1. cobaltblue
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    cobaltblue Member

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    Character name or relationship to MC

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by cobaltblue, May 22, 2013.

    I'm currently working on something which is past tense and close third person POV - my MC is a teen girl and some scenes are with her family (mom, dad and siblings).
    Now, with siblings I can just tag them with their name and that's fine, when my MC is dealing directly with her parents she refers to them as Mom and Dad - and when talking to others about her parents, they are 'My mom' and 'My dad' - that's all fine.
    The problem I'm having is that the scene where we meet the MC's parents and I'm detailing what they are doing, I've written their actual names. A friend pointed out to me that I need to change the parents names in every instance to be 'Mom' and 'Dad' because the story is from MC's POV - but it's not first person and if I go through and change all the John and Jane to Dad and Mom it feels wrong!

    Is my friend right? Should the mom and dad always be Mom and Dad or can they sometimes be referred to by their first names? Does using their first names only work when there's a narrator?

    Am I even asking an answerable question? Can someone just stand behind me while I type and whisper all the changes I need to make? The more I look for what needs fixing the more I confuse myself!! I swear I start of with rules to apply to my writing and I end up questioning that I'm even writing in English.
     
  2. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Yes, your friend is right, otherwise you are letting the writer's voice come in the way of close third person POV's voice which is in a way POV slip. Close third is almost like first person writing, you have to stay in the viewpoint char's mind and senses.
     
  3. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    The best way to deal with that, I find, is to refer to them as (say your protagonists's name is Jane) "Jane's mom" and Jane's dad" until you offer a bit of personal info about them, either through the dialogue or action. Then they become characterised, and you need to judge at which point, you can start referring to them by their names. Also continuing to characterise them through little details, perhaps give them a purpose within the story, as well as incorporating previously revealed information into their description. This can be achieved in just a few words here and there, but it will make the background alive. Or you can refer to them as Jane's mom" etc the entire novel, which to me always feels a bit flat.
     
  4. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Yes use mom & dad when referring to them in the narrative and your MC's voice, but have them call each other by their names or pet names for one another. But only use "my mom & dad" when your MC is speaking. While it is true that when writing in Deep POV (Close POV) you want to stay within the MC's viewpoint, you still need to keep the narrative voice and the MC's voice distinct enough to make it obvious when the MC is speaking. So you want to look for simple ways like that to show the difference.
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree it should be "Mom" and "Dad" if it's from the child MC's POV, even if it's written in 3rd person. If you want their names to come out for some reason, someone could say their name in dialogue. A third person (could be anyone -- a neighbor, friend, or even the MC's grandmother or grandfather) could say, "John, I'm so glad you're here!" or the MC could overhear a discussion or fight between the parents, Sarah heard her Dad say, "Jane, you always do this!"
     
  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Have it been doing this wrong all my life, or is there very little difference between third person limited and deep POV? I just googled what deep POV is supposed to be and it reads like... well, what I've been calling third person limited all my life. Yes it omits things like "he thought", "he saw" etc but surely when you write, you normally use a mixture, depending on the tone of the scene and what's appropriate?

    What I mean is - when I want the tone to be tensed and abrupt, I skip the "saw" and "felt" and "thought" etc (making it technically deep POV, it would seem) - and when I need things to be at a distance, like my character isn't comprehending something, I might now use "He watched her fade away" or some such. I don't see this as a POV "shift", even if people categorise them differently on a technical or academic level.

    Hmm, thoughts?

    As for the OP - if the scenes are taken from the narrator's POV, then the mum and dad should be referred to as Mum and Dad, yes.
     
  7. cobaltblue
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    cobaltblue Member

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    Thanks for all the replies, I've had conflicting advice on this to where my head was spinning. Love that there's a consensus here, thank you so much.

    Follow up question - is anyone writing close third POV that occasionally dips into another character's head? Not omniscient, not seeing every characters internal thoughts, but having an occasional (eg. one or two chapters devoted to) a second character's POV?
     
  8. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Switching between character POV between chapters is common enough, if that's what you mean. Just don't do it within the same scene. However, having only an "occasional" chapter in someone else's POV begs the question of: why? POV is a major thing that you need to choose wisely - if you let the reader into a character's head, and for a whole chapter, no less, then you need a very good reason for it, and you'll need to answer to the reader for when you stop taking things from this character's POV. If you allow for a second character's POV, readers expect this to be a significant character.

    So the question isn't whether it can be done - sure it can, it's your book - but the question should be, is it good to do it? Does your story require it?
     
  9. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have three POV characters in most of my novels. Each should have their own subplot, relevant to the overall plot. The MC should have approx. 70% of the scenes, the second POV about 20% and the third POV about 10%. That seems to be common enough in literature.
    One thing I can't stand though is having more than one POV in a chapter, and more than 1 POV per scene is definitely inadvisable.
     
  10. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    There was this horrendous book that I never finished called Broken Vows (by Cory Daniells) where the PoV character switched every few sentences in this one scene (I stopped reading after I hit this). It was this ridiculously childish "sexual tension" between a warlord and his captive, each proclaiming how much they hated the other and then how much they were attracted to each other. My skin crawls just thinking about it.

    Based on what research my tired brain could handle, it looks to me like "deep" and "close" third person are the same thing. They're both all but in the PoV character's head, where the reader gets to feel what the character feels. http://beckylevine.com/2011/06/10/point-of-view-close-third-person/

    There are countless books out there that "head-hop" while using deep/close third person. George R. R. Martin is the first one that jumps to mind and he's been incredibly successful. I, too, head-hop. I currently have four PoV characters but plan to add three (or more) more before the whole project's done. I use slightly different styles of writing for each of them but for all of them I refer to things as the PoV character would in their dialogue. For example, there are beast men, savages, whatever you'd like to call them. One character refers to them as savages, another as wildermen, others still as northmen (and yet more a yet undetermined term that will be what they call themselves).

    As others have said, though, be sure there's a purpose (other than just revealing information your main character doesn't have but you think the reader should have, which is an info dump and a poor plan) and I recommend head-hopping by chapter. I've personally never seen it successfully pulled off in smaller increments (scenes, paragraphs, etc.) but there could certainly be successful cases of this out there somewhere.
     

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