Creative Writing: Using Distance in Fiction

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by cberents
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Language Arts

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Creative Writing: Using Distance in Fiction

First person tells a story from the perspective of a single character using the pronoun "I." Using first person narration brings the reader as emotionally close to a character as possible by providing a window into their thoughts. First person can help the reader connect with your story by conveying the protagonist's unique voice, but also limits you to that character's thoughts(see video for further discussion).


Verb Tense

Past tense is historically the most common tense used in fiction. It provides some distance from a story, giving the impression that the story's events have already happened and the narrator is now reflecting on them.Present tense brings the reader directly into the story's action, giving the impression that they are happening "now." Present tense has become very popular in recent years, but it's also associated with the genre of young adult fiction. Employ care when choosing present tense.Further Reading: The Pros and Cons of Writing a Novel in Present Tense

First Person

Second Person

Second person tells a story using the pronoun "you." This type of narration speaks directly to the reader, so that the reader "becomes" the character and enters the character's experiences. Though second person can enable the reader to directly identify with your protagonist, it can also have the opposite effect, or may draw the reader so close as to be emotionally stifling. For this reason, second person is rare, especially in novel length writing.Further Reading:Is Second Person POV a Smart Choice for a Novel?

Third Person

Third person tells a story from the perspective of an external narrator, referring to the character(s) with pronouns like "he," "she," or "they." Using third person gives you more power over storytelling than first person but greater distance. There are two main types of third person narration.

Third Person Limited Vs Omniscient

In third limited, the narrator is an outside observer that only shares the thoughts of the protagonist. Third limited keeps the reader close to the protagonist's feelings.

In third omniscient, the narrator knows everything about a story and may enter the thoughts of any character at will. Because there are no limitations created by what a character doesn't know, third omniscient often makes it easier to relay events.

Sources:[Eyes and nose] Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved on 12/615 from

Using Distance:


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