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What Is Third Person Narrative?


Third-person narrative is one of the most common techniques in storytelling. Although there are several types of third-person narrative, its common feature is that narration features third-person pronouns ("he" and "she"), as opposed to the first-person pronoun ("I").

Identification

Third-person narrative can be identified by looking at the pronouns used in the narrative. Third-person narrative uses "he," "she," "it" and "they," not "I" or "you."

Function

This form of narrative tends to offer the most objective view of a story because neither the narrator nor the reader are participants. Even in third-person narrative where subjective thoughts and feelings are known, they are generally contextualized by the thoughts and feelings of other characters.

Objective and Subjective

Objective third-person narration does not reveal anything internal about a character, reporting only what can be observed. Subjective narration uses the thoughts of a number of characters as a lens to relate and interpret events.

Omniscient and Limited

An omniscient narrator has access to all characters' perspectives at all times, as well as all events and times. A limited or closed narrative voice uses the thoughts of only one character to experience the events in the story.

Considerations

Occasionally, third-person narratives make limited use of other narrative voices, both first- and second-person. Occasional use of third-person draws the narrator into the story, while use of the second-person involves the reader as a participant.

About the Author

Erik Steel is a graduate of the University of Michigan, earning his bachelor's degree in Russian. Steel has worked as writer for more than four years and has contributed content to eHow and Pluck on Demand. His work recently appeared in the literary journal "Arsenic Lobster."

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