How to Write Your Characters’ Thoughts: Third-Person Limited POV

Last week, we talked about writing characters’ thoughts when you have a first-person point of view (POV) story. It’s just as important to show what your characters are thinking when you’re writing in third person–but it can definitely be tricky! It’s easy to slip into a constant stream of he thought/she thought. Who wants that?

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Today’s post gives 4 different ways to communicate your main character’s thoughts when writing in third-person limited POV.

Why only your main character’s thoughts, you ask? Because in third-person limited POV, the narrative is written as if someone is peering over your main character’s shoulder to tell the story. Unless your main character is a mind-reader, he or she won’t know what other characters are thinking. In omniscient POV, your all-knowing, all-seeing narrator has access to all your characters’ thoughts–but that’s a kettle of fish for another post.

Four Ways to Show Characters’ Thoughts

1. Communicate thoughts directly.

She sometimes wondered if any of them could actually play an instrument.”–City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare

This method uses “thinking tags” to identify thoughts the way dialog tags identify speech and speaker. These would include thought (eg, “He thought the lecture would never end”), but that’s not the only tag available to you. Others include:

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3 Essentials of Effective Character Descriptions

footprint-71137_1280Imagine this scenario: You’re working on that all-important first chapter. You have all your resource files open on your computer, or perhaps printed out and spread on the table beside you: timelines, plot points, character notes, setting details.

You pen the opening paragraphs, setting the scene while avoiding too much description. You add a dash of dialog, a little action. Your main character is on the scene and you know exactly what she looks like, because you’ve written pages of description. You might’ve even written up a nifty character interview. Heck, you know everything from her favorite nail polish color to the contents of her backpack.

It’s time to paint her picture for the reader…and you have no idea where to start.

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Character Date Ideas #3

This week, we’re taking a look at different ways to spend time with our characters.

Why “spend time” with them, you ask? Because we want to learn more about them…and since most of us don’t have a crystal ball, we’ll have to actually get to know those characters up close and personal-like.

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Photo courtesy of Santiago Nicolau, Flickr Creative Commons

If you want your characters to trust you with their innermost thoughts, feelings, fears, and desires, you need a good relationship with them. Or–if your characters aren’t the trusting types–then you’ll need time to learn to read between the lines of whatever they DO tell you.

We looked at a few “character date” ideas on Monday and Wednesday. We’ll wrap things up today with some more general resources on creativity. If you have any to add to the list, please give me a shout in the comments!

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Character Date Ideas #2

This week, we’re taking a look at different ways to spend time with our characters.

Why “spend time” with them, you ask? Because we want to learn more about them…and since most of us don’t have a crystal ball, we’ll have to actually get to know those characters up close and personal-like.

Beverly_Flickr_Creative_Commons-adj
Photo courtesy of Beverly on Flickr Creative Commons

If you want your characters to trust you with their innermost thoughts, feelings, fears, and desires, you need a good relationship with them. Or–if your characters aren’t the trusting types–then you’ll need time to learn to read between the lines of whatever they DO tell you.

We looked at a few “character date” ideas on Monday. Now it’s time to explore a few more active options. Have fun!

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