1. Beth
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    Beth Member

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    Alternated pov: love story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Beth, Jan 8, 2016.

    Hi everyone and happy 2016!

    I'm well into my novel, which is mainly a love story. I have twelve chapters so far, and so far I've alternated his and her pov, a chapter each, that is third person limited to his or her experience. Now, things have evolved in the story and I l'd like to write one chapter, just one long descriptive chapter where povs are "mixed". That would mean that all of a sudden the omniscent author is telling the story, rendering both povs at once, so we know what both characters are thinking. Do you think this is feasible, and, in case, what are the risks and do you have any suggestions to get the best out of this choice?

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2016
  2. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'd have to see how that actually works before saying for sure, but I'd be wary of suddenly switching to head-hopping in mid-story. If it's possible, I'd work this scene from a single character's POV, but make sure the reader can accurately guess the other person's thoughts by what they say and do within the scene. And of course your POV character can do a lot of guessing as well ...perhaps accurately, perhaps not. It's fun when the reader knows the POV character is getting the wrong idea about the other person.

    I'm speaking from some experience, as I came to this sort of problem partway through my own book. I had been taking the route of showing the same scene twice, on occasion—once from the female character's POV, then repeating it from the male character's POV. I thought this was a terribly clever approach because it would be so interesting to see the same thing from different perspectives—until one of my betas (who liked my story otherwise) said it annoyed him because 'he already knew all that.'

    He pointed out (paying me a compliment in the process) that I'd done a good enough job showing one character's reactions via another character's POV that I didn't need to explain them later on. This was nice to know. I ended up ditching all the 'repeats' and choosing the best POV character to convey each scene instead. This involved a major re-write of only one chapter, and had the added bonus of cutting lots of words from my overly-long MS.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2016
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  3. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    My romance follows the same pattern - one chapter for her, then one for him. I also had events that were more effective if told from both perspectives, so I split them into multiple chapters with no time passing in between (the course of a single evening spans six chapters, three of hers and three of his). I always try to make it clear immediately - in the first paragraph of each chapter - whose head we're in.

    I would never mix perspectives in a single chapter because, as a reader, it would be confusing and pull me out of the story if I suddenly had to adjust to an omniscient point of view. I think most readers would feel that something was off, even if they're non-writers who couldn't phrase it in terms of point of view. If they're used to a (presumably) third limited POV, they'll be searching for clues as to whose head they're in and will get mixed signals. They might even think it was an error on your part rather than deliberate.

    Another risk with omni is that, generally, it makes a reader more distant from the characters - like they're hovering in the sky looking down at them, instead of in the room with them. I think that's a big mistake in a romance, where you want the reader to feel almost like they're part of the relationship themselves.
     
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  4. Beth
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    Beth Member

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    Thanks to both

    The reason behind this question is I'm finishing this chapter where the guy takes the girl up to the top of a mountain to see the dawn from a high place (very simply said). The chapter is from her POV of course, cos it's a surprise. The last scene in the chapter was meant to be where she opens her eyes and is dazzled by the sun shining on the mist... It's a crescendo, and this should have been the last scene before a new chapter and new change of POV.
    The fact is, they're a fresh couple. I need a sex scene there. It is unthinkable that a fresh couple of reasonably young people wouldn't feel the need for sex after such a breathtaking moment.
    What I thought to do was just stop the chapter with the dazzling sunlight and then start a new chapter from the hot scene (THERE on the rocks). But, wait, the next chapter should be from HIS perspective and I just don't need his thoughts on making love to her, not now. So I think I'll just stick the sex scene at the end of HER chapter. Let's see how it comes out!
     
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  5. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Ha, I had the same problem. :D My first sex scene 'should' have fallen on a Him Chapter, but for various reasons I decided it was more effective from her perspective. So I split the day and night up into three chapters, meaning we didn't have to spend AGES in a single perspective but I could have the POVs I wanted.

