Re:Fiction - The Fiction Writers' Magazine

Third-Person Limited Point of View Definition

In literature, a point of view is considered third person if the narrator is not a character in the story and does not refer to himself or address the reader directly. The narrator always refers to the characters in the story by name or as “he” or “she” or “them.”

A limited point of view happens when the narrator describes the events as only one character perceives them. That character is called the point-of-view character, and the reader is limited to seeing the world through their eyes, their thoughts, and their feelings.

The point-of-view character may change along the story, but the reader should be alerted of the change by a chapter or scene break, and the new point-of-view character needs to be quickly establishing.

For example, in A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, chapters alternate between point-of-view characters. Here’s the opening paragraph from the first novel, A Game of Thrones:

The morning had dawned clear and cold, with a crispness that hinted at the end of summer. They set forth at daybreak to see a man beheaded, twenty in all, and Bran rode among them, nervous with excitement. This was the first time he had been deemed old enough to go with his lord father and his brothers to see the king's justice done. It was the ninth year of summer, and the seventh of Bran's life.

Bran is the point-of-view character of this chapter, and we see the world through his eyes. The author can’t tell us who is being beheaded, because Bran doesn’t know yet. That’s the meaning of a limited point of view. The words in bold show how this is a third-person point of view, and together, we get a third person limited point of view.

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