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Author Topic: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions  (Read 13072 times)

Offline JMack

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Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« on: March 30, 2015, 03:18:38 PM »
So I'm enjoying Erikson's Gardens of the Moon a whopping 35 pages in.
But I'm noticing something I've seen in other books as well. A new charcater comes on the scene, and we get details that can in no way be based on the sight and understanding of the POV character.

Paran is on a road, riding to meet the Empress's Adjunct after a horrific day. His horse stops, and zparan sees an unexpected person in the road:

Quote
The figure - a man by his height - was swathed in shades of green: cloaked, hooded, wearing a faded tunic and linen leggings above green-dyed leather boots. A single long-knife, the weapon of choice among Seven Cities Warriner's, was slung through a thin belt. The man's hands, faintly grey in the afternoon light, glittered with rings, rings on every finger, above and below the knuckles. He raised one now, holding up a clay jug.

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.

I think this is a writing question, and I'm interested what you all think. In limited 3rd person POV, should descriptions be limited to what can be noticed realistically in the current light, time and situation? Or do we give the writer a pass and let her fill in the full picture? Does it just depend on how well it's done?

In this scene from Erikson, I'm ready to let it go (after having noticed it). In Debrah Harkness's Discovery of Witches, the writer describes the vampire's shoes when the POV character is sitting across from him at a dining table. Not so much.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2015, 03:21:02 PM by Jmacyk »
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Offline Raptori

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Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2015, 04:02:43 PM »
Personally I prefer it when it's strictly limited. For one thing it makes it easier to get into the mind of the character, for another it tends to cut out unnecessary details - pretty sure the majority of that passage could be replaced with just a couple of details that stand out, and the end result would be a lot stronger.  :-\
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline Conan

Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2015, 04:11:46 PM »
I think this is where a high-level developmental editor really pays off. It literally becomes next to impossible for authors to see obvious mistakes.

I also think that either the U.K. should start spelling grey as gray, or Americans should go back to spelling it with an e.

c
Tied up and twisted; gnarled and knotted with wrinkles; haggardly firm and unyielding; his eyes glowing like coals, that still glow in the ashes of ruin; untottering Ahab stood forth in the clearness of the morn; lifting his splintered helmet of a brow to the fair girl's forehead of heaven.

Offline Henry Dale

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Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2015, 04:22:15 PM »
I think this is where a high-level developmental editor really pays off. It literally becomes next to impossible for authors to see obvious mistakes.

I also think that either the U.K. should start spelling grey as gray, or Americans should go back to spelling it with an e.

c

As long as an author doesn't place Brazil on the west coast. >.>

Since I read English in the accompanying accent I say we go back to sexy British.

Offline Conan

Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2015, 04:35:09 PM »
My wife is a Paulista living in the mid-west. I think she prefers gray.

It's hard to tell though with all her little inho's and zinho's creeping into the works.

Cafezinho, amorzinho, gataonzinho,.....

c
Tied up and twisted; gnarled and knotted with wrinkles; haggardly firm and unyielding; his eyes glowing like coals, that still glow in the ashes of ruin; untottering Ahab stood forth in the clearness of the morn; lifting his splintered helmet of a brow to the fair girl's forehead of heaven.

Offline Raptori

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Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2015, 04:40:05 PM »
Grey. Always grey. Colour instead of color, honour instead of honor, and so on and so on until the ends of the earth.  8)
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline Conan

Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2015, 05:05:18 PM »
Grey. Always grey. Colour instead of color, honour instead of honor, and so on and so on until the ends of the earth.  8)

I dothst sympathize, yet--pray--mark me, I dost afear thine days of olden speak, are numberedth.

Gray is the new Black.
Tied up and twisted; gnarled and knotted with wrinkles; haggardly firm and unyielding; his eyes glowing like coals, that still glow in the ashes of ruin; untottering Ahab stood forth in the clearness of the morn; lifting his splintered helmet of a brow to the fair girl's forehead of heaven.

Offline Raptori

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Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2015, 05:09:09 PM »
Grey. Always grey. Colour instead of color, honour instead of honor, and so on and so on until the ends of the earth.  8)

I dothst sympathize, yet--pray--mark me, I dost afear thine days of olden speak, are numberedth.

Gray is the new Black.
Wot u sayin m8... we got 2 typ lyk ppl rli typ? An tlk lyk dey rli tlk?  :P
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline Conan

Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2015, 05:42:41 PM »
Grey. Always grey. Colour instead of color, honour instead of honor, and so on and so on until the ends of the earth.  8)

I dothst sympathize, yet--pray--mark me, I dost afear thine days of olden speak, are numberedth.

Gray is the new Black.

Wot u sayin m8... we got 2 typ lyk ppl rli typ? An tlk lyk dey rli tlk?  :P

I'm saying that my editor doesn't let me get away with old habits. English will continue to evolve whether we like it or not.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Mid West of America is the current seat of the English language empire. It is up to us that live here to drag the rest of the world into the 21st century.

Gandalf the Grey will soon become Gandalf the Gray.

I don't like change either, but--I learned to like the look of a bikini wax, so--I can learn to like the letter 'a' too.

I am a poet/wordsmith, and therefore refuse to speak text.

c
Tied up and twisted; gnarled and knotted with wrinkles; haggardly firm and unyielding; his eyes glowing like coals, that still glow in the ashes of ruin; untottering Ahab stood forth in the clearness of the morn; lifting his splintered helmet of a brow to the fair girl's forehead of heaven.

