August 23, 2019, 02:36:37 PM

Author Topic: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions  (Read 11792 times)

Offline Conan

Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2015, 06:52:23 PM »
I'm going to start writing fantasy in Portuguese instead.

Eu muinto mais gosta palavras dos brasilieras, e gosta muinto ella's bumdinhos tambem. Brasil tem sol e prias bonitas. Aqui esta muinto mais mao e frio. Os palavras do Englese no esta bem.

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 Yora

Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2015, 06:55:51 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.  :-\
That was also my first impression.

It's no secret that I favor short format and focused fiction and Erikson is the absolute extreme opposite of that. But a description like that seems like pretty pointless and needlessly drawn out to me. When I read it, what of it really sticks? By the end of the sentence, I will probably have forgotten that his boots are green because the moment I read it, it seems like a completely irrelevant and meaningless detail. My ADD certainly makes it worse for me than for other people, but by the end of the paragraph the only thing I took note of was "big knife". The rest blurs out completely as my brain is constantly and automatically trying to sort out important information from irrelevant.
I very much love evocative descriptions and always find it disappointing when they are absent, but I prefer the descriptions to be what the character takes note of, not so much the author describing a photograph of the situation.

Offline ScarletBea

  • Welcome party and bringer of Cake. 2nd-in-Command of the Writing Contest
  • Powers That Be
  • Big Wee Hag
  • *
  • Posts: 10889
  • Total likes: 6299
  • Gender: Female
  • Geeky Reading Introvert
    • View Profile
    • LibraryThing profile
Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2015, 06:57:46 PM »
I'm going to start writing fantasy in Portuguese instead.

Eu muinto mais gosta palavras dos brasilieras, e gosta muinto ella's bumdinhos tambem. Brasil tem sol e prias bonitas. Aqui esta muinto mais mao e frio. Os palavras do Englese no esta bem.

c

hehehe about 90% is misspelled, but I understood everything ;D
And I much prefer English than Portuguese: I usually say portuguese's my "mother tongue", english's my "heart tongue" :D

I also fall under the group prefering the 'straight to the point' class of descriptions. I capture the environment more by the characters' actions and words than by the writer's descriptions (and one of the reasons I'm not that keen on 19th century books is the sheer amount of description... pages and pages of it, with nothing happening)
« Last Edit: March 30, 2015, 07:00:31 PM by ScarletBea »
At home in the Fantasy Faction forum!

"Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all" - Douglas Adams

Offline Raptori

  • Barbarian who does not use the Oxford comma and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4054
  • Total likes: 2111
  • the prettiest kitty cat in the world
    • View Profile
Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2015, 07:11:42 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.  :-\
That was also my first impression.

It's no secret that I favor short format and focused fiction and Erikson is the absolute extreme opposite of that. But a description like that seems like pretty pointless and needlessly drawn out to me. When I read it, what of it really sticks? By the end of the sentence, I will probably have forgotten that his boots are green because the moment I read it, it seems like a completely irrelevant and meaningless detail. My ADD certainly makes it worse for me than for other people, but by the end of the paragraph the only thing I took note of was "big knife". The rest blurs out completely as my brain is constantly and automatically trying to sort out important information from irrelevant.
I very much love evocative descriptions and always find it disappointing when they are absent, but I prefer the descriptions to be what the character takes note of, not so much the author describing a photograph of the situation.
Yep exactly. And it can become an even bigger problem when there are one or twoof the details that are important to the plot or characters for some reason, because they can get lost in the minutiae for most people. I usually find that a shorter description highlighting two or three key points is much more effective for bring a character into focus.
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 #19 on: March 30, 2015, 07:19:16 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
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?

I think prose readers stumble over florid detail. The broader target audience probably identifies better with a sparse style.
I think varying styles cannot be governed by our peers, only the demand of the market. I eat Melville for breakfast, but I can also see why many people do not gravitate toward it. Our modern world moves pretty fast, sometimes you just have to get to the point and move on with the plot.
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 Rukaio_Alter

  • Writing Contest Regular and Ineffectual Comic Relief
  • Writing Group
  • Ambient Mage
  • ****
  • Posts: 412
  • Total likes: 431
    • View Profile
Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #20 on: March 30, 2015, 07:32:34 PM »
Honestly, I'm not really fussed one way or the other. Unless the hidden bits are massively important to the plot, I'd rather have the character description over and done with in a nice single chunk, rather than bits continually being added on as the person becomes more visible.
5 Times Winner of the Forum Writing Contest who Totally Hasn't Let it All go to his Head.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Also, <Insert GOD EMPEROR OF THE WRITING CONTEST joke here>

Offline Elfy

  • Writing contest regular
  • Powers That Be
  • Big Wee Hag
  • *
  • Posts: 7154
  • Total likes: 739
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Purple Dove House
Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #21 on: March 30, 2015, 11:39:58 PM »
I prefer it to be more limited, because like the OP said, when they start to go into details I find myself wondering exactly how they know this emphatically from just looking at someone, and is that at all relevant to the plot or the character? I could understand it, if it were Sherlock Holmes or someone similar, when his superhuman powers of observation are relevant to both plot and character, but if not it pulls me out of the story. Erikson's fairly notorious for it, though. There's a fairly well known blogger who has often said that part of the way Erikson can knock out a mammoth doorstopper of a book every year is that the books barely have time to go through the full editing process. I read a lot now and wonder where the editor was and if a more ruthless edit couldn't have made the book both tighter and a more enjoyable read. Lejays17 has a friend who is a professional editor and the lack of editing in many books drives her to frustration.
I will expand your TBR pile.

http://purpledovehouse.blogspot.com

Offline RussetDivinity

Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #22 on: March 31, 2015, 01:49:21 AM »
I also prefer a very limited POV unless things are explicitly omniscient or (as with Sherlock Holmes) there's a very good reason for revealing those details. The thing that tends to bother me as I'm reading more than the idea of a book being tightly written (considering I love Les Miserables, which is called "the brick" for a reason, I have no problem with long, rambling books) is that it shakes my suspension of disbelief when the narration reveals something the POV character couldn't have known at that point.

Offline jefGoelz

Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #23 on: March 31, 2015, 05:59:41 AM »
Are you sure he's not writing in 3rd Omniscient, but only chooses to go in one character's head?


Offline Nyki Blatchley

Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #24 on: March 31, 2015, 12:47:54 PM »
Are you sure he's not writing in 3rd Omniscient, but only chooses to go in one character's head?
I'd consider that quite a strange choice. The main advantages of omni are the range of information you can give and the objective way you can look at the whole situation. Omni for the sake of giving a few details outside the MC's perception frankly wouldn't be worth it, in my opinion.

In general, I'm willing to give a bit of room to limited 3rd POVs noticing or remembering a little more than might be realistic, but only to the extent of them being very observant. Things they couldn't notice have no place, except in omni.

Offline jefGoelz

Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #25 on: April 01, 2015, 06:02:46 AM »
Are you sure he's not writing in 3rd Omniscient, but only chooses to go in one character's head?
I'd consider that quite a strange choice. The main advantages of omni are the range of information you can give and the objective way you can look at the whole situation. Omni for the sake of giving a few details outside the MC's perception frankly wouldn't be worth it, in my opinion.

In general, I'm willing to give a bit of room to limited 3rd POVs noticing or remembering a little more than might be realistic, but only to the extent of them being very observant. Things they couldn't notice have no place, except in omni.

I believe there are many situations where you want to give information beyond what the MC knows. In fact, I think it's pretty classic storytelling: "I'm going to tell you about this guy named Brok. He wasn't the smartest guy, but his heart was in the right place . . ."

Offline Raptori

  • Barbarian who does not use the Oxford comma and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4054
  • Total likes: 2111
  • the prettiest kitty cat in the world
    • View Profile
Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #26 on: April 01, 2015, 06:14:02 AM »
Are you sure he's not writing in 3rd Omniscient, but only chooses to go in one character's head?
I'd consider that quite a strange choice. The main advantages of omni are the range of information you can give and the objective way you can look at the whole situation. Omni for the sake of giving a few details outside the MC's perception frankly wouldn't be worth it, in my opinion.

In general, I'm willing to give a bit of room to limited 3rd POVs noticing or remembering a little more than might be realistic, but only to the extent of them being very observant. Things they couldn't notice have no place, except in omni.

I believe there are many situations where you want to give information beyond what the MC knows. In fact, I think it's pretty classic storytelling: "I'm going to tell you about this guy named Brok. He wasn't the smartest guy, but his heart was in the right place . . ."

I don't think I've ever read a single example like that where it couldn't be improved by showing whatever you're trying to say than telling. As a reader I prefer to work out who the character is on my own, the author telling me something like that. One thing that really annoys me - which telling like that can put you at risk of - is the character's thoughts and actions not correlating to the personality trait that you've specified.

For example, Shallan in Stormlight Archive is always referenced by herself and other characters as a shy retiring person... yet nothing she does or thinks is shy or retiring imo. If it didn't specifically say that she was, I'd have never guessed that's what Sanderson intended her to be.  :-\
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline jefGoelz

Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #27 on: April 01, 2015, 06:34:35 AM »

I don't think I've ever read a single example like that where it couldn't be improved by showing whatever you're trying to say than telling. As a reader I prefer to work out who the character is on my own, the author telling me something like that. One thing that really annoys me - which telling like that can put you at risk of - is the character's thoughts and actions not correlating to the personality trait that you've specified.

You were keying in on the fact that it was telly. That wasn't the point.  The point was that sometimes a writer wants to tell a story about a single person, but introduce information outside that character's perspective.
That choice can be to introduce humor or to introduce suspense.

Offline Raptori

  • Barbarian who does not use the Oxford comma and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4054
  • Total likes: 2111
  • the prettiest kitty cat in the world
    • View Profile
Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #28 on: April 01, 2015, 11:24:45 AM »

I don't think I've ever read a single example like that where it couldn't be improved by showing whatever you're trying to say than telling. As a reader I prefer to work out who the character is on my own, the author telling me something like that. One thing that really annoys me - which telling like that can put you at risk of - is the character's thoughts and actions not correlating to the personality trait that you've specified.

You were keying in on the fact that it was telly. That wasn't the point.  The point was that sometimes a writer wants to tell a story about a single person, but introduce information outside that character's perspective.
That choice can be to introduce humor or to introduce suspense.
Yeah I got the point, it's easier to think of examples where it's telling but I did understand you didn't necessarily mean that.  :)

My point was that I don't ever remember that working for me.  :-\
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline Justan Henner

  • Barbarian who pronounces are, our and hour all the same way
  • Writing Group
  • Auror
  • ***
  • Posts: 1053
  • Total likes: 582
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
« Reply #29 on: April 01, 2015, 02:21:44 PM »
Are you sure he's not writing in 3rd Omniscient, but only chooses to go in one character's head?
I'd consider that quite a strange choice. The main advantages of omni are the range of information you can give and the objective way you can look at the whole situation. Omni for the sake of giving a few details outside the MC's perception frankly wouldn't be worth it, in my opinion.

In general, I'm willing to give a bit of room to limited 3rd POVs noticing or remembering a little more than might be realistic, but only to the extent of them being very observant. Things they couldn't notice have no place, except in omni.

I believe there are many situations where you want to give information beyond what the MC knows. In fact, I think it's pretty classic storytelling: "I'm going to tell you about this guy named Brok. He wasn't the smartest guy, but his heart was in the right place . . ."

I don't think I've ever read a single example like that where it couldn't be improved by showing whatever you're trying to say than telling. As a reader I prefer to work out who the character is on my own, the author telling me something like that. One thing that really annoys me - which telling like that can put you at risk of - is the character's thoughts and actions not correlating to the personality trait that you've specified.


In this scenario though, the narrator is often a character as well, meaning they could be wrong, or the details they're sharing might be lies. Rather than learning about the person being described, you're learning about the narrator through the way he/she describes that person. I think it can work well, off the top of my head I'd say Wuthering Heights does this to good affect, and an example from film, Shawshank Redemption.