Third-Person Limited: This POV is characterized by the use of “he” or “she” and the character’s name, as in, “John hated math. He hated it immensely.” Unlike third-person omniscient, the third limited spends the entirety of the story in only one character’s perspective, sometimes as if looking over that character’s shoulder and sometimes going inside the character’s mind, and the events are filtered through that character’s perception (though less directly than first-person singular). – Jane Friedman
I write in third person restricted (limited) most of the time and tend to like novels that also use this POV. (Jane Friedman–in the link above–lists points of view, how the function, and the pros and cons of each.) I feel like I should e-mail this link to some of my favorite authors because they cheat, knowingly or unknowingly, when they write in third person restricted. I’m not sure how their editors miss it,
Fortunately–for those of us who are purists–these authors don’t include the thoughts of other characters (unless they alternate the POV chapter by chapter–which is okay). Usually it’s something small, done to keep the reader reading.
Let’s say the main character is named “Bob.” This means that if Bob doesn’t see it or hear it or learn about it from another person, readers can’t know about it.
What I see most often is something like this:
Bob closed and locked the front door to his house, fired up the fishing car he used when following bad guys, and drove down third street toward the waterfront. He didn’t see the dark figure standing in the woods across the street.
This is when I want to shout OBJECTION and hear the judge say SUSTAINED, followed by, “The reader will disregard the dark figure across the street.”
If Bob didn’t see the dark figure, s/he can’t be in the book. This is a cheap trick authors use to tip off the reader that the main character is being watched/followed.
I also see this:
Bob watched the Benton house on a dark night with a cold moon. They did normal Benton things, cooked hamburgers on their Weber grill, watched the TV news, and went to bed early. They didn’t know this was the last night of their lives.
Oh, so Bob is a psychic is he? Well, that should have been established earlier in the story. If he’s not a psychic, then this sentence can’t be in the book.
I want to shout OBJECTION, NO FOUNDATION and hear the judge say SUSTAINED, followed by, “The reader will disregard the motion that one or more of the Bentons is about to kick the bucket.”
Sure, we all know why the author did this. Even though we know, we also know that it’s unnecessary. It’s a cheap trick that’s supposed to ramp up the suspense by killing the suspense.
We need better editors.