How to write in third person

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How to write in third person
How to write in third person

Writing in third person is easy with a little practice. Its use in academic, that is, educational or scientific texts means abandoning the pronouns "I" or "you", as a rule, in order to achieve a more objective and formal style. In fiction, a third person can take the form of multiple points of view - the point of view of an all-knowing author, a limited third-person narrative (one or more focal characters), or an objective third-person narrative. Choose for yourself which of them you will lead your story with.


Method 1 of 5: Academic third-person writing

Write a Speech Introducing Yourself Step 9
Write a Speech Introducing Yourself Step 9

Step 1. Use a third party for any academic writing

When describing research results and scientific evidence, write in a third party. This will make your text more objective. For academic or professional purposes, this objectivity is important so that what you write appears to be impartial and therefore more credible.

The third party allows you to focus on facts and evidence rather than personal opinions

Start a Letter Step 1
Start a Letter Step 1

Step 2. Use correct pronouns

In the third person, people are said to be "from the outside." Use nouns, proper nouns or third person pronouns.

  • The third-person pronouns include: he, she, it, they and their forms in all cases - him, her, them, him, her, them, them, and so on.
  • People's names are also suitable for third-person narration.
  • Example: “Orlov thinks differently. According to his research, earlier statements on this topic are incorrect.”
Stop Cyber Bullying Step 7
Stop Cyber Bullying Step 7

Step 3. Avoid first person pronouns

The first person assumes the personal point of view of the author, which means that such a presentation looks subjective and based on opinion, and not on facts. In an academic essay, the first person should be avoided (unless the assignment provides otherwise - say, state your opinion or the results of your work).

  • The first-person pronouns include: I, we, their forms in all cases - me, me, us, us, possessive pronouns - mine (mine, mine), our (ours, ours).
  • The problem with the first person is that it gives scientific speech a personal and subjective character. In other words, it will be difficult to convince the reader that the views and ideas are presented impartially and are not affected by the personal feelings and views of the author. When people use the first person in academic writing, they often write “I think,” “I think,” or “in my opinion”.
  • Wrong: "Although Orlov asserts this, I consider his arguments to be erroneous."
  • That's right: "Although Orlov claims it, others disagree with him."
Feel Good About Yourself Step 12
Feel Good About Yourself Step 12

Step 4. Avoid second person pronouns

Through them, you speak directly to the reader, as if you know him personally, and your writing style becomes too familiar. The second person should never be used in academic writing.

  • Second-person pronouns: you, you, their forms in all cases - you, you, you, you, you, you, possessive pronouns - yours (yours, yours), yours (yours, yours).
  • The main problem of the second person is that he often has an accusatory intonation. Hence the risk of placing unnecessary responsibility on the shoulders of the very person who is reading your work at the moment.
  • Incorrect: "If you still disagree these days, you must not know the facts."
  • Correct: "Anyone who still disagrees these days must not know the facts."
Reduce Your Student Loan Payments Step 4
Reduce Your Student Loan Payments Step 4

Step 5. Speak about the subject in general terms

Sometimes the author needs to refer to the subject without naming him specifically. In other words, he needs to mention a person in general, and not some already known person. In this case, there is usually a temptation to write "you". However, in this case, it would be appropriate to use a generalized noun, or a pronoun - indefinite, determinative or negative.

  • General nouns often used in scientific writing in the third person include: author, reader, student, teacher, person, man, woman, child, people, researchers, scientists, experts, representatives.
  • Example: "Despite many objections, researchers continue to defend their position."
  • Pronouns that can be used for the same purpose include: some, some, some (indefinite); everything, everyone, any (attributive); nobody (negative).
  • Incorrect: "You can agree without knowing the facts."
  • That's right: "Someone might agree without knowing the facts."
Spot Fake News Sites Step 8
Spot Fake News Sites Step 8

Step 6. Avoid the redundant "he or she" construct

Sometimes modern authors write "he or she" instead of "he", although the subject is originally mentioned in the masculine gender.

  • This use of pronouns is dictated by political correctness and is the norm, for example, in English, but in Russian it usually only makes the phrase redundant. After the noun "scientist", "doctor", "child", "man", you can and should write "he".
  • Incorrect: “The witness wanted to give anonymous testimony. He or she was afraid of being hurt if his or her name became known. "
  • Correct: “The witness wanted to give anonymous testimony. He was afraid to suffer if his name became known. "

Method 2 of 5: The Omniscient Author's Perspective

Write a Grant Proposal Step 10
Write a Grant Proposal Step 10

Step 1. Move focus from one character to another

When you write a fictional text from the perspective of an omniscient writer, the narrative jumps from one character to the next, rather than following the thoughts, actions, and words of one character. The author knows everything about each of them and about the world in which they live. He decides for himself which thoughts, feelings or actions to reveal to the reader, and which to hide from him.

