#1145… “TBOTW POV: 3rd Person Limited with an Interloping Narrator” [sci, relig, ETC]


   [Consider this quote from The Blood of Three Worlds¹. In time of a worldwide loss of electrical power (due to EMP), legitimate² circumstances have pushed the Christian teens Michael (18) and Triana (16) into a decrepit 3rd floor room (Rm 301) of the Hotel Crandel. Triana lies fully clothed on the bed. At her request, Michael, removes a secret panel in the wall of the storage room next door and enters, lying on a blanket bed on the floor, that she prepared for him. Esther Crandel (70?), proprietor of the Inn, wife of head elder Amos, and new secret “first friend,” of Michael is behind this hasty arrangement–though seemingly unaware of the secret panel. The two teens, newly acquainted, had just had supper and discussed what might come next, as they learned that the perimeter of the Territory had been penetrated and they might be suddenly spirited away and sent on a forever one-way trip, if not killed by intruders. Sally is a 60-year-old housekeeper.]


   For a look at “point of view” (POV)–one that might not be familiar to you, and one not commonly discussed, 3rd person limited-omniscient with an interloping narrator, go through the DOOR.


push on the DOOR.




   In this novel³, there are “3 types” of text: dialog, “thoughts,” (here only springing from one head, Michael’s), and narration with true information, description including going far past what Michael could possibly know. Remember, it’s the narrator’s (author’s) story. He knows what is happening, and what will happen. In limited omniscient POV–the story here–however, we are in Michael’s shoes and we only know what he says, sees, does, and thinks. We can hear what Triana says and see what Triana does (from where Michael stands nearby, but we never read her exact thoughts. By contrast–but not here–an omniscient narrator can enter the head of any character–it’s his story, you know–but rarely more than 3 or 4 characters

   An occasion exception to this that I use is what I call the “interloping narrator.” This occurs when the (“Godlike”) narrator jumps into the story and tells you something–but not too much–about what will happen down the road. (In our example, Michael is clueless about what lies ahead–though the reader might be tipped off about a thing or two.) Why would an author do this? Possibly to “bait the hook” for what comes next–maybe because the plot has slowed down a bit to accommodate excessive narrative detail.

Consider this excerpt from p. 130 of TBOTW:

   Slowly but deliberately [Michael] moved to the bed on the floor and wrapped himself in his blanket, carefully laying his cane by his side. He felt a light kiss on his forehead.


   “That’s from Sally.” In a flash [Triana] was back on her bed pretending that she’d never left it.

   Michael stared back at the hole he’d crawled through. Triana had no idea what she was doing. He groaned. He still felt her soft kiss. Every friend he’d ever had would now call her foolish, childish, and at least naive. And him? Crazy! Except maybe his “first friend.” Didn’t Triana know that every bone in his body wanted to throw away everything and lie next to her?…[But] he was more than his bones. Good timing was beautiful. Bad timing was not. It was sin, even a curse

   Little did he realize that his not moving to her bed, as well as his not returning to [the storeroom], would for the time being, save her from suffering a grizzly death.


  ¹ John Knapp II, The Blood of Three Worlds (Ephemeron, 2019–available at Amazon). Also see sidebar.

  ² Regardless of how it sounds, a larger context makes this clear. Esther Crandel is wise and moral…however, she doesn’t know everything.

  ³ All novels or short stories can be divided by these types. But realize that “interloping narrator” is a fairly new concept to be recognized and explored. You may rightly consider adozenseconds.com to be a primary source for this concept. It can be compared to and contrasted with “cliffhanger.” Interloping narrator is a useful device in read-aloud stories, to enrich key concepts being developed. It is wise, however, not to overdo using this, especially in stories that employ 3rd limited-omniscience POV.

Author: John Knapp