Writing in Third Person Multiple Selective

Hello everyone, and welcome back!

Today, I want to talk about writing in Multiple Selective. This is a technique that can be used in first, second, or third person. It’s a style that, like Limited, is universal in how it can be used. That makes it pretty simple, but there is always one problem with it. No one knows what it is.

I seriously found the term by accident when I was researching different styles in defense of using Omniscient (We all learn for one reason or another, right? lol). It’s called by as many names as there are hours in the week, but the words “Selective” or “Multiple” are used in almost every instance. It’s also a prevalent style that’s often confused with Limited, and with good reason.

Simply put, Multiple Selective is a combination of Limited and Omniscient. Basically, it’s usually scene or chapter breaks to show a switch in POV (Point of View) while being written with an all-seeing eye, Omniscient-type of style that includes things the character doesn’t witness directly. Another way of explaining it is, the reader sees and knows everything around the focused character that the character doesn’t, as well as their thoughts. Does that make sense?

Here’s an example of Limited:

Jake shook his head and looked at the clock. I can’t believe it’s so late. He set down the knife and half sliced tomato. He couldn’t keep doing this. He needed to talk to the manager about changing his hours.

Turning, he headed toward the office. He ignored a clang and cursing behind him as he focused on what to say to his boss as he approached the office door.

-Notice how we only see what he experienced and felt first hand? We’re forced to wait to find out what happened, or we may forget about it so the result could be a fun mysterious surprise.

Here’s an example of Multiple Selective:

Jake shook his head and looked at the clock. I can’t believe it’s so late. Shaking his head, he set down the knife and half sliced tomato. He couldn’t keep doing this. He needed to talk to the manager about changing his hours.

He hadn’t realized he set the knife on the edge of the table before turning to leave. One of his coworkers lunged for it as it fell, but he missed and the clanging sound it made hitting the floor earned it a curse.

Jake continued on unfazed, focused on what he’d say to his boss as he approached the office door.

-Notice the change in that we experienced the happenings around the character as well as those within his attention? It’s a subtle change, but one that may add something more to the scene.

In Limited, Jake wouldn’t have realized the knife had fallen until he returned, and then only if his coworker had cleaned and returned it to the table. It could also have added a mysterious quality to his return, depending on how his talk with the manager went and we’d experience it with him.

In Multiple Selective, we know what happened, so we may have some anticipation for when he returns to find the knife moved or gone, again, depending on how his talk went.

Pretty cool, huh? It’s an interesting dilemma given how much we want to add to our story or what direction we want to take it in. The best thing is, both styles work, and one of the biggest pros with this style is keeping the free flowing feel of Omniscient while sating those that want every POV separated and it scratched our itch to fill in what’s happening around the character (Always a tough choice, no matter what style we choose). In many cases, it’s the best of both worlds, and comes down to what we wish to do with our characters and stories.

Given it’s versatility, it’s easy to see how Multiple Selective can be confused with other styles. In truth, Multiple Selective is probably the easiest to use out of the three (Multiple Selective, Limited, Omniscient), so this could become the prominent style in time.

Have you tried this style? If so, do you have any tips or ideas I missed you’d like to share? As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, my friends, let your imaginations fly!


About CP Bialois

Where do I begin? Well first I guess it's only fair to say that CP Bialois isn't my real name. It's a collaboration I made out of the three greatest pets anyone could ever want. My real name is Ed and I'm just an average person that has found a way to do what he loves. For as long back as I can remember I loved to pretend. Whether it was with my Transformers, GI Joe, or He-Man toys I loved to create intricate plots and have them fight it out. As a fan of horror, science fiction, action, and comedy I dare say my taste in movies are well rounded. Some of my favorites were Star Wars, Star Trek, martial arts, and anything with Swarzenegger in them. I'd write my own stories about the characters I saw in the theaters or TV or I'd just daydream about what I'd see myself as the hero of course. You can't have a daydream without beating the bad guys, getting the girl, etc. It's just not right to envision yourself as a flunky or sidekick. As far as books I loved Sherlock Holmes, Treasure Island, Dracula, and the normal assortment. My early love was the Star Trek novels, I'd read them or the Hardy Boys relentlessly. For a time I could tell you the plot of over a hundred books not to mention comics. I have to come clean and say that I learned to read because of comic books. I was bored, make that extremely bored when we started to read in school. Reading "the cat fell down" really didn't interest me. My dad, who continues to astound me with his insight to this day, figured comics would work. With that in mind he went to the newstand in town and bought issues of Donald Duck, Scrooge McDuck, Tales From the Crypt, and Spider-man. He patiently read through them with me until I picked it up. Whether it was him or the comics I learned to read in about two weeks and for a while few were as good as I was. For years after that whenever we'd go out he'd always spring for a couple of comic books for me. While it wasn't exactly the perfect beginning everything I've ever read or have seen has influenced me in some way and now is the time I'd like to share some of the ideas I've had over the years with all of you. I hope you enjoy my stories, they're always fun to write and I don't see myself stopping anytime soon.
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4 Responses to Writing in Third Person Multiple Selective

  1. Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    Here is a great post on the subject of using third person multiple selective.

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