1. JMTweedie
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    JMTweedie Senior Member

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    A bit annoyed

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by JMTweedie, Aug 18, 2011.

    I am currently reading a sci-fi novel (first in a series) that is written in first person throughout.

    It's a fairly interesting storyline so far but I'm struggling with the way the author uses first person POV for whoever the main character is in a particular scene.

    Shouldn't first person only ever be used for one character only throughout the whole novel or in fact series of novels?

    I'm struggling with the first person charatcter switching, I don't know who is thinking or talking in each scene any more. Aargh!

    I think I'll give up on reading this novel.
     
  2. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    There was this book I was reading the other day. The Mall by S.L. Grey. It does this as well. Though the beginning of each chapter is titled with the POV characters name, so there's no confusion who the "I" is. It wasn't too bad.

    I think if a books going to use this device, the individual voices need to be very strong and very distinctive, so that you recognize who's speaking without being told.
     
  3. Clumsywordsmith
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    Clumsywordsmith Active Member

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    Heheh... I think you'd just love Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion...

    Which is to say, it all depends how it's done. The aforementioned book is considered a true classic. Yet he jumps from first to third and back to first person in a different character again all throughout the story, leaving only clues for the discerning reader to notice and realise when he's shifted from one character to the next.

    Saying "first person should only be used for this or for that..." is automatically limiting the art inherent to writing. If you don't enjoy it, then fine, by all means put the book down (and by no means would I actually recommend you read Sometimes a Great Notion, in light of the opinion showed through your post!). But there's nothing wrong with an author experimenting in style.
     
  4. JMTweedie
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    JMTweedie Senior Member

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    I wasn't actually saying they shouldn't use use first person for whatever reason. I was actually asking a question in the hope of enlightenment.

    I'd never come across a multi character first person POV before and I was just wondering if it was a literary no-no or not.
     
  5. JMTweedie
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    JMTweedie Senior Member

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    That doesn't sound so bad but when a new chapter starts with 'I' and no indicators at all, it's not so easy, especially when they are all on some kind of spacecraft. They all come across with the same sort of personalities too.
     
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I've read books that switch first-person POVs, or use first-person with one character and third person for other characters. Works fine if the author does it well.
     
  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, if that book's been published (and by the looks of things, plenty of others similar ones published) then I think it's not a literary no-no :D Besides, who defines these things anyway? Publishers and editors - so if they've published a book in that format, then it's done, and it's fine.

    Sounds like your author doesn't do it well, perhaps, especially if every character has the same voice :rolleyes:

    I've read a book with different POV once - but every chapter was indicated with the new character's name so it was easy.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not, but I would say that it's risky and agree that it's potentially annoying/confusing.

    ChickenFreak
     
  9. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    check out Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible.
     
  10. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    Natsuo Kirino has written multiple novels in this way and she's among my favourite authors. :)

    I actually think it's a brilliant way of learning more about other characters without the protagonist seeming almost omniscient by the end.
     

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