Bakers Dozen: Creative Writing Workbook (Chapter 5, page 2 of 3)

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Chapter 5

B. Third person point of view - someone who is not involved in the story tells the story. (the he, she, they viewpoint)

1. Objective - like a movie. The reader hears dialogue and sees the action of the story (what the characters do) Plus, there are descriptions of the setting. However, the author does not tell you how the characters think or feel. This is called the "camera eye" point of view.

2. Omniscient - Author does say what the characters are thinking and feeling.

He/she can do this for all of his characters or any characters he wants, or more often in short stories he does it for just one character.

The scene with George written in third person objective point of view might sound like this.

George was dressed in his old jeans and dirty T-shirt. He wore some second hand tennis shoes that were ripped along the side.

He was looking at the CD's when the clerk approached him.

"Can I help you?" the clerk asked.

"No," George said.

"Sir," a customer said to the clerk.

When the clerk turned to speak to her, George grabbed a CD and stuffed it into his coat.

NOTE: Many times an author uses the third person objective point of view when he/she doesn't want you to know what the character is really like inside -- at least not for a while.

When we read the above passage, we don't know if George is really a bad kid or if he just is misguided. The author can reveal this to us in his own good time.

The following is the George story told by an omniscient point of view where the author tells what every character is thinking and feeling.

George felt depressed as he looked at the CD's. He had neither a CD player nor any CD's. He couldn't stand the world because they always looked at him like he was a criminal.

"Could I help you?" the clerk asked. He didn't trust the trashy-looking young man in front of him. Thieves made him mad, and he believed this kid was definitely a thief.

NOTE: Authors of short stories don't often use the omniscient point of view for all characters. In a short story, this can be very confusing. Novelists do use the totally omniscient point of view. That way they can show you what's going on all over the place and in the minds of all their characters. Even when novelists use this totally omniscient point of view, they usually have some way of marking when they go to another character.

It's usually started in a new chapter, for instance.

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