1. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    3rd Person Pov violations

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by peachalulu, Aug 21, 2013.

    I've been told felt is a pov violation.

    Here's a sample sentence -

    Avery felt his stomach flip.

    Someone said that the mc in third person wouldn't acknowledge feeling his stomach flip, it would be more along the lines of -

    Avery's stomach did a flip. or Avery's stomach flipped over.

    My only concern is that your stomach doesn't technically flip over it only feels like it does so wouldn't you mess with the logic of making it exact?
    Any ideas?
     
  2. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I don't know if there's a solid rule about this, but I don't see a problem with using 'felt' for 3rd person, as you've described it. Any more than 'wanted' or 'thought,' or any other word indicating what's happening inside the character's head.

    It's only wrong for a POV character to use it to describe another character, because one character can't get inside another character's head without special powers! However, a 3rd person narrator can.

    In fact, a 3rd person narrator can get in lots of characters' heads at one time. That's the whole point of writing in 3rd person.
     
  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Thanks, I was thinking the whole thing seemed kind of rigid but there are a lot of Pov tyrants out there
    calling you on every would-be flub.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Just looking at the logic of it, if the POV narrator knows the stomach flipped, why could they not know the character felt it? It's no different than saying, "Avery thought his stomach would flip."

    If it were 3rd person limited and not in Avery's head then the narrator could only say something like, "Avery's face was green as he reached for the barf bag."

    I think you've been told wrongly.
     
  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Well, I've been discussing it with some other writers and now they're saying it's distancing the reader - the felt is taking us out of Avery's reaction and filtering. Which I guess makes sense. Someone said it's perfectly okay sometimes, but too often and you're creating a distance between the reader and the mc.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    That makes it a preference rather than a POV rule violation thus a different animal.

    I'm still not seeing the logic, but I'm a novice that has learned the big stuff but not the finer points.

    Here's some rambling aloud which may make sense or be well off base: I think where I'm having trouble is how I am looking at "felt". If one is telling the reader how Avery experienced the event then 'felt' tells us something. Rather than distancing the reader, I see it as simply focusing on a different part of the event. Saying his stomach did a flip puts the focus on the whole experience rather than just how it felt to Avery.

    I can imagine people who are fine tuned to noticing these things know something I don't.
     
  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Yes, that could be it - more an issue of telling rather than showing rather than an actual pov violation. That way it could be more a question of style.
     
  8. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Isn't mixing part of the art? I forget which sci fi writer said this (maybe Orson Scott Card), but 3rd person POV can be written as a mixture of hot and cold penetration, depending on what you're trying to achieve.

    And yes, I love those terms.
     
  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I think that is what it is doing. It's not a POV violation, but it does create a certain amount of distance. My preference would be to say "Avery's stomach flipped." Everyone knows what this means, and that the stomach doesn't really flip. I don't think you'll have any logic or comprehension issues there, and if you're in a tight POV is makes sense that this is how the character would think of it.
     
  10. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm a novice, but it seems fine to me. If the aim of the writing is to see through the eyes of the POV character, then being told what they feel physically, beyond what they see and hear would help enhance that rather than making me feel distanced.
    I like this sort of writing.
    It' the sort of line I'd be inclined to write, so I hope it's not considered bad practice.

    Edit: Oh I see what you mean, you could just write "Avery's stomach flipped." like Steerpike says. As a reader it wouldn't make much difference to me personally either way.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2013
  11. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you hit the nail on the head and this is what I was going to say. (Unfortunately, site-related issues have slowed me to a crawl, so you beat me to the punch, LOL.) "Felt" doesn't distance us from the character; it merely shifts the focus from what happened to how he feels about what happened.

    And I disagree about it being a matter of show versus tell. Both are telling. It's just a matter of what you want to tell your readers about: "Avery's stomach ache" or "how Avery feels about his aching stomach." The latter does, however, distance us from the action, so I'd avoid it in an action scene.

    How I would choose between the two:

    Example 1: If Avery's stomach begins to ache and he's wondering what happened, what he ate, and/or why he's in pain, I would use "felt." In this case, the focus isn't on what is happening (action) but on how he feels about something going on in his body (introspection).

    Example 2: If Avery is in a fight and gets punched in the stomach, I'd focus on the incident, not on his feelings about said incident. The emphasis on his feelings wouldn't come until later; perhaps if his aching abdomen begins to affect his ability to fight and that's when I'd briefly shift focus to his feelings.

    That's just how I'd handle it. To each their own. :)
     
  12. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's not a POV violation, afaik.

    Yeah, it's generally called a filter, like "She saw a dog under the table" instead of writing "a dog sat under the table/there was a dog under the table." They do distance the reader in a way, like one may not feel that much like they're in the moment, but that's 3rd person for ya, it's rarely as "close" as the first person.

    Hot and cold penetration is something I tend to follow too, it probably comes pretty naturally when writing in 3rd.

    Readers probably get it that his stomach doesn't flip for real, so you don't have to use "felt" there, but you can, as I don't find that as jarring as some other filters, like the "she saw" -example. But yeah, just my opinion.
     
  13. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    To borrow a phrase from Maiamamma, all of that would fall into Breathe In Breathe Out and bores readers. I'm guilty of doing it too. In fact, I'm massaging my final draft of my novel to make sure I take them out.

    The comment 'Tony stared at the viewscreen' can fall into that too. There's ways of writing it, even if they're wordier, that say the same thing without having the boring aspect to them.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    for the uninitiated, my coinage of 'breathe-in/breathe-out' [bibo]writing is what i call micromanaging... the inclusion of every little physical movement of a character, that does nothing but put the reader to sleep and the book in the round file... such as:

     
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  15. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nah, the pov break would be if you are writing a scene from John's pov, but you use 'felt' to describe what someone else is feeling. Unless it's John thinking about someone he knows well, so he can interpret their reaction, or who told him how they felt before. Close 3rd person pov allows for exactly same insight into internal processes of the pov character as the 1st person, only you are using 'she/he' instead of 'I'.

    I completely disagree that this can somehow 'distance' the reader unwittingly. Bad writing is the only thing that distances the reader in a bad way ie. contrary to author's intent. Otherwise, a skilled writer manipulates the degree of closeness to suit the scene/paragraph/character/situation. And still, there are no rules, only whether the end product works or not.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013
  16. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    You've received some very valid observations on this post and I would have to agree that the mc feeling his stomach flip in no way violates POV. Remember high school and that, oh-so-good looking guy/gal who sat next to you in science? Every time s/he walked past you in the halls it made your stomach feel as though it was doing flips. Okay. So you felt your stomach doing flips. That is from your own personal POV. YOU felt it. To tell your best friend about your experience with the hotty you would feel it quite natural to tell him or her that either you felt your stomach doing flips or your stomach did flips. Either way would seem comfortable to you. Right? Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts. Get inside the human mind from your own perspective to try to understand how humans, in general, think and perceive experiences. It can help you to decode how your characters respond to experiences.

    Well, unless you are psychologically, mentally, emotionally totally disturbed, in which case ... just write horror stories! ;)
     

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