Can I relive a scene in the third person if I am writing in the first person? The main character has broken up with her man and she is reliving a scene in her mind where they
where spending an afternoon together, does it mess with the flow to write the entire scene in the third person?

  • 1
    Hi Domina, welcome to the group. Can you give us alittle more info please? The more we know about what you're trying to do an why the better we can help.
    – CLockeWork
    Nov 22, 2013 at 14:06

2 Answers 2


You can do that. You'll need to separate the relived scene typographically, perhaps by placing it in italics and possibly by setting it off with line breaks from the rest of the text. If a lengthy scene, perhaps it will be its own chapter with the place/time indicated in bold beneath the chapter's heading.

At the same time, I'd urge against shifting the point of view. Jumping around is confusing to readers. It also creates a number of plotting issues for you that causes the reader to feel cheated...after all, if you break the point of view for one scene by telling it in first person from one character's perspective, why not tell another scene from another character's first person perspective? Often writers break the point of view to resolve plotting issues by revealing information about a character so that her motivations are better understood because the current point of view they're using doesn't satisfactorily reveal them. In such cases, ask yourself if you would not be better to tell the entire story from the point of view you switched to for that one scene.

  • Glad to know I can do it...Its to late to avoid shifting. I have however, limited POV shifting to the MCs and three other characters one being the villain. It seems to work well. Thanks
    – Domina
    Nov 22, 2013 at 22:41
  • As far as I know, writing entire scenes in italics is no longer considered "good style." But, other than that, right on.
    – JasonMc92
    Jan 12, 2014 at 3:59

Yes, it will mess with the flow. Yes, you can do it. If you want an introspection, the protagonist just reliving it alone, you'll be better off shifting the tense, e.g. writing the scene in present tense. OTOH, you can get away with switching the perspective very neatly if you bracket the retrospection within the main story right.

Have the protagonist tell it to someone. Have her write that down as an entry in a diary, or as a letter never meant to be sent. Simply instead of shifting directly into that person's mind, following direct thoughts, have them become the active third-person narrator telling the story in a frame where this shift is obvious and fully justified, a story-within-story. That way you are not disrupting the current perspective, just setting it on the back burner while the new story is being told from the new perspective embedded in the story above.

  • Here is how I did it...As I come out of my reverie I curl up in my lonely bed, and this time I relive my brief time with Owen as an unattached observer. “Are you ready doc?” Owen is standing at the door dressed in his riding clothes. “I am,” Lexi wiggles and spins around to show him, and his eyes narrow at the cream colored shirt and beige, fitted breeches that fit her curves like a second skin. “That you are,” he said as he walked forward and pulled her to him for a passionate kiss. “Our driver is out front let’s go.” The quote is in italics, does this work?
    – Domina
    Dec 24, 2013 at 1:18
  • Putting this in a comment, which doesn't support formatting like paragraph breaks made it an unreadable mess. Try to include it in your question ('edit').
    – SF.
    Dec 24, 2013 at 2:23

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