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Limited Third Person Point of View

The name of this style is a bit of a mouthful, but the concept of third person limited point of view is fairly straightforward. Third person means that all the characters are referred to be their names or third person pronouns (he, she, they, etc. ). The style is further defined by being limited to the perspective of a single character, as opposed to an omniscient third person style.

There is a spectrum of styles that fit into a third person limited point of view (POV). Being in the perspective of a single character could mean your narration is right inside the character’s head—very much like a first person POV—or the narration can follow the character like a shadow, seeing what they see without thinking what they think. You may have a distinction between the narrator's voice and the point of view character's voice or you may blend them completely together. All of these styles are under the umbrella of third person limited POV.

Current industry trends favor third person limited POV and show no signs of changing anytime soon.

This is partially because this style is so versatile. A book in third person limited POV can move closer and further from the POV character based on the needs of the scene. For example, during an action scene, you might show the character's motivations for each tiny action they take. Then during a time of grieving, you might pull your readers back from the character a bit and stay more external.

This point of view style is also popular because it works well for a large cast, while still forming close relationships with the major characters. Because third person POV uses names and pronouns, it can be easy for readers to keep track of changing POV characters over the course of the book. And because limited third POV can be so close to the character, readers can get invested in several interrelated plotlines and character arcs. So it works well for having multiple POV characters.

An important rule of third person limited POV is that switching between POV characters needs to be very clear. If you want to change which character is the focus or whose thoughts the readers are privy to, you must do so at a chapter or scene break. Otherwise, it's called head-hopping, which is considered a major no-no in the industry and can be confusing for readers to keep up with.

If the other types of POV aren't calling to you, you may want to try using this POV for your book. It's a good default and a popular choice with many readers.

Happy writing!

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