Third person fiction is the most common form of narrative. It’s the easiest perspective to write from, because it allows a lot of flexibility in how you craft the narrative. You can write as an omniscient observer or as a narrator limited to only the perspective of the characters in the scene. You can even stay attached to the perspective of a single character, without having to resort to using the first person. Here are some pros and cons of writing fiction in the third person.

PRO: It’s the perspective most readers are familiar and comfortable with.

Many readers don’t like first-person or second-person perspective in fiction. Most readers prefer third person. It’s the most common perspective in fiction writing, so it’s the one most readers are comfortable reading. Some people really don’t like being forced into the perspective of a single character as in first-person fiction. Others find second-person (where you are put into the shoes of the protagonist) confusing and disorienting. Third-person fiction is the most straightforward and easiest to write. While first-person and second-person perspective can work well when written well, most stories work well when written in third-person.



CON: You might introduce too many viewpoints or characters and confuse the reader

Third person narratives can tend towards having a lot of different characters and viewpoints. This can become confusing to readers if too many characters become introduced. Of course, the simple solution to that is to focus on only a few characters in the course of a story. It’s also possible that if you end up introducing too many different subplots within a story that those subplots can become their own stories later.

PRO: Third person allows the most narrative freedom

While putting the reader in the shoes of characters can be great, if you are an author who likes to build a world outside of the characters, third person perspective is the best way to do that. It can be done in first-person and even second-person, but it doesn’t work nearly as well. Third person gives you the option to build out your creative universe. Just be careful that you don’t go overboard and bog down the manuscript with unnecessary details.

CON: You can tell the reader too much

Because of the narrative freedom third-person provides, it is possible to actually give the reader too much information. This is typically the case when an omniscient observer is being used. Good editing can usually solve this problem, though. In any case, never tell the reader more than he or she needs to know while enjoying the story. Unnecessary information bogs down a narrative. This is why there are many writers who use a more limited third-person perspective that only involves the thoughts and perspectives of characters within a scene, or even follow only a single character throughout the story.

Really, the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to third-person perspective in writing fiction. Sure. Some stories could benefit following a single character or putting the reader directly into a situation. But, especially when writing the rough draft of a short story or novel, starting with third-person perspective is a good idea to build out the world and figure out your characters and plot. You can always switch perspectives in future rewrites if you wish. Unless you are deadset on writing first-person or second-person fiction, third-person perspective is the way to go.


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