Hi SErs! Harmony here 🙂 Today, I’d like to talk about how to write Point of View (POV) in the Third Person Distant perspective–otherwise known as Third Person Omniscient.
Third Person Point of View is unique because it has degrees of distance, unlike First and Second Person POVs. The Third Person lens can be dialled up close so it focusses on one individual at a time (Limited), or the lens can be left wide-angle to encompass everything and everyone (Distant or Omniscient).
What is Third Person Distant POV?
This perspective uses the pronouns He, She, and They. This sort of narrative keeps the reader at the furthest distance from the protagonist and action than any of the other styles. Third Person POV is the most commonly used perspective in fiction writing. Below is an example of Third Person Distant (Omniscient) …
‘By the time Jen gets home, her husband will be dead. It’s hard to not smile at the thought. She has the best alibi an abused and beaten wife could ask for, sitting here having dinner and drinks with three of her oldest friends. Even though the police will want her badly for her husband’s murder, it won’t matter because Jen has all these people, and her credit-card bill, putting her right here from 7 until 11 pm. By the time she gets home, at around 11:30 pm or so, it will all be over. Or so she thinks.’
In Third Person Distant, a narrator tells the reader about multiple characters and events at the same time. The Third-Person Distant narrator is less invisible than in Limited because of their all-knowing viewpoint, which puts them further outside the character’s heads. In this omniscient point of view, the narrator can see into multiple minds and see into the future as well.
The Pros of Third Person Distant POV:
- In Omniscient mode, the narrator knows all, sees all, and tells all.
- This lens offers the writer the most freedom of all the viewpoints.
- You can write from as many character’s heads as you wish at any time, and you can see into the future and know things that a more limited viewpoint couldn’t.
The Cons of Third Person Distant POV:
- In Omniscient mode, you cannot have an unreliable narrator because all is known and seen.
- You run the risk of chronic head hopping, which annoys many readers.
- This lens keeps the reader at the furthest distance than any of the other viewpoints.
- There is no opportunity to maintain a level of uncertainty about your secondary characters. Their pasts, secrets, emotions, and agendas are all known.
- The unlimited perspective of Third Person Distant can dilute your reader’s connection to the characters and events.
Why would you write in Third Person Distant POV?
This perspective gives the writer the luxury of telling the story from multiple viewpoints and offers the ability to write different accounts of events, as well as seeing into the future and knowing things the characters do not.
Top Tip: Be careful to avoid chronic head hopping. While you may write in this style, you need to make sure you do it well. Two authors who have used head hopping to good effect are Stephen King and Winston Graham.
In Summary:Third Person Distant POV is told from the perspective of someone (or something) that is not part of events as they unfold. Such an observer is usually obvious to the reader throughout the story because they know things each individual cannot know and flit from head to head. Through this lens, you can show multiple characters. This viewpoint is one that many readers detest due to the tendency for chronic head hopping and confusion.
That’s it from me today. I hope you’ve found this post useful. I’ll see you again on Friday 29th October, when we’ll take a look at Common Pitfalls with choices of POV 🙂
Part 1, Overview, can be found HERE.
Part 2, First Person, can be found HERE.
Part 3, Second Person, can be found HERE.
Part 4, Third Person Limited, can be found HERE.
©2021 Harmony Kent