One of the variations of the third person POV is that of the limited consciousness. Typically, when a story is being narrated via the third person, there is a certain amount of leeway that the narrator has in terms of relating the thoughts and feelings of characters other than the protagonist. In the first person point of view, the experiences and thoughts can only be those of the protagonist. The third person with limited consciousness is for lack of a better term, a hybrid between the first person and the more common third person point of views. The narration of the story is still relayed as an observer of the story (he said, she did) but the narration should only the experiences and knowledge of the protagonist. One of my teachers once explained the point of view with an interesting analogy. His comment was to think of a movie being filmed and where the cameraman is, and what can be presented to the audience. With a first person story (or a third person with limited consciousness), the “camera” (i.e. with a book, the narrative voice) is affixed to the protagonist – the narrator cannot relay events that aren’t personally observed by the protagonist, unless those events were “told” to the protagonist by another character. Similarly, the narration cannot include thoughts of any other characters, as the narrator is unable to see inside the minds of another character. Inferences can be made based on the actions and words, but it is never direct knowledge.
One of the primary disadvantages of this particular point of view is that the author has to be very careful to follow these “rules”. This isn’t to say that an author is forbidden from violating these guidelines, but the story can be impacted with what is termed as a point of view violation. From my experiences with reading and writing, I can see how a violation of the point of view of story can effectively “lift” the reader out of the story and disrupt their flow and enjoyment of it.
During my creative writing course at the University of Toronto, we were often given stylistic assignments relating to certain aspects of creative writing. In my published anthology of short stories on Amazon (), my story “Crisis of Faith” is a story that is told in the third person with limited consciousness point of view. It’s a very short story, but it follows a day in the life of a preacher in Texas who has his own crisis of religious faith as a result of a personal betrayal. Through the development of that story, my objective was to ensure that the narration always followed the experiences of Salvador as he deals with this betrayal in his personal life.