1. Wolvenmoon
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    Wolvenmoon New Member

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    Changing perspectives mid-story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Wolvenmoon, Jan 11, 2010.

    So I'm writing in first person perspective and want to switch to a narrative perspective mid-story....Gotcha. :D


    Here's what's really going on. Belen, my current first-person storyteller, is an ex-assassin. He is leading up to a revelation that is going to make him less of a dark, sarcastic, morbidly funny character to a much more reserved, restrained one.

    During this revelation Belen will be unconscious and on his own trip. In the meantime, Kiron, a second character, will be telling the story. Kiron is, without explaining his whole background, essentially a spy, scholar, and actor all rolled up into one job.


    How inappropriate would it be for me to bring Belen up to his epiphany and simply not switch back to his perspective after Kiron's stint is over?

    Sorry if this doesn't make sense. I'll clarify if needed!
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Probably a bad idea. You really should avoid first person as a narrative POV unless youy are sticking with it throughout. (First person isn't the best choice for a new writer anyway, but never mind that for now).

    First person is a rather entrenched and restrictive POV. Any transition out of it tends to be jarring to the reader. Even so, you can accomplish nearly the same mood with third person limited, but with more agility to slip out of the POV.

    If you do it from a third person POV, you can prepare the reader with earlier short excursions into your secondary POV. Share the stage earlier, and your readers won't feel like you jumped ship on them in mid-novel.

    Also consider dividing the novel into parts, with a different POV in adjacent parts. Don't make any of them first person, though. You want to minimize the impact of transitions on the reader.
     
  3. FragmentEarth
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    FragmentEarth New Member

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    Rules should be broken

    I change first person characters all the time
     
  4. Ecksvie
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    Ecksvie Member

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    If you do do it, make sure you make it obvious who is talking. I know it's not the best example of writing, but there's a chapter in one of the Twilight books where the perspective changes from Bella to Jacob. I was about halfway through the chapter before I realised who was talking and stopped thinking "What the hell is going on?"
     
  5. Lolly_pop
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    Lolly_pop New Member

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    Stephanine Meyer did it in Breaking Dawn and I also read a book called come together (a summer romance read) that kept switching perspectives in my opinion it made the story better. I say go for it.
     
  6. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    not necessarily

    I just finished a sci-fi novel like that called "Bitter Angels" by CL Anderson. The story plot-line was good and enticing; however, the constant first person shifting of characters each Chapter (with each one denoted to tell you who's POV is in view) got to be both tiring and annoying.

    I mentioned this book Saturday to a local author here who was having a book signing at a local B&N...even he said that was WRONG and agreed with me over it.

    Stick with one POV if in first person or use third person so you can change.

    now I'm stepping off my soapbox
     
  7. Wolvenmoon
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    Wolvenmoon New Member

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    My other thought was to transfer to a third person perspective when not working with my first person character, or to simply switch to third person entirely.

    Switching to a more encompassing perspective that allows for me to switch characters and still show their internal dialogue ( and their internal reactions are important in this story ) might make it clumsy for me to withhold information from the reader. One group of characters knows where they're going, why they're there, et cetera. The other group is clueless.

    Belen, the protagonist and first person story teller, is going to be knocked completely unconscious ( and appear dead ). By the time he is Kiron will have snuck off away from the rest of the group with a stolen key. Through him I want to reveal some major information about the story.

    I think that telling it limited subjective third person while Belen is out might be the best choice. Depending on how it works I might go back and revise the story to be a limited subjective third person perspective. ( WHEW, say that five times fast. )
     
  8. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think one thing to consider is why one selects first person POV to begin with. It has its advantages and disadvantages. Switching out of it because you've written yourself into a dead end, or where the story would be better handed off in parts to another character for a while and then revert, or any combination, while can be successfully done, it is much harder to accomplish without jarring the reader, and ultimately weakening the story.

    Yes, published examples where first person switching to other characters or even other POVs can be pointed out. But how many more do not do such a thing? And how many of the authors who do switch POVs (first to third and back, for example) are successful authors already and are given more latitude in what they write and have accepted for publication?

    If it works, that's great. If it is being used a patch to get through a troublesome section of the story, that's maybe not so great.

    In the end, unless a member here was to read the entire manuscript in context could give you really solid information, other than general preferences and suggestions--which is what I just did. And even if they did read it all, it'd be their opinion--which points out the limitation.

    Unless you're self-publishing, consider your first audience (agents and/or editors). Where do you hope to submit? What have they represented/published that would be similar to what is being proposed? If they have, it is quite possible they'd be much more open to such a device being used. Yes, the ultimate audience is the reader, but in theory the agent knows editors that would be interested in what type of works. And the editors select works that generally fit their established readership (or have a market/readership in mind).

    Okay, enough rambling. Hope some of it made sense and helped you a bit with the dilemma.

    Good luck as you move forward.

    Terry
     
  9. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Let's see, books I've read in the last year have all switched povs in the first person, Time Traveler's wife, switches between Henry and Claire, Twilight as a switch in Breaking Dawn, and the current book I'm reading Patient Zero has a switch between first person of the MC hero, and third person of the Enemies, Dirty Girls Social Club switches between five different first person POVs, as does, Playing with Boys by the same author.

    I've read plenty of books that switch pov in first person, either to other first person povs or to third person povs, but it is carried out throughout the book, not just once mid way through never returning to the first character's pov. I don't think it works any other way.
     

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