What is 3rd (Third) Person Limited Point Of View?

Choosing the right point of view to tell a story is one of the most important choices a writer has to make. How much do you want the reader to feel like they know your characters? How much information do you want to share? 

 The third-person limited point of view, or PoV, is a common way to tell a story in modern writing. It’s also one of the best ways for new writers to get started. 

 Most fiction writers use a limited third-person point of view. Third-person limited can be used to build a story, make things tense, and show traits of characters by having the reader observe them. 

You need to understand this type of story before you can successfully use it.

 This article explains the third-person limited point of view (POV), when and how to use it, and gives you some examples to look at. We’ll talk about what third-person limited means, how it differs from other points of view, and the pros and cons of using it in your story. 

What is third-person limited? 

 A third-person limited point of view is a literary standpoint that gives readers a limited understanding of one or more characters’ thoughts and feelings. 

The third person limited point of view is used in narrative to give a sense of “real-world” and to distinguish the reader from the characters. 

Aside from the third-person limited point of view, there are other viewpoints. So, what exactly is a point of view? Point of view is the real position from which a story is told. 

The narrator tells the story directly, as in “I went to the store today.” This is first person’s point of view. 

Second person point of view happens when the reader is put in the shoes of the narrator, as in the sentence “You went to the store today”. 

When the narrator is an outsider, like in the line “They went to the store today,” they use the third person point of view. 

In third-person limited view, a narrator has access to just a character’s perspective. The narrator experiences one character’s and ideas while viewing other characters as an observer. 

Third-person limited allows a story to grow around its main character without revealing every detail about what is happening to the narrator. This is not the same as the first-person point of view, where the reader sees the events of the novel through the eyes of one or more characters. 

See also: “Over” vs “More Than”: How to Use Both Correctly as a Writer

When to use 3rd person limited? 

Using third-person limited narration, you can tell a story through the eyes of a character you find unique. It emphasizes the impact of an event on a character’s perspective as it happens in the story. 

Since a reader can understand events before the main character or have a different view of the situation, third-person limited creates learning scenarios. 

Using it is helpful both for long and short stories. 

This POV is great for mystery stories because the third person adds suspense by withholding information from the narrator. This is very important when the main character is solving the case in the story. 

Uncertainty is the lifeblood of mystery novels, and the third-person viewpoint heightens tension by concealing a great deal of information. 

 Advantages of Third-Person Limited

 Using the third-person limited has the following advantages. 

The third-person limited view balances action with reflection. 

It is perfect when you need a balance between complex character development and a fast-paced plot. This type of writing shows both the main character’s internal experiences and the external conflicts and events that shape those experiences.

 Good for character-driven plots 

This type of narration makes the reader feel close to the main character in the story. 

It is an excellent technique to explore the nuances of things such as coming of age, the hero’s journey, or decline into moral degradation in an inverted hero’s journey.

Disadvantages of third-person limited point of view 

It can be limiting

The third-person limited narrative has limitations. It can be frustrating because you are confined to one aspect when you want your readers to have more information about the main characters’ actions.

 Head-hopping is allowed 

 Head hopping is one of the most common errors new and inexperienced writers make. When writing in third-person narrative, it is easy to wrongly shift from one character’s ideas to another’s. 

 Remember to interact using a single character and to explain only what your viewpoint character sees, rather than accidentally hopping into a different character. 

Third-person limited needs planning

 If you don’t know what’s going on outside of your main character’s world, you may run into hurdles and narrative holes later in your writing. Plotters and pantsers should use the third-person limited viewpoint over pure-bred pantsers. 

How to write in the third person limited POV

If you want to create a sense of distance between the reader and the characters while keeping a natural sense of mystery, the third-person limited perspective works best. 

 Third-person limited point of view is used in several well-known book series, such as Harry Potter, to bring readers into the world of the lead character and allow us to discover it alongside them. 

 Third-person omniscient vs third-person limited

In fiction writing, the third-person omniscient point of view is very common. 

Although writers use both limited and omniscient to narrate a story in the third person, it’s important to understand the differences between them. 

Third-person limited gives insight into a character’s deepest feelings, opinions, thoughts, and wishes, while using third-person omniscient, the author can show each character’s inner thoughts and feelings, as well as their actions.

See also: How to Write and Publish Your Poetry Book

Tips for mastering 3rd person limited

Here are some tips for writing successfully in a third-person limited perspective:

 Choose an interesting narrator

Use an external narrator who is not involved in the story or a character who is close to the central character as the narrator. Allow him to tell the story.

The perspective you choose may affect the story’s trajectory and character development. 

 Recognize the main character 

Make sure you deeply understand your main character. This makes it easy to ensure that the character’s feelings, beliefs, and points of view are consistent with the storyline. 

 Explore other points of view

As a revision exercise, try rewriting a scene from the view of a character that is not your main character. This can help to highlight the difference between the main character and the supporting characters. 

 Maintain your point of view

Continue writing from the point of view of the narrator you’ve chosen. This gives your narrator a good starting point and allows them to develop as a voice throughout the story. 

 Consider an unreliable narrator

Plot twists and revelations that are done by an unreliable narrator are always interesting and benefit stories. He withholds information intentionally and occasionally provides inaccurate information that is later shown to be false. 

This can heighten the story’s tension and pave the way for plot twists. 

Examples of 3rd third-person limited

Here’s an example from Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets:

“Harry had never been inside Filch’s office before; it was a place most students avoided. The room was dingy and windowless, lit by a single oil lamp dangling from the low ceiling. A faint smell of fried fish lingered about the place. Wooden filing cabinets stood around the walls; from their labels, Harry could see that they contained details of every pupil Filch had ever punished. Fred and George Weasley had an entire drawer to themselves. A highly polished collection of chains and manacles hung on the wall behind Filch’s desk. It was common knowledge that he was always begging Dumbledore to let him suspend students by their ankles from the ceiling.”

The Lost Letters of William Woolf, by Helen Cullen

“William risked a long look in the mirror. His curls looked tangled and his beard needed trimming. Something about his eyes made him nervous. They seemed, well, less brown. Like faded chocolate. It was probably just the fluorescent light bulbs. Eyes don’t fade, do they? Was he vanishing? A man diluted? He shrugged his navy blue pullover into position and braved the sorting office.”

Read: Is It Heros or Heroes? How to Choose the Right Word

Books written in 3rd person limited point of view

  • The Orphan of Cemetery Hill by Hester Fox
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern
  • The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling


Third-person limited is basically used in the narrative to give a sense of the “real-world” and to distinguish the reader from the characters.

It is pretty easy to try and will add more suspense and mystery to your storyline.


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