WriterDojo S3 Ep19: Third Person Narrative

This week, hosts/authors Steve Diamond and Larry Correia follow up on the First-Person Narrative episode with a discussion of Third-Person Narrative. What is the best time/way to use it and when you should NOT use it. What are the benefits and the challenges? 

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This week’s episode is brought to you by Servants of War by Steve Diamond and Larry Correia

The war between Almacia and the Empire of Kolakolvia is in its hundredth year. Casualties heap even higher on both sides as the conflict leaves no corner of the world untouched.

Illarion Glaskov’s quiet life on the fringes of the empire is thrown into chaos when tragedy strikes his village. When he is conscripted into the Tsarist military, he is sent to serve in The Wall—an elite regiment that pilots suits of armor made from the husks of dead golems.

But the great war is not the only—or even the worst—danger facing Illarion, as he is caught in a millennia-old conflict between two goddesses. In order to triumph, he must survive the ravages of trench warfare, horrific monsters from another world, and the treacherous internal politics of the country he serves.

Servants of War by Steve Diamond and Larry Correia is available on Amazon at: https://amzn.to/3OaWznG (affiliate link)

WriterDojo S3 Ep20: Supporter Spectacular (Round VII)
WriterDojo S3 Ep18: What's In A Name? (The Importance of Character Names)

8 thoughts on “WriterDojo S3 Ep19: Third Person Narrative”

  1. Did a short story that was unintentionally in 3rd party omniscient. Margaret took a look at it and advised me to pick a head and stick in it.

    Problem was, the most interesting head switches during the scene. The emotional discussion was more interesting from the perspective of the heavy, while the ambush had a lot more interesting perspectives coming from the VIP. But I’d been thinking of the story as from the heavy’s perspective, so I kept jumping into the VIP’s head for a paragraph or two then back and it was really disorienting.

    The solution ended up being to insert a fake scene change where it obviously switched from the heavy’s perspective to the VIP’s perspective, and just stayed there until the VIP got hit upside the head. And that mostly worked.

    1. It can be done. I’m pretty sure the Discworld novels are in omniscient. But a lot of his humor is in the narrator’s voice, not really in the characters telling each other jokes. I’ve noticed that it works when the omniscient narrator has a distinct voice for themselves, like in Lord of the Rings, C. S. Lewis, or Pratchett.

      1. Reminds me of various old cartoons that did an episode where the villain kidnaps the narrator like Rocky and Bullwinkle‍, Powerpuff Girls, Dave the Barbarian, Sheep in The Big City…

  2. Larry, at approximately 10 minutes, you’re thinking of “Dunbar’s Number”.

    Tried to put a link, but it got flagged as spam.

  3. I find third person omniscient the most natural and easy thing to write *shrug* I dislike limited in general, though I’ll use it if it fits the story I want to tell (I normally end up using first person though, because it’s normally short stories in that case).

    But then I grew up reading omniscient stories (LotR, Discworld, others), so it’s what I’m comfy with. Also, I have to wonder if this is an American thing, because British readers don’t seem to have problems with it.

  4. Can’t wait for more books in Servants of War / Age of Ravens series! …Plus the inevitable tabletop mini game!!!! 😉

  5. This is driving me nuts. I’ve been working on a story with, what I think, are two lead characters. The parts that are written are all in 3rd person.

    Except one of the characters, I can only seem to get their voice in 1st person memoir mode. And if I do that, I pretty much have to shelve the other character’s internal monologue.

    But I may have to, simply because the character with the main story thread is so disconnected at the start that I just can’t seem to get the story started in 3rd person mode.

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