1. Smithy
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    Smithy Senior Member

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    Character in the narrative

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Smithy, Aug 26, 2009.

    I find that I'm increasingly letting the POV character (in 3rd person limited) affect the descriptive prose and I'm wondering if this is such a good idea or not.

    To elaborate, what I mean is that the prose is increasingly coming to resemble the POV character's 'voice' even when it isn't strictly dialogue or internal monologue. So the description is tainted by the character's opinions, the language is his language, and so on and so forth.

    What this also means is that when the POV switches the style changes as well.

    I was just wondering if this was advisable or whether I should stamp on it quickly.
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    In 1st person, its a must, but in 3rd, not so much. Really its a matter of preference. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, for instance, is in 3rd person and is very much narrated "in character", although we know who that character is and he is not always the narrated character (the subject of the narrative's focus). If it adds to the story, its fine. If it works for you, its fine. But its not inherently good or bad - its just another way of doing things.

    (That said, if you're narrating in voice and changing voices often, it may be a little jarring...but thats just me)
     
  3. JoenSo
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    JoenSo Member

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    I agree with arron89 that both ways work. Personally I like this kind of narrative since it can hide how things really are when a situation is viewed through a characters prejudice, feelings, misinterpretation etc etc. If there's multiple POVs, the reader might realize through another characters POV that things were not quite what they seemed. A matter of preference as Arron said.
     
  4. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    With 3rd person limited, I believe the prose is supposed to resemble the POV character's voice. (As opposed to 3rd person omniscient, where it should not.)

    I actually need to do some revision to one of the chapters of my book because I failed to do this. My POV character was a little boy, about 8 years old, but my narration was written like an adult, with words the boy wouldn't have understood. This gave the misleading impression that the POV character was older than he really was.

    I'd say, if your prose sounds like your POV character's voice, this is a good thing.

    I see limited third-person as being through the POV character's eyes. That also means, in his or her mind and head. If the POV character can't see it (feel it, think it) then the limited third-person narrator shouldn't either. This includes using the words and language the POV character would understand, and the narration having the same bias and opinions of the POV character.

    I do have to wonder to what extent that goes, however. I don't think I'd want to extend it to grammatical errors. I can't imagine a third-person narrator, even in limited view, saying, "Shucks, they's all could see that that thar lady done looked mah'ty fahn."

    Charlie
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you are using a single third person POV throughout your story, you can either do your narration in a neutral voice or in your character's voice (character-driven narration). Either way works quite well.

    If you are switching among different POVs in the course of yoru story, character-driven narration can help the reader follow the POV better. Even with a single third person POV, character-driven narration carries more of te feeling of first person POV, but without the drawbacks associated with a first person POV.

    Character-driven narration is a bit more difficult for the writer, because you have to continually think like the character, not like the author observing the scene, but if you can carry it off smoothly, I'd say go with the flow.
     
  6. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I prefer character driven POVs.

    If this is happening naturally, you should take advantage of it.
     
  7. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I see the tone change in subtle ways in the narrative depending on the character in the chapter all the time. If you can do it effectively, why not?
     
  8. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    I really enjoy third-person narrative that takes on the opinions of the main character.
    It is a way to delve into the character's mind, and can be used to quite comedic or emotional effect.
     

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