Conveying your Characters – Third Person Tips

So you have a fantastic character with all the flaws, traits and layers of an actual human being BUT (particularly when you’re writing third person) how do you get across who they really are?

When I started writing I knew I had a tendancy to write third person but, in comparison to first person, it isn’t so easy to convey their inner emotions and who they are as a person. Some people choose to add the thoughts and feelings of their characters in italics which is one way of approaching this but this isn’t a technique I personally use.

If, like me, you’re a bit of a googler then you may have tried searching this problem to get advice but what you get is a whole long list of ways to develop your character like character profiling etc. but this isn’t what I’m talking about (so if this is your problem – read no more!)

So what did I do? 

I read a whole lot of third person books and noted the techniques they used in terms of sentence structure to convey who the characters are.

And here’s my list for your persual. I hope you find it helpful!

(I use ‘he’ in my examples but this is obviously interchangeable with she/I/they etc. etc. Also all actions, thoughts and feelings distinguished by ‘/’ can be interchanged with whatever takes your fancy!)

  • He usually / His usual / He was used to being…
  • He supposed/wondered…
  • He hadn’t felt/behaved/acted that way for a while…not since (insert past event)
  • He felt embarressed/distressed/upset/hurt but wouldn’t let (so and so) know that
  • He had once been (insert description) but now he was (insert opposing description)
  • It was nice/unusual to meet someone like himself in that (describe how they are similar/disimilar)
  • It wasn’t how he personally would have acted but…
  • He wouldn’t be embarrassed/hurt/goaded so easily not since (insert past event that changed him) 
  • He frowned at himself/ his sister / friend / his clothes (shows how proud he is or isn’t)
  • He ignored the surge of emotions that arose because of…
  • Had he been able to/ willing to/ had the guts to/ bold enough to/ not under the watchful gaze of/ quicker off the mark/ he would have (insert action)
  • He (insert action) for effect
  • He tried to look/ tried not to look…
  • He was always/often/never/occasionally the one to (insert behaviour)
  • He generally avoided (insert situation/behaviour)

You get the idea!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Conveying your Characters – Third Person Tips

  1. Oh yes, all of the above plus thoughts-in-italics. I love thoughts-in-italics; so many writers’ advice pieces will tell you to use italics as sparingly as you can and never if possible, for thoughts and for emphasis, but I’ve given up on listening to writers’ advice pieces so now I do whatever I want. I am above the law! Fwahahahaha!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good tips! I write predominantly in first person because I like to go deep into a character’s head. Third person can have depth too, but it feels more like standing outside the person, rather than being in them.

    Like

    • Thanks Shannon 🙂 yeah I think first person is great for getting up close and personal with a character and a third person is definately more of a challenge but if it’s done right i think they’re equally effective just such different styles!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Inspired by the freedom of a limitless imagination (as we all should be) | What Inspires Your Writing?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: