This post will be about how the Third Person Restricted Perspective can be used in a scene. As I explained in the basics of perspective, I will be using an example of a character called ‘The Debt Collector’, who I have been creating recently, arriving in a town via a carriage.
I will be referencing the First Person Version I wrote for this scene to make a comparison, so I do recommend you check that out as well, but for your convenience I have included the perspective of the Debt Collector that I wrote at the bottom of this post.
The footman opened the door to the carriage and the woman sighed. She wasn’t comfortable in the bulky dress she had been told to wear. She composed herself and took the footman’s hand to descend from the carriage. She stepped straight into the muddy street, her brocade skirts falling straight into the mud.
The footman tensed, waiting for her reaction but she maintained her composure. She knew there was no paved roads in this town here on the edge of the world but she wasn’t about to be seen to be kind to her footman; her reputation depended on it.
When you compare these two paragraphs to the paragraphs I wrote for the First Person you can immediately see the difference in pronouns. Rather than ‘I’, use ‘she’. You will also see that I wrote the scene a lot less personally and that is a reflection on how I approach this perspective.
I find the third person generally is a lot less personal than the First Person, even when in this case it is still restricted to the viewpoint of the Debt Collector. This is not her inner monologue, it is from the perspective of an outsider who has an insight on the character’s reactions (i.e. the writer) but not insight to everything else (that is what the Third Person Unlimited is able to do).
The differences between how I went about writing the First Person and the Third Person Restricted, is reflective on how my personal writing style changes between the two perspectives. The sort of observations that I make as a writer are less intimate; I don’t feel that as a writer I would have known that she was struggling to breathe in the dress, only that she was uncomfortable.
I could have quite easily just changed the pronouns and made third person restricted using the same observations, like so:
The footman opened the door to the carriage and she sighed; she was going to have to try and move in the bulky dress she had been told to wear. She breathed as deeply as she was able, and composed herself. She took the footman’s hand and stepped out of the carriage. The heavy brocade skirts fell straight into the mud.
Either of the third person restricted versions work, but differences in how you write either of these perspectives might become apparent to you over time and something that as a writer you figure out. You might decide that you are more personal than I am in using this perspective.
For comparison the First Person Perspective from the viewpoint of the Debt Collector herself.
(The footman opened the door to the carriage and I sighed; I was going to have to try and move in the bulky dress I had been told to wear. I breathed as deeply as I was able, and composed myself. I took the footman’s hand and stepped out of the carriage. My heavy brocade skirts fell straight into the mud.
I felt the footman tense, I assume because he was frightened about what I was going to say and do because the carriage had stopped in the mud. I couldn’t exactly tell him I didn’t mind; there was mud as far as the eye could see. I had a reputation to maintain, and here at the very edge of the world, I couldn’t be seen to be kind to my footman.)