Offline Raptori

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Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2015, 05:57:13 PM »
Grey. Always grey. Colour instead of color, honour instead of honor, and so on and so on until the ends of the earth.  8)

I dothst sympathize, yet--pray--mark me, I dost afear thine days of olden speak, are numberedth.

Gray is the new Black.

Wot u sayin m8... we got 2 typ lyk ppl rli typ? An tlk lyk dey rli tlk?  :P

I'm saying that my editor doesn't let me get away with old habits. English will continue to evolve whether we like it or not.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Mid West of America is the current seat of the English language empire. It is up to us that live here to drag the rest of the world into the 21st century.

Gandalf the Grey will soon become Gandalf the Gray.

I don't like change either, but--I learned to like the look of a bikini wax, so--I can learn to like the letter 'a' too.

I am a poet/wordsmith, and therefore refuse to speak text.

c



America isn't the center of the world. There are different subsets of the English language, and none are more or less valid than others. Personally I prefer English spelling and grammar, since I come from England.
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline Doctor_Chill

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Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2015, 06:06:45 PM »
Grey. Always grey. Colour instead of color, honour instead of honor, and so on and so on until the ends of the earth.  8)

I dothst sympathize, yet--pray--mark me, I dost afear thine days of olden speak, are numberedth.

Gray is the new Black.

Wot u sayin m8... we got 2 typ lyk ppl rli typ? An tlk lyk dey rli tlk?  :P

I'm saying that my editor doesn't let me get away with old habits. English will continue to evolve whether we like it or not.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Mid West of America is the current seat of the English language empire. It is up to us that live here to drag the rest of the world into the 21st century.

Gandalf the Grey will soon become Gandalf the Gray.

I don't like change either, but--I learned to like the look of a bikini wax, so--I can learn to like the letter 'a' too.

I am a poet/wordsmith, and therefore refuse to speak text.

c



America isn't the center of the world. There are different subsets of the English language, and none are more or less valid than others. Personally I prefer English spelling and grammar, since I come from England.

America is best Korea. Subsets of the English language matter no more. Write less = work best.  :P
“It’s a dangerous thing, pretense. A man ought to know who he is, even if he isn’t proud to be it.” - Tomorrow the Killing, Daniel Polansky

Offline Conan

Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2015, 06:13:06 PM »
Grey. Always grey. Colour instead of color, honour instead of honor, and so on and so on until the ends of the earth.  8)

I dothst sympathize, yet--pray--mark me, I dost afear thine days of olden speak, are numberedth.

Gray is the new Black.

Wot u sayin m8... we got 2 typ lyk ppl rli typ? An tlk lyk dey rli tlk?  :P

I'm saying that my editor doesn't let me get away with old habits. English will continue to evolve whether we like it or not.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Mid West of America is the current seat of the English language empire. It is up to us that live here to drag the rest of the world into the 21st century.

Gandalf the Grey will soon become Gandalf the Gray.

I don't like change either, but--I learned to like the look of a bikini wax, so--I can learn to like the letter 'a' too.

I am a poet/wordsmith, and therefore refuse to speak text.

c



America isn't the center of the world. There are different subsets of the English language, and none are more or less valid than others. Personally I prefer English spelling and grammar, since I come from England.

I was just teasing and did not mean offence. I do not think we are the center of the world. But there is an undeniable evolution of our bastard language. Romance languages are easier...no spelling are B's required.
Tied up and twisted; gnarled and knotted with wrinkles; haggardly firm and unyielding; his eyes glowing like coals, that still glow in the ashes of ruin; untottering Ahab stood forth in the clearness of the morn; lifting his splintered helmet of a brow to the fair girl's forehead of heaven.

Offline xiagan

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Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2015, 06:37:54 PM »
Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Mid West of America is the current seat of the English language empire. It is up to us that live here to drag the rest of the world into the 21st century.
Sorry to burst your bubble.
But American English is more conservative and outdated than British.

From The Origins and Development of the English Language by John Algeo and Carmen Butcher (p.200):


"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Offline Raptori

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Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2015, 06:50:18 PM »
Grey. Always grey. Colour instead of color, honour instead of honor, and so on and so on until the ends of the earth.  8)

I dothst sympathize, yet--pray--mark me, I dost afear thine days of olden speak, are numberedth.

Gray is the new Black.

Wot u sayin m8... we got 2 typ lyk ppl rli typ? An tlk lyk dey rli tlk?  :P

I'm saying that my editor doesn't let me get away with old habits. English will continue to evolve whether we like it or not.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Mid West of America is the current seat of the English language empire. It is up to us that live here to drag the rest of the world into the 21st century.

Gandalf the Grey will soon become Gandalf the Gray.

I don't like change either, but--I learned to like the look of a bikini wax, so--I can learn to like the letter 'a' too.

I am a poet/wordsmith, and therefore refuse to speak text.

c



America isn't the center of the world. There are different subsets of the English language, and none are more or less valid than others. Personally I prefer English spelling and grammar, since I come from England.

I was just teasing and did not mean offence. I do not think we are the center of the world. But there is an undeniable evolution of our bastard language. Romance languages are easier...no spelling are B's required.

Lol ok, couldn't quite tell - and I've had experience with people (Americans in particular) getting overly passionate about that  ;D

Yeah there's definitely ongoing evolution, the interesting thing is that it's evolving in multiple directions at once, all in different places around the globe. Most of the different strains aren't isolated from each other so they're not diverging completely, but there are a huge number of different dialects. I imagine it wouldn't take long for it to splinter into dozens of languages if we were unable to communicate so quickly across long distances  :)
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline JMack

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Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2015, 06:52:05 PM »
Meanwhile, back to the OP...
  ;)
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
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