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Notes, tutorials, exercises, thoughts, workshops and resources about writing or storytelling art

Types of Narrators: Third-Person Subjective Narrator

This type of narrator may be confused with the omniscient narrator, but the difference between them is the third-person subjective narrator adopts the point of view of one of the characters of the story.


Thus, his or her vision is limited. He’ll have insight into what a character is thinking or feeling, but he will only have a superficial knowledge of the other characters. Nevertheless, the third-person subjective narrator will always be wiser than a first-person narrator as he can describe his chosen hero from both inside and outside perspectives.

This type of narrator’s perception of reality can be one of two types: simple (he can only take one character’s point of view) or global (he can change his point of view from chapter to chapter or even from scene to scene). A clear lesson on how to use a third-person, subjective, global narrator is in George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones which is the first novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. This type of narrator appears in every chapter of the book, and each time he appears, he adopts a different character’s point of view. He can analyze the same event from multiple sides this way.

In order to know whether a third-person subjective narrator is the best choice for the story you want to tell, here’s a list of the main features of this type of narrator:

1. He/she has a limited perspective.

As stated above, this narrator’s point of view is restricted to one character at a time. Therefore, he doesn’t know what the rest of the characters are thinking about or what their motivations are.

2. He/she explains one part and suggests the rest.

Unlike the omniscient narrator who knows everything about the story, the third-person subjective narrator is only sure about what is related to his chosen character. What he can tell about the remaining characters is subjective and based on conjectures.

3. He/she allows multiple perspectives.

The third-person, subjective, global narrator can offer different perspectives of a story, and in this way, be almost as reliable as an omniscient narrator.

4. He/she identifies with a character.

Although the narrator is not a character in the story, his opinions and judgments are those of the character he’s representing.

5. He/she creates a connection between character and reader.

As a consequence of assuming a specific character’s point of view, he can create a bond of empathy between character and reader.

Related Posts:

The Omniscient Narrator
Point of View in Fiction Writing
How to Give Depth to your Characters

5 comentarios

  1. 1. pete dice:

    i’ve written and published two novels; and until now, have had considerable difficulty explaining the narrative forms of each with any real accuracy. thanks to your clarification, it’s now a cake-walk!

    Escrito el 17 August 2014 a las 18:49
  2. 2. Ronald dice:

    Most writers explaining POV waste their time explaining first-person and second-person, which anyone who writes should know. Where the complexities – and the confusion – comes in is with the different kinds of 3rd-person POV. Some “teachers” seem to suggest that third-person means omniscient, when omniscience is only one variety of it. I am looking at using third-person subjective POV with deep penetration and a more detached third-person POV for 3 other characters. Can someone suggest an example of a novel written in this way? Published examples can drive home a point far better than most expositions. Unfortunately, many examples given by some authors turn out to be incorrect, but you may have to read 100 pages to discover this.

    Escrito el 14 October 2014 a las 22:36
    • 3. Literautas dice:

      Hi, Ronald

      I can’t think of any novel with a narrator like that right now. It’s kind of difficult to find because, when you decide to use a third-person subjective POV, you usually keep it attached to a character. Or several characters in case of global third-person subjective narrator, but it changes from chapter to chapter or from scene to scene snf it has always the same penetration in the character’s knowlege.

      In case you’re interested, there’s a short story by Cortazar has a very peculiar narrator. It’s a third-person subjective POV, but it changes several times throughout history without notice and with little transitions. The story is titled ‘Miss Cora’ and you can read it at the link below:

      I’m not sure if that short story is what you’re looking for, but I guess it can be interesting anyway.

      Thanks for your comment and have a nice day,


      Escrito el 17 October 2014 a las 10:59
  3. 4. Tasha Njerry dice:

    How can tell the difference between the third person narrator and the author?

    Escrito el 4 December 2015 a las 09:06
    • 5. Literautas dice:

      Hi Tasha!

      Ideally, we never use our voice as authors to narrate the story (readers usually don’t like this). The third-person narrator tells the story, but he/she is neutral and doesn’t give his/her opinion, so this narrator should never be confused with the author’s voice.

      Happy writing!


      Escrito el 14 December 2015 a las 12:41

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