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  1. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    A rift in pov

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by GuardianWynn, Aug 31, 2015.

    Well, this is kind of a tricky question. Because I know we can shift POV intentionally at like a chapter break. I know many writers do that successfully. I know one key is to establish instantly that this has happened as to not confuse the reader.

    What I want to know is; when is doing this a good thing?

    Basically I afraid my current timing is poor. So I got this story. Common story, about a girl, who didn't know her family. Slowly discovering she is a god(excuse me. God-like* lol) and well her story is about becoming awesome. So she isn't full awesome page one. There is a few instances where I shift away from her to one of her friends.

    In case one about 9 chapters in. She and her friend are mugged. She takes it well, her friend not as well. So Chapter 09 shifts POV to the friend and how the friend deals with the situation. I did this for 2 reasons;
    1. The main girl didn't have a reaction or not much of one. So her next day was kind of boring. Which I thought is good. I don't want to imply everyday is special.
    2. The other girl did react. So shifting to her is not only more interesting but gives insight into her character.

    In case 2 is chapter 12. It in the villian. Not that you would know it. Again the MC knows her but she is always polite, and nice. She smiles and is well calm. The POV shift to her sort of shows her take the mask off and go evil for a moment. The thing is. Not full evil. Not so much so that you go. "DAMN SHE IS THE VILLAIN!" but more like "Damn! So that niceness is a facade!" There was clues to her being mean before now.

    Case 3 I think might be the most acceptable. Haven't reached the part of the story but 6 heroes break into a camp. They are forced to split up. I plan to change POV to each of them. This seems like the obvious one. Yet someone was saying that the other shifts are thus better because of this shift. That I am establishing that shifts happen. If that is true do I need more? Is 3 too few? Just right? How many is too many?

    Thanks.
     
  2. rainy_summerday
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    rainy_summerday Active Member

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    In general, I like shifts in POV. When done skillfully, they greatly contribute to the atmosphere of the novel. The reader, in a way, is manipulated without feeling manipulated, because the reader feels like they are getting deeper insight, while a shift in POV can also hide the twist of the story. To me, the most important thing is that you know what you are doing and why you are doing it. Doing no shifts in POV should be just as much of a conscious decision than doing loads.

    Your case 1 is a prime example of a "motivated" shift, because you wish to highlight the emotional impact of the event. Since it would contradict your MC's characterisation if she reacted strongly, you therefore transfer the POV to the other character affected by the event.

    However, your case 2 sounds somewhat risky to me. I understand your reasons for that, and it sure is a motivated shift. You wish to partially reveal the character's attitude so that the readers - after reading your novel - will feel like they should have expected the twist.
    I assume that when you write the character's POV, you are thinking of a figural narrative situation or a first-person narrative situation (which would be quite bold, having multiple "I" narrators). In this case, the internal processes of the character are open to the reader. This is also called an internal perspective (I hope I do not bore you with these terms). If you deliberately reveal part of your character's attitude, but deliberately put the mask back on for the reader at some point in the scene, you slip into an external perspective. Basically, the chapter will read as an authorial narrative situation, because a narrator "intervenes" to hide the truth the reflector (your character) would reveal. The readers will not notice this at first, but when re-reading the novel, they know about the twist. Then they will consciously recognise that they were misled. They will notice the break between those two narratives. Though few will know why the place in your novel feels off.
    I personally don't think this will harm your story in any way. But I feel like I should point this out. Once it is written, you may want to re-read the particular scene, and then decide whether you feel like the break seems sloppy or fine to you. Sometimes it is the hardest part of the writing process itself to figure out why something feels odd to you, even though you cannot spot the origin of the feeling.
    I am not saying that this is a mistake in any way. But you probably did not realise that you broke with much more than just the POV in this case. To me, it seemed like you knew why you did this, but not quite what you did.

    And I agree with that person. If you split the POV later on into multiple characters as reflectors, then I would establish beforehand that you are writing a "playful" novel. Otherwise it might disturb the readers' flow. Change is good, but a heads-up in advance will make people more comfortable with unusual developments.
     
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  3. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    You are awesome!

    Okay. I am guessing you didn't mention case three because it is the easiest to side with?

    I sort of get what you mean in case two but I feel some of it is going over my head. Currently I was writing in third person. The concept in more detail is that the villain and hero are friends. Not in a manipulative way actually. They are genuinely friends. A moment happens where the hero risks themselves. The concept is for the most part the same as with the case 1. In the sense that the hero has little reaction to risking themselves and that the villain is furious at the prospect. So they go to the person responsible and well kind of hang them off a roof by there leg. lol. Okay not really but for the point they might as well. In the sense that it doesn't confirm them as evil but it does reveal a side they conceal in the presence of the main characters. If that gives more context to what I did.

