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On the topic of third person narrators

(12-01-16, 12:25 AM)ScorchedEarth22 Wrote: This is a good post, and I agree with most everything said here, but I would argue that it is very possible for the 3rd person narrator to inject its own voice into a story. For one, a third person narrator is simply that: The third person. An observer who isn't part of the story, yes, but they aren't always just a  nonexistent voice telling you a tale. This type of narration stems from the days of old, before even books, when stories were told by word of mouth. Those narrators told stories they had heard but not experienced, thus becoming the "3rd person." Therefore, it is very possible for the third person to have a basis with which to express personal opinion. It is a bias that affects the story, but it isn't a fopaw necessarily on the writer's part. 

Hell, you could even look at the 3rd person perspective as the author telling you the story. I can say "The girl was very pretty." I have my own memories and ideologies that give me a perspective to base this off of. I do know what pretty is, to me anyways. This basis can change from person to person, which is why fan art of books without any previously drawn characters can garner such a broad range of designs per character.

But like I said, this is a good post. You sir, have earned my respect.

That is what I would call storytelling. (Often the style used for children's  fairy-tale books.) Not exactly the same as a third person perspective on things.
An informative post, but I have to disagree. Ever read 'A Series of Unfortunate Events'? Lemony Snicket breaks quite a few of your rules and is a very entertaining narrator.

Narratology is an entire field of study. I took a class in it in exclusivly that in college.

I believe what you are describing are differences in focalization, zero, internal, and external. To me, it seems that your primary complaints stem from unexpected changes between focalization, rather then narration conventions.

I.e. if you have a narrator that is commenting on the story a lot (see TV tropes Unreliable Narrator for examples) then they should be commenting a lot. We shouldn't forget they exist and the entire story should be told in that manner. On the otherhand if the narrator is omnicient and directs the story from the background, giving uninfluenced or personalized narration then it should stay that way.
Thank you for the new terms @Kekkama
Third person narrator is a bit more complex than you made it seem in the guide. Look up free indirect speech, if you don't already know of it. I believe it's a worthwhile addition to the guide. It's fairly common fare by now to have opinions represented as implied thoughts, the important distinction here being that those opinions must belong to a character and not to the narrator. I'm not arguing in favor of the input of an omniscient narrator opinion though.

Still, I'd like to tweak your example a bit.

Quote:Carnation-chan looked up at her stubby fingers.

"Goddamit, I've been reincarnated as a human again," she groaned, "a human infant too...damned gods won't let me take over a body..."

Shit, being an infant really sucked.

Done like this, the opinion obviously belongs to the character and is certainly within the boundaries of a third person narrator.

I think it's important to make it clear that free indirect speech is acceptable, maybe even encouraged. It blurs the line between omniscient and limited narrator and helps define characters. Of course, there is a right way and a wrong way to use and abuse it, but it is important enough to deserve a mention. It's one of the reasons why the third person is so popular nowadays.

Still, I like your guide, it's well written and well thought out. Definitely worth the read.
I agree with this last point. Having the character's thoughts expressed directly in the narration without the mediation of quote marks, thought tags, or anything else lends an immediacy to the narration that makes it more vivid. I use it quite often but I also use explicit thought or feeling signifiers ("X thought", "X felt").

In any case, I don't think you could rule out writing a story where all internal thought is expressed in this way. It would be a potent, very immediate text. But you should take care not to confuse the reader about who is thinking what.

The extreme form of this would be a "stream of consciousness" narration interspersed with a third-person account of what's happening. vg. one paragraph recounting what the character does, one paragraph of direct transcription of the character's thoughts in first person. Or both things interspersed, with the "stream of consciousness" part written in cursive.

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