  • Let's say there are four main characters in a work: William, Bob, Erica, and Samantha. At different points in the story, the writer should depict the actions and thoughts of each of them, and he can do this within one chapter or paragraph.
  • Example: “William thought Erica was lying, but he wanted to believe she had a good reason. Samantha, too, was sure that Erica was lying, and besides, she was tormented by jealousy, since Tony dared to think well of another girl. "
  • Authors of omniscient narratives should avoid leaps and bounds - don't change a character's perspective within a single chapter. This does not violate the canons of the genre, but is a sign of narrative looseness.
Quote a Book Step 1
Quote a Book Step 1

Step 2. Disclose any information you want

From the point of view of an omniscient author, the story is not limited to the experiences and inner world of a single character. Along with thoughts and feelings, the writer can reveal to the reader the past or future of the heroes directly in the course of the story. In addition, he can express his own opinion, evaluate events from the standpoint of morality, describe cities, nature or animals separately from scenes with the participation of characters.

  • In a sense, the author writing from this point of view is something like a "god" in his work. The writer can observe the actions of any character at any moment, and, unlike the human observer, he not only sees external manifestations, but is also able to look into the inner world.
  • Know when to hide information from the reader. Although the author can tell about whatever he wishes, the piece can benefit from a bit of understatement, when some things are revealed gradually. For example, if one of the characters is shrouded in an aura of mystery, it would be wise to keep the reader out of his feelings until his true motives are revealed.
Write a Book Report Step 6
Write a Book Report Step 6

Step 3. Avoid using first and second person pronouns

The first-person pronouns - "I", "we" and their forms - can only appear in dialogues. The same applies to the second person - "you" and "you".

  • Do not use first and second person in the narrative and descriptive part of the text.
  • That's right: “Bob said to Erica, 'I think this is pretty scary. What do you think?""
  • Incorrect: “I thought it was pretty scary, and Erica and Bob agreed. And what do you think?"

Method 3 of 5: Limited Third Person Narrative (One Character)

Feel Good About Yourself Step 7
Feel Good About Yourself Step 7

Step 1. Choose a character from whose point of view you will lead the story

With limited third-person narration, the author has full access to the actions, thoughts, feelings, and views of a single character. He can write directly from the perspective of the thoughts and reactions of this character, or step aside for a more objective story.

  • The thoughts and feelings of the rest of the characters remain unknown to the narrator throughout the text. Having chosen a limited narrative, he can no longer freely switch between different characters.
  • When the narration is in the first person, the narrator acts as the protagonist, while in the third person, everything is exactly the opposite - here the author moves away from what he writes. In this case, the narrator can reveal some details that he would not have disclosed if the story was in the first person.
Feel Good About Yourself Step 10
Feel Good About Yourself Step 10

Step 2. Describe the actions and thoughts of the character from the outside

Although the writer focuses on one character, he must consider it separately from himself: the personalities of the narrator and the hero do not merge! Even if the author relentlessly follows his thoughts, feelings and inner monologues, the story needs to be narrated from the third person.

  • In other words, the first person pronouns ("I", "me", "mine", "we", "our" and so on) can only be used in dialogues. The narrator sees the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist, but the hero does not turn into the narrator.
  • That's right: "Tiffany felt terrible after having an argument with her boyfriend."
  • That's right: "Tiffany thought, 'I feel terrible after our fight with him."
  • Incorrect: "I felt terrible after the fight with my boyfriend."
Communicate Effectively Step 21
Communicate Effectively Step 21

Step 3. Show the actions and words of other characters, not their thoughts and feelings

The author knows only the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist, from whose position the story is being told. However, he can describe other characters as the hero sees them. The narrator can do whatever his character can; he just cannot know what is going on in the head of other actors.

  • A writer can make guesses or guesses about the thoughts of other characters, but only from the point of view of the protagonist.
  • That's right: "Tiffany felt terrible, but seeing the expression on Karl's face, she knew that he was no better - or even worse."
  • Incorrect: “Tiffany felt terrible. However, she did not know that Karl was even worse. "
Communicate Effectively Step 24
Communicate Effectively Step 24

Step 4. Do not disclose information that the hero does not possess

Although the narrator can digress and describe the scene or other characters, he should not talk about anything that the hero does not see or know. Do not jump from one character to another within the same scene. The actions of other characters can only become known if they take place in the presence of the hero (or he learns about them from someone else).

  • Correct: "From the window Tiffany saw Karl walk up to the house and ring the doorbell."
  • Incorrect: "As soon as Tiffany left the room, Karl breathed a sigh of relief."

