1. Bert
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    Bert New Member

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    Advice regarding POV

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Bert, Sep 25, 2013.

    Hi there. I'm new here... although when I tried to sign up it told me my email was already in use, so I must have sign up eons ago and forgotten. Anyway, that is not important right now...

    I have a question about POV. I am currently in the first 10,000 words of my latest effort to write a novel and I have plans to write from two points of view. My principal character is written in first person - he is a rambunctious and garrulous fellow so it's entertaining writing in his voice. The second POV character will be written in third person singular. Micheal Marshall employs this technique successfully in his Straw Men series and I experienced no jarring or disconnect while reading those books. I'd also like to show some scenes which don't feature either of my principal characters - to provide a broader canvas - but I'm wary of slinging third person omniscient into the mix as well!

    I'd appreciate thoughts and feedback.

    Thanks!
     
  2. smerdyakov
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    smerdyakov Senior Member

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    IMO, nothing wrong with third person omniscient as long as you have a line break to mark the different POVs. For different POVs, some recommend using chapters (staying in the one character's POV for the whole chapter) but it's whatever works really at the end of the day. Not confusing the reader is always the primary aim here I think :)

    I'd recommend (from what i've read and heard on the subject) however, that you stay in first person or third person narrative for the novel (don't mix the two) although there's no hard fast rules. But it generally isn't the done thing cos it throws readers off (like reading two books in the one really).
    Best of luck
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I dislike 3rd omniscient most of the time. I'd rather either leave the additional scenes out entirely or add other POV characters.

    Another option is to learn about what happened in the additional scenes second- or third-hand (i.e. bits and pieces mentioned in dialogue by non-POV characters who visited or took part in those scenes.

    There are many ways to figuratively flay a feline.
     
  4. Bert
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    Bert New Member

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    Thanks guys. Cogito, I'm wary of adding too many POV characters for fear of turning my story into a bloated epic in the vein of GoT! I think I'm going to write my main protagonist as 1st person and my secondary character as 3rd person limited. Transitions will be over chapters to avoid jarring or confusion. If Micheal Marshall can do it then why can't I?! Oh, right... because he's a successful published author at the top of his game and I'm er, not.

    Good idea? Or headed for disaster? :|
     
  5. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    You need to understand that the personal pronouns you choose aren't POV, but the way it's expressed. There is no difference between:

    I went to the garage to get the car.
    He went to the garage to get the car.
    You went to the garage to get the car.

    You can present viewpoint in first second or third, as suits you and the story. There are advantages and disadvantages to both to take into account, of course, but in most cases they're interchangeable. Mixing them has been done many times, but...it's not common, so readers aren't used to seeing them mixed, which makes a publisher a bit hesitant about risking company funds on an unknown writer doing it. Something to factor into your choice of mode.

    I mention all this because if you're using first person as a reason to have the narrator talk in more depth about events, in an editorial and informative way, never forget that telling is telling, be it in first or third person.

    This article might explain POV and its usage a bit better.
     
  6. Bert
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    Bert New Member

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    Thanks JayG. Good article.
    I'm just going to write and enjoy myself creating the worlds within my head. Sweat too much and it will cease to be a pleasure. Who wants to be the next JK Rowling huh? ;)
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've seen a number of books that use third person limited narrators just to convey a scene or two, and never returned to them. The waitress seeing the criminals meet in the diner, for example, or the murder victim approaching the house. (Yes, I read a lot of murder mysteries.) I'm not crazy about this, but I think that it would work better than jolting between first person, third person limited, and third person omniscient.

    I'd also suggest thinking long and hard about your first person character. You can convey a character's thoughts, emotions, opinions, mood, almost everything, in third person limited. I do agree that there is something of a limit to how much you can use his voice--though his thoughts can be in his voice. To hurriedly scribble up an example:

    Joe approached the diner, then stopped to slap his pockets. Dagnabbit! Forgot his wallet again. Like Ma always said, he'd be forgetting his ears next. He sighed and turned back to his car.

    My vote would be third person limited for everything. But it's not my book. :)
     
  8. Bert
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    Bert New Member

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    Thanks ChickenFreak (you really, really like chickens; or you're a freaky chicken? - in which case, good typing...). I was thinking this very thing just this morning. Incidental narrators to explain a scene which none of the principals are in - Stephen King does this a lot. And I think I'll have a pop at writing my main character in third person too. Much as it will hurt my heart. The book needs to be as publishable as possible because I must make seven point three million pounds from it... that's why we all do it right? Money and POWER. I jest of course. ;)
     
  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It's hard, sometimes, to tell a story from only one POV, no matter which one you choose.

    Sometimes there are scenes and/or perspectives that do require input from other characters. Changing POV can certainly enrich a story, but, like any other literary tool, there are also drawbacks.

    I think we've all read books, where we're happily motoring along in one character's head ...maybe for several chapters in a row ...then WHAM, we're yanked out of their story and stuffed into somebody else's head instead. This sudden shift can be momentarily disappointing. Of course, if the book is well-written, you soon get into the new character's head, and motor happily along with them, too. But then WHAM you're back with the original character again, or you're presented with yet another.

    I think there is always that little trade-off, between the ability to tell a broader story using several POV characters and keeping the reader engaged and able to relate to whoever's eyes and brain are presenting the story at any given time. Readers instinctively don't like being jerked in and out of characters' heads, so I would say make the transition as smooth as you possibly can—especially if your reader will be developing emotional attachment to the POV you're shifting from. I'd say make as few of these shifts as possible, and always make them count.
     
  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Tom Clancy does this a lot, particularly in the later Jack Ryan novels. I don't have a problem with it.

    I generally prefer 3rd limited. I only use 1st when I have a specific reason for wanting the narration to be in his voice, such as needing to immerse the reader in his state of mind. In my current project, I am using 1st person for the present-day segment of the story and 3rd limited for the historical segments.
     
  11. kburns421
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    kburns421 Member

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    If I'm not mistaken, the entire Pendragon series by DJ MacHale goes between 1st person journal entry POV for the MC and 3rd person POV for some of the other important characters. I think the 3rd parts were omniscient as they covered many different characters... I must admit it has been years since I read those books since I read them in middle/high school, but I never felt jarred or had a problem with it.
     

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