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Author Topic: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions  (Read 11787 times)

Offline jefGoelz

Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #45 on: April 03, 2015, 06:53:29 AM »

One thing is that he seems to shift from omniscient to limited. Others have commented on lack of editing in his books.

that probably means you didn't realize it was omniscient until he did something very invasive.  I've gotten 3/4 through a novel before I realized the narrator was omniscient because he was not very invasive and was on the objective end of things.

Limited and omniscient are not mutually exclusive (though some older discussions of it make that distinction).

Limited involves a narrator who limits how many characters will have their thoughts or emotions directly revealed. Usually it is one character per unit of narration (sentence, paragraph, scene, chapter, whole novel - - it varies from work to work, but most are towards the end of that list).  Note: if the POV character could reasonably infer the thoughts or feelings of another character, the narrator is free to mention that.

Omniscient means the narrator reveals information that would not be available to the character at that moment (note, in first person, the narrator can reveal information that he didn't know at that time if it is a faux memoir, written after the events happened).

Invasive means the narrator interjects his own thoughts and feelings.

Subjective means the narrator does relate the thoughts and feelings of characters, while objective means the narrator only shows the characters' thoughts and feelings by their actions and words.

Classical 3rd person omniscient tends to be: subjective, invasive, and not limited.
It does not have to be any of those things.

And most of these distinctions are gradients rather than dichotomies (a narrator can be on the objective end of things, seldom going inside the head of character).



Offline D_Bates

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Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #46 on: April 03, 2015, 01:16:23 PM »
The text in this particular example isn't omniscient writing though. Not that I consider myself an expert, but as I understand it, omni writing is when the narrator is the all seeing eye of god that's looking down on events from above. This isn't the case here, because the narrator doesn't even know the traveller is a man until he makes a judgement call on his height.

If this were omni surely we should be getting specific details of why this man's on the road and his motives in order to build tension for the inevitable meeting with our protagonist. This piece reads like a disjointed third-person where the author is trying to give the suspense of a mysterious figure approaching from the distance, but failed to actually bring him up to our protagonist before he jumped into describing him.

Even still, this is a moot discussion. As the term Point of View states, the only thing that changes between each style is... the Point of View. The events, characters, and world remain constant. Regardless of PoV this scene is still: Protagonist meets traveller on the road --> things happen. The structure of the scene should be: Setting > Approach > Meet > Relevant Character Description > Action/Narrative. Why would an omni style describe sombodies appearance from a mile away when they'll be face to face with our protagonist within two paragraphs later?

Going a little bit deeper, as omni I could write this traveller as:

He was swathed in shades of green, a ring on every finger--above and below the knuckles--as well as every toe within his tall boots. A scar, leftover from when he tumbled while playing tag at the age of five, ran all the way down his left shin beneath his linen leggings. A long knife, it's blade slightly curved--the weapon of choice among Seven Cities Wariner's--hung loosely from the belt securing his tunic. In its swing it occasionally aggravated a rather swollen carbuncle that had, only the other day, formed on the outskirts of his butt cheek. The pain was enough to put an awkward limp into his saunter. Sighing, he scratched wearily at the half-milimetre of stubble on his jawline before turning his jagged nails onto a mole just inside his nipple. The waning afternoon sun was wearing him down.

That's ridiculously descriptive, but at what point did you start to think, "This guy's just making bullshit up for the sake of wordcount." Which is exactly what it is, because 90% of that is likely be irrelevant to the greater story.

As another example, were I writing in first person and my protagonist had a distrustful personality trait I could well take note that this traveller is decked out fully in green:

"Who the hell wears all green? What's he trying to say here--that he's safe? Trustworthy? I'm sure that's really the case when you've got a Seven Cities Wariner's knife at your side. And just look at all those rings he's wearing. Bet he thinks he's some real hot stuff. Screw this dude. I'd better watch my back."

Though I've relayed the exact same information about this traveller as the original piece, every object is there for the express purpose of showing that my protagonist thinks this guy is about to hoodwink him. When in actual fact,  the guy might well be a friendly individual who happens to carry a knife for protection while he travels the wild roads to check on his daughter's farmstead.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2015, 01:18:49 PM by D_Bates »
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Offline JMack

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Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #47 on: April 03, 2015, 01:30:33 PM »
Somewhere in the posts, someone typed "Wariner" for "Warrior".
This is relevant to nothing, except that in high school we had a Wariner English Grammar text that flund it's way into our D&D games as a terrifying relic of Law.
This is somehow fitting for a discussion about story rules.
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Offline Nora

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Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #48 on: April 12, 2015, 04:35:44 AM »
Ok, I think this pretty good overall. Generally I'm enjoying Erikson's writing so far. But:

From at least some distance on the road, Paran is able to see there are rings on every finger above and below the knuckles - not just a bunch of rings. The man doesn't just have leggings, he has linen leggings. His boots aren't green, they'd dyed green. And Paran notices how thin his belt is.


Here is my answer to you my good man. Have you considered that your main character here might simply be gay?
Afterall gay men often have, like most women, a very powerful fashion radar. Dyed shoes? Dear lord can't you spot that like a km away?  8) ;D
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty