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TheZot

Third person non-omniscient?

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I've started work on a new story, and for a variety of reasons (mosly people who know what they're doing telling me it's not usually the right thing to do :) ) it's in the third person, rather than the first. No big deal, I can handle that.

But...

One of the two protagonists spends most of the story blindfolded and undergoing a physical transformation at the same time. While the second protagonist knows what's going on, he doesn't say, and I want to leave the reader in the dark as well, at least until the end. I could do first person for the blindfolded protagonist, but that'd leave me stuck with having to either shift POV (ick!), or leaving out some information and some of the feelings of the other protagonist (again ick), and it'll get in the way later anyway, as I'd prefer to write the sequels, such as they are, in third person, and I don't want to be shifting from first to third.

So the question is, am I doomed from the start? My inclination is to leave the focus on my blinded protagonist most of the time, and shift over when necessary and just not bring up the changes, but I'm not sure that can work. (I've written chunks of the story and it seems to, but seeing as it's a work in progress, and mine on top of it, I'm not the best person to judge)

Dunno if this is enough information for reasonable opinions, so I'm OK with unreasonable ones as well. :)

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My inclination is to leave the focus on my blinded protagonist most of the time, and shift over when necessary and just not bring up the changes, but I'm not sure that can work.

The beauty of writing in third-person omniscient POV is that you only have to change perspective when you want to. Just because you can show the inner thoughts and activities of another person doesn't mean you have to do it.

For example: think of all the mystery stories you've read, at least the ones written in third-person. It would be suicide for the author to tip his or her hand at the beginning and show who the murderer is. The key is to just provide enough occasional glimpses into other people's thoughts when you need to.

I discovered a lot of tricks and problems when I wrote Jagged Angel, which was my first (and so far, only) 3rd person POV novel. One thing I had to experience in order to understand it was when showing other characters' thoughts worked, and when it didn't. For example, another writer/friend of mine pointed out a scene in which I had two characters talking on the phone. He pointed out it was odd to show the thoughts of the other person on the phone, and he was right. In scenes like this, just stick with one person only, preferably the one who's the central focus of the scene. And don't bounce around back and forth; that'll confuse readers every time.

My rule of thumb is, the moment one character leaves the room, then you can switch the focus to show the other character's thoughts -- like have them say, "gee, what's gotten into Joe? Why did he snap at me like that?" That kind of thing.

BTW: This is all covered very well in that Orson Scott Card book I mentioned elsewhere, Characters and Viewpoint. I found this book so illuminating, I read it twice. Check it out for yourself.

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BTW: This is all covered very well in that Orson Scott Card book I mentioned elsewhere' date=' [i']Characters and Viewpoint.[/i] I found this book so illuminating, I read it twice. Check it out for yourself.

can i just say that i officially love you now, purely because you read OSC. He's like, one of my favorite authors of all time and I am SO excited about Ender's Game being turned into a moive.

sorry, that was really random and completely off-topic.

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I have written a lot in 1st person and find it awkward transitioning to 3rd person. It is more of a problem of getting out of a rut than a true problem with the mechanics of writing.

It is a lot like a Pascal programmer writing an application in C. Sure it works but it's harder and it just doesn't look right. :scratch:

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I have written a lot in 1st person and find it awkward transitioning to 3rd person. It is more of a problem of getting out of a rut than a true problem with the mechanics of writing.

Actually, it's easier than you might think. Read the Orson Scott Card book I keep mentioning, and he has actual examples of how 1st can easily be converted to 3rd.

That having been said: I readily agree that there are definite stories for which writing in 1st person is mandatory. One of the best is detective stories and mysteries, where the detective is actually telling the story (or his assistant, as with Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, most of which are related by Dr. Watson). Those would be far less effective if written in 3rd person, since this way, the audience discovers the clues as the hero finds them.

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TheZot, I'd beta read on that story idea if you like. It sounds interesting and I have some idea what it's like for someone with vision problems.

It sounds like third person omniscient is maybe the way for you to go, or else careful transitions from one person's p.o.v. to the other.

Others have given you good advice. I may check out that Orson Scott Card book too.

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