1. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Changing points of view in third person

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Shadow Dragon, Sep 3, 2008.

    The first novel of my fantasy series has three main characters (Ares, Xare, and Ash, to learn more about them, just check out my blog). I'm still unsure about how to change up the pov between them during the story.I have two different ideas about how to do it:

    1. Just switch back and forth, while keeping it in chronological order or,

    2. Switch at the beginning of each chapter.

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Could you do both? When you switch the POV, start a new chapter and keep it chronological. This is my recommendation because it's the easiest for the reader to understand and relatively easy for the author.

    Something else to try to change POVs but not be in chronological order. For example, first do Ares POV at time B and then do Ash at time A next where time A happened before time B. This is interesting but really hard to pull off and kind of hard for the reader if not done properly (think Faulkner).

    The last thing I have in mind is to do different POVs for the same time period. For chapter 1, you have Ash describing something and then in chapter 2 you have Xare describing something in the same time period. This is interesting because it shows that two characters notice different things even though the time frame is the same. This gives the reader more information because of the multiple POVs.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'd recommend sticking with the same POV within a scene at minimum. Better yet, don't switch except at major breaks - sections or chapters. Not necessarily at EVERY chapter change, but chapters are a good place to switch.

    At the very least, keep the same POV within a paragraph. But unless you are VERY adept at transitions, you are likely to leave your reader disoriented if you switch that often.

    Whether or not to stay strictly chronological is an entirely separate decision. In some cases, you may want to backtrack and cover the same time period from a different perspective. Ordinarily I would not repeat the same scene from another POV, though.

    It can occasionally be effective though, if different characters have drastically differnt perceptions of that scene. One fine example is from the 7th season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in an episode titled "Same Time, Same Place". Due to an accidental spell, Willow couldn'y see any of her friends, nor could they see her. One scene in particular took place in a cellar where Spike was hiding out, half out of his mind. He could see all of them, but we sw the scene first from Willow's POV, and once from Buffy's. Spike's dialogue tied it all together, and although it sounded random and insane, it all made sense when you know everyone is there at the same time.

    However, the times that you will have use for that kind of scene manipulation will be extremely rare, and repeating the scene from two points of view will mor often make your readers restless.
     
  4. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, when they get together, it will be easier, but for most of the first novel, they lead different lives and are rarely in the same area.
     
  5. alvin123
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    alvin123 Senior Member

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    I hope someone answers you, because this is the question I've wanted someone to answer for me. I have two main characters in my fantasy series, but they don''t always be together either.
     

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