• Hillary Oliver

How to Achieve Third Person DEEP

How do I write in third person deep, you ask? Well let me tell you how I manage it.

Third person deep is notably the most popular narrative that nearly every author aspires to master. But it’s not that simple, is it?

I’ve struggled with it too. My first novel, The Legend of Lilith was nearly 100,000 words over its limit. That’s right, my novel was the length of TWO.

In my naivety, I wrote it on software that didn’t tell me my word count. I thought that the book would be too short, that I’d need to fluff it up in revision. Dang was I wrong, boys and girls.

Needless to say, my first revision was taking care of the list I’d devised during my drafting phase. These were just small plot alterations. It took me about two weeks to make these. Then I let my manuscript sit for about 3 months, while I let my brain rest. During this time I thought very little about my story. I read a million books and indulged in activities I couldn’t enjoy whilst in drafting.

Once I pulled my manuscript out from its purgatory, it was time for my self-edit to begin. I thought, this won’t take me very long. I was so so wrong.

After nearly two linear passes, I was able to extract almost all of the filter and filler words. Filler words are self explanatory. If the sentence makes just as much sense without the word, CUT IT. Filler words are a large indicator of a novice writer, and you don’t want your readers thinking that you don’t know what you’re doing. If they do, they will likely put your book down.

Filter words on the other hand, pull the reader OUT of the protagonist’s mind. I corrected sentences like “Lilith watched as the sunrise engulfed the horizon” to “the sunrise engulfed the horizon.” Such simple alterations make a huge difference to the way your reader connects with your protagonist. Instead of looking at the scene through a looking glass, your readers are in your protagonist’s head, as if they too are embarking upon a grande adventure. This is VERY important.

I learned another trick during the drafting phase of my sequel. I knew that I really wanted my readers to engage with Lilith and Rhëa. I needed them to understand what they were going through, just how high the stakes were, just by eliciting those same emotions in my audience. NOT an easy feat, but it is one all authors strive to achieve.

When I felt distanced from Lilith and Rhëa, my first tactic was to put myself in their shoes. If I were in the same situation, how would I feel? What would my body be doing? I needed full access to my empathy to draw forth those emotions and translate them into words. Again, NOT an easy feat, but it is attainable.

When I’m struggling to translate what I’m feeling to words, I divert back to first person. With first person, I find it very difficult to use filter words because you’re writing AS the protagonist. Everything you write is as that character experiences it. They are the narrator. So I’d write out the paragraph in first person, and once I was satisfied with it, I would quickly convert it back to third.

Here’s an example:

First person: I trudged through the mud, paying little heed to the slick matter beneath my bare feet. My body nearly writhed in disgust, but I had to push forward. My life, and Miles, depended on it.

Third person: Rhëa trudged through the mud, paying little heed to the slick matter beneath her bare feet. Her body nearly writhed in disgust, but she had to push forward. Her life, and Miles, depended on it.

See how similar they are? Just by changing a few words, I was able to clearly express how Rhëa was feeling without needed to describe it from a birds eye view. Now the reader is insider her head, experiencing the scene with her. Thus, feeling ever ounce of emotion she does.

I hope this helps all of you combat the struggles of achieving third person deep. Good luck in your drafting phase!

Until next time,

Hillary Oliver.

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