you so much!
    – Lily N
    Nov 20, 2023 at 22:46

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