Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Think of a 3d Person narrator as a camera. The narrator shoots with three lenses— for close-ups, mid-distance, and long-shots. Each has different merits we very rarely see exploited. Hence this post, a mini-instruction.

We love 3d Person narration because its detachment from the action can be a place "to rest", to perch beside the storyteller and mull over the characters and the vexations (we hope) they face. We love the analytic prospects available to a 3d Person narrator, which, were they to come from a 1st Person narrator may well feel obtrusive, out of character, telling not showing. It all depends on the narrative stance.

A 3d Person narrator can present or withhold information— from all characters' points of view.

A 3d person narrator can pull up close to a character and detail his/her inner thoughts and feelings.

A 3d person narrator can pullback to show the same character as a small player in a larger drama.

The effects of these shifting distances profoundly, subconsciously, play on the reader.

So what about limited 3d Person narration?

Have you ever seen a (very) indy art film where the camera fairly sits on the protagonist's shoulder? It creates, pretty quickly, unease. The viewer cannot see around the protagonist, know what others are up to: the viewer is vulnerable.

In the distant past, for reasons that presently escape us, we respected limited 3d Person— for some kinds of stories. But lately limited 3d Person narrators make us feel imprisoned in a point of view,  claustrophobic. The merit seems to be the relative ease limited 3d Person allows a writer: it is first person without a substantial character voice.

Questions? Comments?

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