[Yes, we still address lit. & writing issues…]


   Here’s an example of using “Interloping 3rd Person-limited-omniscient Point of View,” or I3rdPLOPOV. It’s the POV used throughout Earth Is Not Alone (see right) and esp. in “The Secret of Zareba,” a novella included there.


   This means the narrator sees into and shares with the reader the thinking of only one character, Prince Galen…that is, except for the interloping part in red. Here’s a portion from Ch. 39.


   [On (Earthlike, but medieval-appearing) Planet Emryss teenaged Prince Galen and his “army” of 9, at his father’s and the retreating Emperor’s orders are defending a walled fortress atop Mt. Zareba against an enemy force of about 1000. If they hold off the enemy for half a year, Prince Galen said for one day they would feast.]


Chapter 39


   After almost six months, the long-dreamed-of feast on Resurection Day on Maenus 1 approached. Little did the defenders realize how soon everything would forever change.

   Winter had brought some light snow, much cooler than normal weather, and a couple of weeks of bitter cold. Master Weft expressed amazement that most of King Stulk’s men still showed no signs of heading further north or returning home. And there’d been no serious attacks, other than a few arrows now and then.

   What did they know that held them there?


 [For more use the DOOR.]




   (cont. from above)

   At last winter seemed to come to an end.

   Seemed to.

   Seemed to, because winter weather hadn’t quite finished. And weather played a key role in the series of events that would soon follow.

   King Stulk’s first attack–his first real attack–involved warfare unlike Galen, Millicent, Weft, Maleg, or even Storie had ever discussed.


   [They move to a small chapel in the center of the fortress in which they have a brief service followed by a discussion. Maleg the stonemason’s son offers a short prophecy that came to him in his sleep. No one understands it.]

   “Thank you,” said Millicent [to the young man] in an accepting voice that discouraged further conversation.

   “I believe you,” whispered Storie [to the young man].

   From the great pulpit–that later was to prove important–Galen looked from face to face trying to measure reactions.


   [Then Mira, the former maid to the Emperor’s dead daughter, and one of the ten defenders is suddenly discovered missing from the group in the chapel. No one can understand this either. When Galen notices her absence, we learn of his thoughts:] 

   But Galen realized at this moment that, despite the girl’s strangeness, he could not bear it if anything happened to her. Even if the Emperor’s other daughter, who was still alive, suddened appeared and complicated everything.


   [The service over, they enjoy as best they can their “feast.”]

   …There were generous helpings of potatoes, the only vegetable not scarce. While Mira helped serve, Galen noticed she ate little.

   It was a happy and memorable time.

   The remainder of the day they had to rest. And rest they did, not knowing that it was the last day the ten of them would ever enjoy together.

                     [–end of chapter–]


   What’s structurally directing the story?

   As we’ve discussed before, stories have 3 structural parts: narration (The “unseen” narrator, or “teller,” telling what happens), dialogue (what the narrator tell us the characters say to each other), and thoughts (the teller of the story tells what one or more–two or three or sometimes many–are thinking. So, as you see, there are several OK ways to go about this. ). With “thoughts,” when the teller provides them, we know they true (not lies). Good writers often reveal thoughts of several characters. However, other good writers stick with one character and only reveal that character’s thoughts. Some say that’s the best, and most honest, way to do it because a person never sees into more than one head (his own) in real life¹. One has to observe the behavior and “hear” the others speak–truth or lies–to determine what’s going on inside them. Which of the 2 ways of doing it is the author’s call. Neither is wrong.

   The latter way, illustrated here–with one exception that will be discussed–is called 3rd person-limited omniscient². We get inside one head only. Just one. What goes on in other heads we have to guess at by what we see and hear.

   In the excerpt above, everything except that’s in brackets, italics, or color is from the text. The parts in I put in blue (above) tell us what Galen in thinking about. Just Galen. Words from others are shown, but not their thoughts. We readers are following what’s happening “invisibly walking by” Galen’s side–no one else’s.

   Now we come to the special red part: information that Galen–and no other character–could ever know about. This seems to be a break in the usual pattern. It is. The story, however, does not become 3rd person omniscient.

   We get words, but never thoughts, from other characters, Instead, we get privileged narrative detail. Not fair? It’s unusual, but of course it’s fair! It’s the author’s story and he knows more than the main character, or the other characters do. So, as a interloper, he dips into well and draws out what might be called “narrative prophecy,” and he does so–right or wrong–because he thinks it fits the story.

   And his well? As with other wells, water from somewhere rushes into the empty space so the well is full again, ready to be drawn from again.

   What to call this distinctive framework? We call it Interloping 3rd person-limited omniscient POV. And, we’re willing to bet you heard about it first at  A Dozen Seconds.


   ¹And some say that’s one thing that can make fiction more enjoyable. We “ride along” with one character in a story and figure out every other character by what he or she “says” (which may either be true, false, inappropriate, fuzzy, or very accurate) or does, thinking about and measuring everything from that character’s thought processes–no one’s else’s. By contrast, a story with an omnipotent point of view will tell us–accurately–several or many, but never all, people’s thoughts about what’s going on. Stage plays, by contrast (with “Our Town” and a other few exceptions) never tell us what anyone is really thinking, so we the audience have to figure all that out for ourselves by what the characters say and do. That’s part of the genius and enjoyment of watching theater.

   ² This is similar in many ways, as we’ve discussed, to 1st person point of view (which when chosen to follow is must be limited-omnscient, unless with the rarest of exceptions, that character is clairvoyant). Compare 3rd and 1st person choices:  Ralph thought he smelled bacon as he arose early Saturday morning to I thought I smelled bacon when I…. Now 2nd person? Forget that. It’s technically possible but almost never used.