Point me to some great examples of limited third person viewpoint.
August 31, 2008 2:57 AM   Subscribe

Point me to some great examples of limited third person viewpoint.

Hi, I am a beginning writer who wants to learn how to write in limited third person viewpoint. Almost all books I like are however written in first person or some kind of all-knowing godlike viewpoint so I need something to learn from.

Any suggestions are welcome but I am not a big fan of mystery, romance or thriller.
posted by ilike to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Ellroy's American Tabloid
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:34 AM on August 31, 2008

Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" constitutes one of the best examples of third person objective point of view I've ever come across.
posted by sixo33 at 5:28 AM on August 31, 2008

George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series is written entirely from multiple limited third person viewpoints. It's really cool, because a character that seems to be a one-dimensional baddie from someone else's perspective can get his or her own viewpoint, and all of a sudden you're rooting for him/her.

You don't have to be a fantasy fan to get into it at all—I've heard it described as The Sopranos meets The Lord of the Rings—but if you are a fantasy person, it's even more rewarding.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:24 AM on August 31, 2008

The classic example is The Ambassadors, by Henry James.
posted by Houstonian at 8:41 AM on August 31, 2008

Far, far too many to name but a quick glance at my coffee table reveals Kem Nunn's UNASSIGNED TERRITORY and Elmore Leonard's KILLSHOT. Actually, pretty much anything by Elmore Leonard is good. Yes, he writes about cops and crooks mostly, but not what I'd call mysteries or thrillers.

A key thing about writing Third Person is that it really is very similar to First Person when done well. In other words, if the writer doesn't keep strictly to one person's conscious experience of events at a time (nothing beyond what that one person sees, hears, smells, feels, tastes, thinks) then it's generally a mess. There are, of course, brilliant exceptions to this non-RULE but most of them come from before the 20th Century.
posted by philip-random at 10:36 AM on August 31, 2008

People are going to argue about the quality, but the Harry Potter series does this - most things are from Harry's viewpoint.
posted by divabat at 5:45 PM on August 31, 2008

Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series has great 3rd person limited views. That's not just my (amateur) opinion, but the author chosen to complete the series, Brandon Sanderson, wrote, in his read through of the second book in the series, "If there's one thing I could pick to learn from his writing, it would be how to do such a good third limited."
posted by chndrcks at 8:31 PM on August 31, 2008

Seconding Harry Potter - there's only one or two instances in the entire series where it breaks from Harry's perspective.
posted by relucent at 7:35 AM on September 2, 2008

For great exercises on improving your use of different POVs, I highly recommend Le Guin's "Steering the Craft"! I remember a lovely set of examples of the same scene told through half-a-dozen kinds of POV. It's also just a great book on improving your writing. (Note to self: Go find my copy....)
posted by epersonae at 10:21 AM on September 4, 2008

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