A View from the Edge – Third Person POV
Ursula K. LeGuin gives a great description of third person limited point of view in her writing manual, Steering the Craft.
Only what the viewpoint character knows, feels, perceives, thinks, guesses, hopes, remembers, etc., canbe told. The reader can infer what other people feel and think only from what the viewpoint character observes of their behaviour.
Connect with Your Readers
Using different scenes, you can tell the story from the point of view of characters other than your protagonist. Many mystery and suspense writers alternate between the protagonist and the antagonist.
Create Mystery with Uncertainty
You challenge your sleuth to dig deeper to discover motivations and actions these characters keep hidden. Your sleuth’s challenge is to peel back the layers of understanding to solve the puzzle.
As your protagonist encounters challenges, your reader follows along expectant for the next discovery. Good mystery writing involves keeping your character, and your reader, in suspense.
Reader Comprehension Evolves
Writer Challenge for Third Person Limited POV
If you go outside the view of your protagonist, use separate scenes to illuminate another character’s point of view.
Limit the number of characters you use to narrate your mystery. Besides the protagonist and the antagonist, choose wisely if you want to let your reader inside another character. The point of your mystery is to create a puzzle for your reader. Too many viewpoints muddies the waters of your story. You are more likely to confuse the reader rather than enlighten them.
Choose the point of view before you begin your mystery. If you have doubts, try writing the beginning in first person and third person to see which flows better. I tried this a few years ago thinking I wanted to be inside the protagonist’s head in first person. As I thought about how the story would unfold, I realized that third person limited would work better for the mystery.
Alternating between third person and first person is a device some writers use: third person for the protagonist and first person for the antagonist. In the hands of a skilled writer, this technique can work.