1. rybowman
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    rybowman New Member

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    A thought on POV

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by rybowman, Nov 18, 2010.

    Not sure if this should be posted here or in General Writing.

    Anyway, I'm looking for opinions regarding a particular scene in the novel I'm working on. For the entire novel the third person POV shifts between three main characters, except for one scene that I currently have written from the POV of a character other than the main three. It is only one scene and she is a fairly minor character.

    My question is, is this completely unheard of? Poor style? Some people I've asked have told me "if it works, do it." For some reason I'm not completely satisfied with that. Does anyone know of another novel that has done this successfully? Or conversely, is anyone aware of a reason this absolutely does not/can not work?

    A little bit of context for the scene: this character turns out to the be only alibi for man accused of a crime. However, she goes missing. I find it difficult to just tell the reader she has gone missing without any explanation for it. I feel the single scene from her POV can show rather than tell why she leaves town and is a satisfying prelude to her disappearance. One other option I thought of is her leaving a note behind which can explain her leaving town, but I feel this to be a little bit forced and contrived.

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    If it works, do it.

    Really though -- switching POVs can work out great if you can pull it off. There's tons of chick lit books with a group of 3-5 friends where each MC has an equal amount of POV time, and the authors who know what they're doing can make it work. (Okay I know that's way different from your story, but it's the only example I had off the top of my head)

    The thing is, you have to be careful with making sure that all of these characters are developed enough. Make sure we actually care about these characters and can relate to them. Sometimes, if you try to bite off more characters than you can chew (sorry for the cliche), each one will fall short a bit. Just watch out for that.
     
  3. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    The chaos walking series does the "multiple character switching" quite well (in its later iterations), as do several other books. As for a sudden shift to 1st person for a minor character, I've seen this done, albeit rarely. I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work.
     
  4. TobiasJames
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    TobiasJames Contributing Member

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    I know what you mean though, I wouldn't be comfortable with it. It seems like a bit of a cop out to me. I'd prefer the "mystery" to be explained through discovery by the other characters, because the one-off switch would be too awkward and forced IMHO.

    The only place where I'd be content with a completely different character and POV taking control of the story would be in a prologue or epilogue.
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have done it with my second book - I have switched from my MC (Socrates) to his lover (Nate) but for the second half of the novel his lover is the MC - my MC turned evil his mind was invaded and controlled by his sister and he goes missing. I couldn't face being inside his head during that time lol

    Final chapter is currently third person but this a first draft and I hope to change the final chapter to first person - I just don't know which one will tell it or if I can do it from both POVs somehow.

    There is a Hardy Boy series that does it quite well it alternates chapters in first person between Frank and Joe.

    Like everyone else says do what works for your story.
     
  6. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes. It works, when it works. The trick was used in the Harry Potter books for example.

    But if some part of your brain is telling you that it doesn't work for some reason, fix it. Because that voice might be right.
     
  7. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    My thoughts exactly, although I'd amend it to say, do it and if it works, keep it. Sometimes trial and error is necessary in writing. You gotta take some risks and not all of them may pan out; but playing it safe is just going to keep a writer chained up.

    So yeah, I say do it, and if it works, keep it.
     
  8. Beth
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    Beth Member

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    I'll tell you my opinion as a reader, not as a writer. Everytime I see a new POV in a story, I expect that character to have some important role in the plot sooner or later. If yours is just a side character, then I might be disappointed to discover that in the end and wonder why you, author, have cheated my expectations.
     
  9. Naiyn
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    Naiyn Contributing Member

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    If what this character is motivated by, what she fears, how she thinks etc... when she goes missing is crucial to the story and providing that perspective helps to tie everything together, then by all means, put it in.

    However, if it's just a some filler, where her thoughts and actions and reactions are not cruicial to the overall story (in other words, if the story is basically the same with or without it) then you would do better to leave it out.
     
  10. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I see what you're talking about. I am working on a novel that switches to third person point of view, and I did not know if this was a good idea or not. In this case, my main character briefly lost his friendship with Becky and Christina, so they kicked him out of the Friends Stick like Glue Club. After the business was going slow, I switched to another character. Actually, two characters were the main characters at the same time, because the regular main character was elsewhere. I temporarily used Christina and Becky as the main characters of the scene and chapter when they went to the narrator's father's house to ask him why the Friends Club was going out of business all of a sudden. When the narrator's father suggested that they should forgive him, they decided to search for the narrator, until they found him. After they found him, the narrator became the main character again.

    In my opinion, I believe that this is not a bad idea if your character isn't active on one particular chapter. I mean, to me, I wanted to tell my readers how was the Friends Club going after the twins kicked the main character out, and the main character was minding his own business somewhere. I'm not 100 percent sure if this is a good thing to do, is switch to third person point of view seeing what the other characters are thinking about.
     

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