73 votes

How to avoid mentioning the name of a character?

Sure, take the example of the Library story arc in Doctor Who, we see River Song tell the Doctor his name by way of convincing him she's trustworthy but we don't hear it. The audience only know what ...
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  • 10k
71 votes

How to avoid mentioning the name of a character?

Have the narrator tell the action in that place, not show it. Then show Old Man's reaction. Example: "Nothing gives you the right to do this." Old Man sat back down in his chair, hoping Taylor ...
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37 votes

Is straight-up writing someone's opinions telling?

You're taking "show, don't tell" too strictly. There's no rules in writing - they're more what you'd call guidelines. If you're in doubt about a passage, write it both ways. Then see which one feels ...
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27 votes
Accepted

Would it be cheating to change the main character's "name" partway through the story?

Interesting question. Changing a character's name is definitely jarring to the reader (at least it has been to me). The best suggestion I've found to deal with that is to create tension about the name....
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18 votes

Is straight-up writing someone's opinions telling?

Agree with Galastel's answer, most writing "rules" are just guides so you understand the general effect on the reader. However, just picking the one that "feels natural" isn't very objective, so I'...
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  • 24.3k
17 votes
Accepted

Should I describe my characters going to the toilet?

Your readers only want to read a scene if it moves the plot forward, adds to a character's experience or inner life, or is just plain entertaining. Realism doesn't mean a character gets up to use the ...
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  • 1,171
16 votes

How to avoid mentioning the name of a character?

I think a good way to do this is to simply said "(person) called his name." or something like that.
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  • 2,550
15 votes

What to call a main character who changes names?

There are many ways you can tackle this question. Some considerations would be how close your narration is to the MC, how the MC thinks of themselves, and how you want the reader to think of her. Let ...
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15 votes
Accepted

Is it okay to say what the character infers about other characters thoughts as fact in third person limited?

You seem to have chosen third person limited scope, and then decided that you're "supposed to" follow the rules of third person limited scope. You should make decisions based on what serves the story, ...
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15 votes
Accepted

Referring to a character in 3rd person when they have amnesia

Use the name others use for her. It's pretty standard that, if a patient can't be identified, a placeholder name gets assigned. Jane Doe (in the US anyway) is a very common one (John Doe for males). ...
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13 votes

How to avoid mentioning the name of a character?

You can say e.g. "upon hearing his name, he turned..."
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13 votes

Is it okay to say what the character infers about other characters thoughts as fact in third person limited?

This will be a matter of opinion. My opinion is no, it is not okay. I write in 3PL myself, exclusively, and everything I write is as if the MC is seeing it. You are doing nothing but saving space, and ...
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  • 92.2k
12 votes

Would it be cheating to change the main character's "name" partway through the story?

In The Acts of the Apostles, leading protagonist Paul is initially introduced by his given name Saul, at which point he is an antagonist to the other heroes of the story. The narrator, Luke, who ...
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10 votes

Is straight-up writing someone's opinions telling?

I would add one word to that (then I'll tell you why): Visa squared his shoulders, knowing Reino respected confidence. An opinion is part of somebody's internal life; and how they see the world. ...
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8 votes
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Prologue and Epilogue in third person and chapters in first person doable?

Sounds fine to me. The prologue and epilogue are literally before and after the story, so it's fine for them to be formatted differently or have a different POV.
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8 votes

Is it okay to say what the character infers about other characters thoughts as fact in third person limited?

Welcome! +1 to both existing answers. The advantage of adding the word 'apparently' is that it further anchors us into Bob's mind without the need to add italicized thought (which can become ...
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  • 23.5k
7 votes

Should I describe my characters going to the toilet?

Like anything else, if it's critical to the plot, or if it would be very weird to leave it out, then put it in. If it's unnecessary or there's enough passage of time offscreen to cover it, leave it ...
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7 votes

First Person vs. Third Person: Advantages and Disadvantages?

Although I have read a few things I liked written from the first person, I can't write that way myself; it is far too limiting and constrained. For one, the POV character has to be in every frikkin' ...
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  • 92.2k
7 votes

How to refer to characters in a non-repetitive way in the third person?

In Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling alternates between "Aunt Petunia" "his aunt" and "she". In Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury has the following: Far off, the old man smiled. They ...
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7 votes
Accepted

What to call a main character who changes names?

It all depends on your narrative voice, and how sympathetic the narrator is to the character. she absolutely intends to become a new person each time, and sees herself as a "Jane" then a "Dolores", ...
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  • 24.3k
7 votes

Is it okay to say what the character infers about other characters thoughts as fact in third person limited?

As a reader, I wouldn't think twice about that brief "break" of POV. I also don't generally analyze "what point of view is this in?" while reading. I think, if it works in the story and flows well, ...
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  • 1,308
7 votes

How to write in third person present tense without making it sound awkward?

The biggest pitfall I find with third person present tense is that it can start to sound like a movie script. Like stage directions. He goes to the fridge and opens it. It's empty. So he closes the ...
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7 votes

How to avoid using "she" repetitively in action?

You can carry the same subject through multiple actions in the same sentence without repeating "she" (or her name) over and over again; the subject in each additional clause should be clear ...
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  • 684
6 votes
Accepted

How do I bring my readers closer to my characters when using the third person?

I like to use a lot of dialogue. It draws the reader in. Narrative: Joel didn't like riding the school bus. He was the last one on in the morning, and the seats were always filled. Because he wasn't ...
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  • 4,138
6 votes

Should I describe my characters going to the toilet?

Look at the books you've read - do they mention it? If there's something unique about the situation - if your characters are extremely modest and are in a situation where they can't have privacy, or ...
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  • 12.8k
6 votes
Accepted

What is the technique of displaying stream of thought in third person?

Good question! This is called free indirect style. Now you know the name, you'll find lots more about it on Google. The description I've linked is probably the easiest one to start with. Hope that ...
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  • 1,162
6 votes

Would it be cheating to change the main character's "name" partway through the story?

As long as the change is obvious that sounds like an interesting take on naming your character. You should think about how the exact change happens - it's probably unnatural if your narrator suddenly ...
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  • 5,586
6 votes

Would it be cheating to change the main character's "name" partway through the story?

Another option is to have a dialog affirmation. Use an antagonist or villain of some sort who would use the old name after the new name was given, only to be corrected by the hero, and then as the ...
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  • 10.8k
6 votes
Accepted

How to quote something somebody was told by someone else? (Third-party, hearsay)

This is called an indirect (or secondhand) quote. Typically, the advice is to replace it with a primary quote if at all possible. But in an oral recollection like this, it might not be possible to ...
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