path of the storyteller / blog

The truth about head-hopping

narrator point of view Jul 06, 2022

Writing in the third person raises complicated feelings in some writers! There are just so many possibilities.

Some writers cling to the side of the pool and write in third while sticking closely to a single viewpoint character. They toggle in and out of that character’s head, and that’s as far as they’re willing to go. 

This is called writing in close third (also sometimes called limited third). It’s a good and necessary thing to know how to do, but if that’s all there is on the page, it’s sometimes a sign of that a writer lacks either the craft or nerve to venture into the deeper expressive waters of third person POV. 

And then there are the daredevils! Into the deep end of third person they dive. Every character is a viewpoint character! With “omniscient!” as their battle cry, they zip freely from the inside of one character’s head to the inside of another. In between, they offer all kinds...

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Who’s telling this story, anyway?

narrator point of view Jun 01, 2022

The question of where we writers end and our writing begins has been coming up a lot, lately. 

I talked about it a bit last week when discussing why our heroes might tend to be passive as we learn how to cut that fictional umbilical cord between the observing, interpretive stance of the writer and the active, transforming role of the fictional hero we’re writing about.

Another great question recently came in from a member of the Path of the Storyteller community, who wonders whether the narrator of our books is, fundamentally, us?

Today I’d like to talk about this fascinating and somewhat metaphysical topic: Who is the narrator of our books?

Is it us? Is it some nameless entity we invent? Does this entity always lurk there beneath whatever mask we place over it (a first person narrator, perhaps, or an intrusive narrator?), or is it a unique and temporary construction that we erect for each book? 

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