1. Nervous1st
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    Nervous1st Senior Member

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    Character perspective

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Nervous1st, Jul 11, 2010.

    Hi everyone,

    I know this has been widely discussed here on these forums, but I’ve hit a wall. Firstly, I’m inspired by my favourite author Jodi Picoult and for those of you don’t know her, she’s well known for writing in first person from different characters perspective through the novel. Sometimes, she writes first person from the main character and then has chapters of third person throughout. Each character is telling the one story from their perspective then they themselves have their own story.

    It suits my novel to be written in first person because it’s a personal journey/reflection story and I’m happy with how it’s coming along. But some parts need to be written from another perspective. I would like to write from different characters in first person but I understand this isn’t advised.
    The point is, should I be thinking of changing to third person or should I attempt the different perspectives.

    I don’t know what to do, I feel disconnected from the character in third person, I know this sounds novice but even reading the best authors, I love first person. I couldn’t imagine Jodi’s best novels written in third person, it just wouldn’t be the same.

    What do you think?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    First person should ordinarily be reserved for a main character who the POV stays with for the entire novel. I strongly discourage switching to other first person perspectives, because the transitions HAVE to be obvious to dislodge the reader from one head an plant the reader in another head at every POV jump.

    The transition can be much less harring in third person.

    If you must switch between one first POV and one or more third POVs, do it at chapter boundaries. For examples on how you might do this, look at Sue Grafton's S is for Silence and U is for Undertow.

    For an example of poorly managed changes between multiple first and third person POVs, read Lisa Gardner's The Neighbor.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    good advice!... i suggest you take it...
     
  4. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Ditto. My latest project I'm writing from multiple characters' POVs but all in third person. I always switch at the end of a chapter and it goes a lot smoother that way. The thing I don't like about the idea of switching between first person POVs from character to character is exactly what was mentioned above. You have to get the reader out of one character's head and into another when they are already very deeply into that character's head. I'm sure it can be done but take the above advice on it please.
     
  5. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    You say that like it's difficult...or more difficult in first than in third. The exact same techniques can be used in both...in fact, a good writer could do it much more successfully in first person by using well-defined and differentiated voices, while the narration in third person would be the one rigid authorial voice.

    I dislike swapping point of view in first or third, and if you are going to do it, doing it in third person omniscient is by far the easiest way (going in and out of characters while remaining in the third person voice), but it can and has been done well in both first and third.
     
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  6. Jack Kaiser
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    Jack Kaiser New Member

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    If you switched a point of view per a chapter, then couldn't you state whose point of view the chapter is centered on?
     
  7. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    The key phrase is Good Writer. I don't think Cogito is trying to say it can't be done or has the potential to be great. But rather that its far more difficult to pull off for a more inexperienced writer. Its easier to work within the Third Person Limited because it provides the writer with more leg room. It provides an easier transistion between points of view.

    Of course I may have gotten this wrong.
     
  8. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Bret Easton Ellis (I swear he's been in every post I've made today...but he really is THAT good) does it extremely successfully by doing nothing more than beginning his chapters with the narrating character's name. It isn't technically or conceptually difficult, and it's no more difficult in first person than it is in third person with changing limited viewpoints.
     
  9. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have you seen the TV serie "Dead like me"? Where the main characters voice narrates from a unlimited perspective as what is happening unrolls on screen. A lot of other tv-series use this technique time to time.

    First person unlimited is also an option, hard to do, rare but possible.
     
  10. Nervous1st
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    Nervous1st Senior Member

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    Thank you everyone, I appreciate your replies.

    yes, I would use the characters name at the beginning of the chapter. I'm not talking about a different character at every chapter, only three characters throughout the entire novel

    I was more concerned that this style is like present tense or second person narrative where you seriously destroy any chance at all of getting published. I know the chances are next to none as they are but still, I want to have something to work toward and I don’t want to make it any harder.

    I'm off to the library today, so i'll be sure to pick up those suggestions. Thanks.
     
  11. Jobeykobra
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    Jobeykobra Member

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    The specific book he is referring to is The Rules of Attraction, by the way.

    I think switching between POVs can be easy if, as stated before, the voice is changed in first person perspective to differentiate between them. In third person it's easiest, I'd say, but I would never suggest switching between multiple perspectives and switching between them. Characters' perspectives can be easily changed, if you can make it clear to the reader it's different. Switching to different POV's, however, can be very tricky.
     
  12. Jobeykobra
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    Jobeykobra Member

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    Most ironic post I've seen in a long time.
     
  13. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have seen Twilight Hater Adbots and I have seen Fanatical Religious Adbots. But I don't think I have seen a self hating adbot o_O
     

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