[Writing Prompt] Up Close and Third Person

This time, let’s come out of our own heads and get inside someone else’s.
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The Prompt

Write a story in the Third Person, Limited perspective


  • Third person limited is a lot like first person except you’re not writing “I”. By that I mean you can only show the thoughts of one person.
  • A good way to remember not to show other characters’ thoughts is to imagine your story as a TV show or movie. All characters apart from the one whose point of view you’re following, must walk across the screen, being observed by him (or her)
  • Try not to use ‘he thought’, or ‘she felt’, or ‘he wondered’. Take a look at this writing advice (allegedly by Chuck Palahniuk) which has some great examples of how to avoid this trap — and why it’s so much more effective when you do


2 thoughts on “[Writing Prompt] Up Close and Third Person”

  1. I have started and re-started this story so many times. I like it. I like the characters. I have no direction. I get stuck and the limited POV keeps hanging me up…I guess I like my characters too much and they keep butting in on the narrator’s vision.

    1. I feel your pain, Janet!

      Have you tried pinning down your protagonist (sometimes I’m not clear on who that is, at first) and what his/her one biggest desire is at this moment in time? I think that’s going to be key to moving forward with your story. Put one obstacle at a time in his/her way.

      For example, I wrote a story recently where a man wants to spend some time alone with his new wife. First the servants get in the way. Then they go for a walk and encounter all kinds of people along the way (each encounter tells us something about the character of the man) and ultimately he gets called back to active service in the military. By this point we know him well enough to know how he’ll react and what effect that will have on the couple.

      That was a pretty long story. You can have one or two obstacles to your character’s desire and still turn out a compelling story.

      So: what does your main character want? Why can’t she have it? Can you shrink the scale of your story to one incident/moment and still tell us everything we need to know to care about the outcome?

      Let me know how it goes!

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