Method 4 of 5: Limited Third Person Narrative (Multiple Focal Characters)

Handle Cyber Bullying Step 9
Handle Cyber Bullying Step 9

Step 1. Switch from one character to another

Limited narration from the perspective of several characters, called focal, means that the author is telling the story from the perspective of several characters in turn. Use the vision and thoughts of each of them to reveal important information and help the story unfold.

  • Limit the number of focal characters. You should not write from the perspective of multiple characters, so as not to confuse the reader and overload the work. Each focal character's unique vision should play a role in the storytelling. Ask yourself how each contributes to the story.
  • For example, in a romantic story with two main characters - Kevin and Felicia - the author can give the reader an opportunity to understand what is going on in the soul of both of them, describing events alternately from two points of view.
  • One character can be given more attention than another, but each focal character must get his share at one point or another in the story.
Attract a Woman Step 2
Attract a Woman Step 2

Step 2. Concentrate on the thoughts and vision of one character at a time

Although the work as a whole uses the technique of multiple vision, at each moment the writer should look at what is happening through the eyes of only one hero.

  • Several points of view should not collide in one episode. When the description ends from the perspective of one character, another may enter, however, their perspectives should not be mixed within the same scene or chapter.
  • Incorrect: “Kevin was in love with Felicia from the very first time they met. Felicia, on the other hand, did not fully trust Kevin. "
Be a Better Girlfriend Step 18
Be a Better Girlfriend Step 18

Step 3. Try to make smooth transitions

Although the writer can switch from one character to another and back, you should not do this arbitrarily, otherwise the story will become confusing.

  • In a novel, a good time to switch from character to character is the beginning of a new chapter or a scene within a chapter.
  • At the beginning of a scene or chapter, preferably in the first sentence, the writer should indicate from whose point of view he will lead the story, otherwise the reader will have to guess.
  • That's right: "Felicia really didn't want to admit it, but the roses that Kevin left on the doorstep were a pleasant surprise."
  • Incorrect: "The roses left on the doorstep turned out to be a pleasant surprise."
Apply for an Entrepreneurial Grant Step 6
Apply for an Entrepreneurial Grant Step 6

Step 4. Distinguish who knows what

The reader receives information that is known to different characters, but each character has access to different information. Simply put, some heroes may not know what the other does.

For example, if Kevin talked about Felicia's feelings for him with her best friend, Felicia herself has no way of knowing what they were talking about, unless she was present during the conversation, or Kevin or a friend told her about him

Method 5 of 5: Objective third-person storytelling

Write About Your Hobbies and Interests Step 9
Write About Your Hobbies and Interests Step 9

Step 1. Describe the actions of different characters

Leading an objective third-person narrative, the author can describe the words and actions of any character in the story at any time and in any place.

  • Here, the author does not need to focus on a single protagonist. He can switch between different characters during the story as often as he needs.
  • However, the first person ("I") and the second person ("you") should still be avoided. Their place is only in dialogues.
Convince Yourself That You're Happy Being Alone Step 12
Convince Yourself That You're Happy Being Alone Step 12

Step 2. Don't try to get into the character's thoughts

In contrast to the point of view of the omniscient author, where the narrator's thoughts are available to everyone, with an objective narration he cannot look into anyone's head.

  • Imagine that you are an invisible witness watching the actions and dialogues of the characters. You are not omniscient, so you don't know their feelings and motives. You can only describe their actions from the outside.
  • Correct: "After the lesson, Graham left the class in a hurry and rushed to his room."
  • Incorrect: Graham ran out of the classroom and rushed to his room. The lecture infuriated him so much that he felt ready to pounce on the first comer. "
Feel Good About Yourself Step 13
Feel Good About Yourself Step 13

Step 3. Show, don't tell

Although in objective third-person storytelling, the writer cannot tell about the thoughts and inner world of the characters, he can nevertheless make observations that suggest what the hero was thinking or experiencing. Describe what is happening. For example, do not tell the reader that the character was angry, but describe his gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice so that the reader can see the anger.

  • That's right: "When there was no one left around, Isabella burst into tears."
  • Incorrect: "Isabella was too proud to cry in the presence of others, but she felt that her heart was broken, and therefore burst into tears as soon as she was left alone."
Start a Letter Step 6
Start a Letter Step 6

Step 4. Do not insert your own conclusions into the story

In objective third-person storytelling, the author acts as a reporter, not a commentator.

  • Let the reader draw his own conclusions. Describe the actions of the characters, but do not analyze them or explain what they mean or how they should be judged.
  • That's right: "Before sitting down, Yolanda glanced over her shoulder three times."
  • Incorrect: “It might sound strange, but Yolanda looked over her shoulder three times before sitting down. Such an obsessive habit was indicative of paranoid thinking. "

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