    Sadly enough I don't mean to just randomly flood more context. I am not exactly sure which aspect of your wall of text(beautiful wall of text) went over my head. I just know that some aspect of it did and I know I want to know what I currently don't. :D
     
  4. rainy_summerday
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    rainy_summerday Active Member

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    Oh, I see. That was quite illuminating, thank you!

    My mistake. I assumed that your "evil" character genuinely disliked the MC and only pretended to be nice to her. For obvious reasons, I was wrong :)
    Then please forget my paragraph about case 2. It does not apply, because you are not hiding a twist. Instead, you have a motivated shift in POV similar to case 1. Sounds fine to me.

    I rather smoothed over case 3, didn't I?

    Personally, I am more in favour of case 1 and 2. They are fairly straight-forward.
    The split into six different POV seems excessive and difficult to follow. I did not mention this before, because I did not wish to discourage you. There is nothing wrong with case 3. it's simply a personal dislike. I would not write it, but I would read it.

    I believe that you will be fine as long as you know why you need all six POV. For example, are all of them achieving something on their own that the other characters cannot observe from their positions? Are all of them contributing to the novel's progress in this scene?
    If the answer is yes, then by all means, split the POV. It can be very interesting and dynamic.

    In any case: It seems like a good idea to include other shifts (like case 1 and 2) in your novel should you decide on case 3. The audience will feel more at ease with the shifts if the change in POV is already an established technique in your novel. Otherwise it will be too much with too little warning.
     
  5. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah I see.

    So do you think I should include more? Or do you think two is enough?

    Technically I don't need to split it. Nothing that major really happens. Actually I don't need a six way split either. Currently the idea is they split into 3 pairs. Some of the pairs are further split up but one pair is not. So I guess five POV. The idea isn't plot point so much.... actually damn. Two of them actually do have a plot point. Didn't realize that. Well the other three don't. The idea is less a needed shift and more. Well my work has action. This is the climax. This is the big moment. Four of these six characters were main characters. They are getting separated, alone in a dangerous place. This is the edge of your seat moment. Is that a good reason to split it up?
     
  6. rainy_summerday
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    rainy_summerday Active Member

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    The only one who can tell how many POVs will be necessary is yourself, because you are the only one who knows your story by heart. If two of them have got a plot point, then by all means, split the POV. I am not sure about the other characters. It's your call to make, not mine.


    Maybe you need to think about how you will split the POV.

    What you intend to do in case 3 is called multiperspectivity. It can be used to heighten the tension, which is your why. There are different options to synthesise the perspectives. Either the characters all present the same time span from their perspective, or the time frame is divided into different parts and each part is told from a different perspective.
    This will change the effect of the shifts on the reader. Usually, if the six perspectives are set in the same time span (simultaneously), then you will slow down the narrative. It takes you longer to give an account of this time span than it would take to stage it. You artifically stretch the moment.
    If the allotted time is divided into different perspectives in chronologic order, then you will keep the real time pacing. However, the shifts will create the illusion of a faster pace, because the readers often interpret changes in POVs as small timeskips. You artificially accelerate the point in time.

    That's what I meant with thinking about "why" and "how". If you know the answers to both of these questions, then you will have a much easier time with the shifts.
     
  7. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh yeah right. I mean. Yeah only I know my story just right but I meant like. If you agree that having POV shifts before the end will help in the sense of establishing that I do that. Do you think I need more than 2 POV shifts to get that establishment?

    Thinking about it. I think I am going with the increase the pace. Because while I don't have ever detail set up. The character split up and begin to reunite. Like the best example is this.
    Split into 3 teams of 2 people.
    Split into 1 team of 2 people and 5 singles.
    Each one begins to fight.
    2 character win, and are then seen moving. These two characters meant other characters as there battles are finishing.

    In that sense it is like When one persons fight finished. I switch POV to the next fight in real time. While they are fighting the moving pieces keep moving leading to the that person catching up to save the next fighter. Right?

    Oh fudge buckets. I just remembered! I had 3 other characters that it might benefit to switch to there POV at moments. lol.

    But you think the Multiperspectivity is a good art call for a moment like this?
     
  8. Elena Schmetterling
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    Elena Schmetterling Member

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    Dear GuardianWynn,

    The first thing to say is that POV shifts are very, very risky. I mean VERY risky. First of all, it is probably better to have all of the POV characters with their own POV chapter/paragraphs/scene in the beginning of the novel. Why? So the reader hasn't invested in the main character's voice, for there to be another one thrown in there. It could happen that they just skip to the more familiar voice. In your case three, I'd strongly suggest you don't do all 6 points of view! You will need to make each voice completely different, and if it's going to be only action scenes, that will be pretty tough.

