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The limits of close-to-third-person narration

Close-to-third is useful, but has its limits. (Limits, generally, are fine.)

It is common, even trending (just as first-person-present is).

For example, we can achieve through setting descriptions character moods and motivations.

Imagine drinking a glass of water after a workout.

Imagine abusing the abundance of a glass of water, on Dune. Wasting it.

Imagine avoiding even the swallowing of one’s spit, during a fast. Imagine doing so while watching others quench their own thirst all around you, downing glasses of water like waterfalls into seemingly bottomless throats, stomachs.

The above examples express varying sentiments around water, from scarcity to thirst to cultural positions and rituals.

The limitation:

Close to third hinders the presence of a narrator, a narrator who’s presence is difficult to remove even with strict adherence to close-to-third point-of-view style.

I’ve experimented with coming out of close-to-third to allow the narrator to say things.

When I do, I try to have a reason. Often, it feels right. Maybe it feels right for the flow of the story.

For example, I may give the narrator a chance to inflict (or reinsert) layers of mystery into the narrative.

The question of who the narrator is can be a mystery unto itself.

The extreme of this is the unreliable narrator (as an aside, we are all unreliable narrators despite our efforts toward truth). But I’m more fascinated with the narrator’s point of view, their intentions or motivations for sharing the story…why, after all, has this narrator decided to share this story in her universe? More acutely, what is the narrator’s point of view with respect to the main character (our close-to-third point-of-view character)?

Just a few vibrations within me. All for now.

Everything is simply a happening, and all we are doing is watching it, attending to it.

Posted on 9/5/2017

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