    Perhaps yours could go something like this:

    Woman's POV: Going up to the mountain, feeling excited about the surprise, etc
    Man's POV: Observing her reaction to the dawn, can be a very short scene to really give it emphasis as it's a turning point in their relationship [I suspect this could actually be more effective from his perspective than having her describe the scene, and her wonder, to the reader]
    Woman's POV: Sex scene
    Man's POV: Next chapter
     
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  6. KevinMcCormack
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    KevinMcCormack Member

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    I have a related question for a beginner looking for examples... my google-fu has been failing me on this one...

    Are there any examples of works with primarily 3rd person limited, interspersed with 1st person limited? Such as a narrator or character interrupting a story to offer exposition or insight into their thoughts that we didn't get through the 3rd person limited?

    2nd question: I'm assuming this would be executed with a new chapter or footnotes - but are there other ways this can be accomplished?
     
  7. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I know this isn't what you asked, but there's nothing that can't be delivered in a 3rd person limited POV. Include all the thoughts and introspection you want, just don't use "I". For example:

    1st person: I had hated John since the moment I set eyes on him. His cold stare had a way of making me feel like an ant about to be torched with a magnifying glass.

    3rd person: Jane had hated John since the moment she set eyes on him. His cold stare had a way of making her feel like an ant about to be torched with a magnifying glass.

    You don't lose any character voice, and the reader gets exactly the same information and impression. Personally, I would need a better reason than adding introspection to mix up POVs.

    Mixing 3rd and 1st has been done, though I can't think of examples off the top of my head. I certainly wouldn't use footnotes in a fiction book but there are a thousand ways you could present the 1st person passages. One of the most common is diary entries. The important thing is to make it clear at all times whose voice is speaking.
     
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  8. KevinMcCormack
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    KevinMcCormack Member

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    I appreciate that, but I'm considering doing it as a sort of style. The 1st person would be breaking the fourth wall to speak directly to the reader, interrupting the story. I'm thinking of Pratchett's footnotes ("Said log, by the way, was one of five dozen that were abandoned in that meadow 50 years ago after the Great Caber Toss Elbow Epidemic."), but with the speaker being a character rather than the author.

    We see it work in film/theatre (it's a fun feature of detective film genre), but I couldn't locate any good examples in prose.
     
  9. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think there's a reason for that. :) I mean, it can work (anything can work if it's done right) but it's much easier to do it in a way that doesn't work.
     
  10. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've played with this a couple of times in short stories - usually just by treating it as a POV change, and switching when I changed scene. The first time is actually an ancient piece in the workshop, though the only first-person part is a single paragraph some way down. The one I'm writing at the moment uses it, and I think it works - but since it's not quite done I haven't given it to anyone to read yet, so I could be wrong. In this one, I established with the first scene that there was an 'I' who was telling the story, so in theory the reader isn't too surprised when the fourth wall gets broken.

    There's another that flips to first person when the characters meet the narrator - though again, the narrator is made clear to be a character from the start, and there's some I dotted throughout, so I guess that's more like omniscient-first.

    Anyhow, you're welcome to have a look at any of it if you like to see how I've tried it and if you think it works - PM me if you want a copy.
     
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  11. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    My collaborated novel is the same actually - alternated his/her POV. We had one character each. There was one occasion when my character's reaction to realising the girl actually does love him and to seeing his first ever sunrise was needed, but my co-author really wanted to have her character give her POV instead - so I simply had my POV chapter as 1-2 paragraphs long, show his reaction, and then switched back to my co-author's.

    As for the dilemma of perhaps mixing POVs halfway through - I'd advise against it 'cause it'd cause confusion. If you really want to do it, I'd seriously question why, and if that's the only way or even the best way to achieve what you want to achieve.

    There's nothing wrong with going against convention, but you need to know what you're doing or else it just messes everything up. I once decided on a whim that I'd like my novel to be in 3rd person, except when there's my MC present, when it'd be in first person from his POV. I'd never done it before, never seen it done, wasn't that experienced, and frankly had no good reason for it other than that it seems fun. And yes, it was a disaster.
     
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