Switching to Third-Person Limited

Switching to Third-Person Limited

I’ve switched my own work in progress to third-person limited and here’s why.

Two weeks ago now, maybe it’s three already, I began reading Annie Dillard’s Pulitzer Prize, (That’s Pullet Surprise if you’re from the South) book, The Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. I previously started the Audibles version. I also have it on my Kindle. I decided I’d do better with it on paper, in my hands.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

My late-Grandma Retha Jackson Claxton was a prolific reader. She mainly read Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour westerns, but just about every night I ever saw her alive, and any night I ever called her post eight p.m. she never let the phone ring once on my end, and she was always reading a book. Grandma Claxton’s rule about reading a novel was simple: If I’m not into it by the first 75 pages, I put it down.

I’m on page 82 or so of Tinker Creek.

Primary Reasons For Reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

I began reading PaTC because the narration of the book is all first person. There is little dialogue and page after page of gray space–paragraph after long paragraph of literary fiction and flowery language. I wanted to see how that played.

My draft of The Voodoo Hill Explorer Club, a book I can’t seem to finish because of my back injury and all the hell, pain and suffering that have come with it three years ago as of May 13, well, VHEC up until I began a fourth or fifth revision in January, was first person, told by my main character Kirk Egerton. (It was previously Kirk Carson.)

After seeing how hard it is to read a first person narrative for three-hundred pages, I’m glad I made the switch in January. Using third person limited gives me more freedom within a scene to move around within the scene and show other angles without being in more than one head. I can still keep up the drama and suspense, but in my opinion, the writing is no longer boring.

So I began reading PaTC, and then put it down to read Treasure Island, which I am sad to say I’d never read as a child. But my childhood enthusiasm, still alive in me today, enjoyed the adventure. And since I’ve included a couple of Lord of the Rings references among the four teen boys in my book, I’ve had the urge to begin reading it again.

Since I have a Russian spy in my novel, my readings of great Russian novels, War and Peace, The Master and Margarita, Crime and Punishment, Fathers and Sons, along with And Quiet Flows the Don, just this year, has given me insight into the history of the Russians, people from Ukraine, and the Cossacks. From a local IHOP waitress several years ago, I learned that there is no love between Russians and those from the Ukraine. I have three or four more Russian novels still to read in my research.

Opioids and My Brain

What I continue to do is grow my mind. I have seen a significant difference in my brain function since before I was injured and now three years after. My counselor is challenging me to do daily mental exercises so that my brain will restore neural pathways that have been affected by 10.5 months of opioids. He believes, based on his studies of brain plasticity, is that I can enjoy some success to restoring some in not all of the sharpness I once had.

I remain optimistic, but also feel like I’m behind the eight ball. Yes, at 53 there’s probably some degradation because of my age, but not this much. My concentration is shot to hell and back, too.

That makes it hard to sit at a chair and get much done. I can tell myself I’m going to sit and get a lot done today on the computer. But before long my brain aches and is telling me something else. Then I get up and my back is another matter. The epidurals from December was wearing thin. If I had the money right now I’d go get another round of treatments from my pain doctor.

Meantime, I trudge forward to the best of my ability. I’ve not given up on writing my book and getting it published. Even if I manage 10, 15, 30 minutes a day, you add enough of those together, eventually I have a completed work.

But then I go back and re-read a chapter from a few days ago and wonder where my mind was when I was making revisions.


This is highly frustrating. I dislike venturing out these days because when I run into people I answer their first question, “How are you doing?” with a half-truth. “I’m doing okay.” I try to make it convincing, as I’ve learned, we all know, people don’t want to hear “this, this and this still hurt like fire, and my doctor says this, and that doctor wants to do that, and I just got put on this med and it’s making me…..”

It’s easier to stay away and avoid the whole thing. Plus it is so draining. And I’m tired enough as it is. I hurt enough as it is.

So maybe we could meet today at the Prancing Pony. Down by the creek where the water bug sucked the insides out of the frog and left its skin floating on the water was a life process I did not know happened. I got much farther with Thoreau but still haven’t finished Walden either. Same thing, first person straight through walking through the woods.

I’m happy I’ve switched over to third-person limited. The waters flow a little faster that way….


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