Creative Writing Tip: how to characterize secondary characters without head hopping

Creative Writing with the Crimson League

We authors all know that writing fiction in a third person limited point of view comes with a lot of challenges. Yesterday, someone asked me if I could write specifically about two of them.

  • When your narrator is limited to following one character, how do you stay in that one character’s POV consistently?
  • How do you develop other characters without getting into their heads too?

Fleshing out a Supporting Cast

First off: If this is something you struggle with, I suggest you read or reflect upon the Harry Potter series. It is a fabulous example of efficient characterization with a third person limited POV.

JKR’s books aren’t perfect, but man, does she flesh out characters such as Snape, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore,  McGonagall, and Lupin! And the narrator never gets near their heads. The reader is always with Harry.

This characterization problem also makes me think of my first published novel…

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