    Where is your protagonist in these six? Why can't we just focus on him/her? You could have it so that your MC sees a bit of what's going on from 1-3 other heroes, but sometimes you can't show the reader everything.

    It will also seem pretty random for there to be a character to have their POV for 2,000 words, and never hear from them again. In saying this, I mean - stick to as few as you can. If you were to include all of these, how many POVs would you have in total?
    (I think I might note, I love the "Alptraumkatze" tag!)
     
  9. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh of course a POV shift would get something to break it; likely its own chapter.

    Well actually the shifts would be towards characters you know, with 2 exceptions. The concept is the MC along with her friends storms the castle in a sense. If I only follow one of them, doesn't that mean a lot of cool moments happen off screen?

    This would be like if Harry Potter had a moment where they split up in a maze and then cutting to the 3 kids and what happened to each of them. Wouldn't a reader want to know?
     
  10. Elena Schmetterling
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    Elena Schmetterling Member

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    I seriously think you may be setting yourself up for disaster. What I meant was that each character whose POV you use, has had a POV chapter consistently throughout the novel, so they don't seem to be randomly added in.

    Yes, they will be to characters we know, but how much will we know about them? If it isn't much, a chapter from their voice may seem out of place, and you could risk the reader skipping it for a more familiar voice.

    It is almost frustrating how you don't seem to be taking my words seriously as they don't follow what you want to do. Yes it would be interesting to see three different people, but you could avoid a separate chapter for each by making them work together, or overlapping their paths fairly often.

    Just because it would look cool, doesn't mean you should do it. If a distinct voice (distinct, not annoying) isn't established for each character, it would seem like the same character talking, just in someone else's body. They could even end up forgetting there has been a POV switch.

    It could even get boring to see the same maze walls three times, the same mode of fight scene, etc.

    If this is your first time, I suggest stick to as few as possible. If you're certain you can do it well, don't let me stop you.
     
  11. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am taking you seriously :D. I do want your opinion. My opinion being different isn't a lack of taking you seriously. In this case I don't have much of an opinion which is why I started the thread.

    If the concern is character voice. I am pretty confident I can handle that. Sort of. I noticed I can still mess up in the sense of the voice /narrartor slip. I am getting better at it. The characters are different enough where I am confident I can split there voice. Though this book is in the third person?

    Your advice sounds a lot more sound if it was first person. When "I, Me" is going to be used. Since it would be a much more logical conclusion to forget the shift. Do you still feel this in response to a third person set up?

    In my head I picture it like a movie. Movies shift all the time without any grief but I realize a book isn't a movie. Which is why I am asking for help. :D But I also know this is a technique that is done in books. So I am more asking "How to do it right" instead of "if I should do it" If that makes sense.

    Thank you for your opinions. :)
     
  12. Elena Schmetterling
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    Elena Schmetterling Member

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    Woah! If it's in the third person, is it omniscient or fixed?

    Anyway, if it's fixed, you may want to be wary.
    If omniscient, 1) Perfectly fine.
    Still not sure about 2 and 3. Going to the POV of the antag just to reveal he's bad? Wouldn't it be nice to see the protag's reaction from their point of view?
    3.. Don't do all 6. 3 is more than enough. Just show what happens by having heroes see bits of the other heroes' conflicts.

    If the POV in the novel is constantly switching anyway, this shouldn't be a problem.
     
  13. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think I was a bit more fixed. Though I am not great at this. lol

    Well for 2. The person wouldn't reveal themselves to them like that. Did you read this post?
    Because that sort of gave context I didn't in the opening post.

    I am still unsure how often it should shift away to prepare for this ending. lol
     
  14. rainy_summerday
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    rainy_summerday Active Member

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    More POV shifts are possible, but from the first shift onwards, you already establish that you might do this again. It sets a precedence. I believe that if you do not consider more shifts necessary, then those two are sufficient to prepare your reader for the multiperspective chapter(s).


    Yes, I do. If you are not good at depicting fighting scenes (many authors are not), this is a good possibility to smooth over it. You present the reader with another skill of yours: The realistic voices of your characters.

    As you mentioned in one of your other posts: Multiperspectivity is something done by directors to increase a movie's pace. It's not often done in novels, because it can be tricky. But if you feel able to give each character their own unique voice, then this is certainly a good idea. Daring, sure. But if authors never took risks, then literature would stagnate. It would stop evolving and redefining itself.
     
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  15. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks. :D
     

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