1. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    different POV's

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tesoro, Jan 21, 2011.

    When i started to write on the first draft on the novel im currently working on i chose to write the story from the perspctive of three people, all connected to each other, but for one of them (the ultimate MC) it came naturally to write it in first person while the other two are in third person.
    Now to my question:
    1. Can you do that?
    Or am I breaking some fundamental rule of writing here? i stayd within the same POV for each chapter so i definitely didnt mix pov's during a scene, but would that still be a problem? I have tried to rewrite everything in third person, but it doesnt get the same feeling about that person, i lose the feeling for her when i do, while th other ones are perfect for third person. its just that without the MC in first person POV her story became really impersonal.
    2. Would it be disturbing you if it happened in a book you were reading?
     
  2. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Can you do it? I believe you just did.

    It's not a problem unless you do it poorly, or other aspects of the manuscript are poor so a reader starts trying to find things to dislike.

    The thing that I'm curious about is the importance of the other perspectives. I don't mind if they're in third person, and a main character in first, but it would bother me if they seemed second-class characters. As a reader, if you're giving me a characters pov, it should be just as important with just as much attention as any other, even if they aren't a 'main' character.

    I think the reason I'm dubious that this is happening is that if you lose all feeling and connection with a main character by switching from first to third person, it's usually a sign something greater isn't working. Maybe it's that you aren't as comfortable writing in third person as first, or that you believe first person should be 'in' the character and third person removed. I'm not sure, but were I your agent or editor, we'd have to have a long talk.

    The concern is that third person pov character will be lacking. Not because they're in third person, but perhaps because of the reasons I wondered about before. If the execution of your third person is weak, and you're more comfortable writing in first, I'd say write them all in first person (or work on third person). A lot of people will relegate their secondary characters to the pov they're not as comfortable with, whether it's first to third or third limited to third omni, etc. I think this is a mistake, as then you have secondary characters who aren't written as well and become a burden on the story.

    Is third person pov perfect for secondary characters because you don't care about building a close, personal (read as empathetic) bond? Imo, that's a mistake. If a character is worth having sections of the manuscript in their pov, they're worth doing it in full. A lot of people do this unconsciously, where their main character (read as: favorite) is given a lot of attention, but secondary characters resort to a distant, impersonal 'reported' sort of narration. This is usually bad, and makes for a weak draft overall. Nothing should be lost if you build empathy for secondary characters, through their pov.

    I guess my advice is to not worry about the pov employed, but how you're employing it. I can assure you it's possible to deliver an third person pov that feels close, personal, engaging, empathetic, etc. But if you're losing that for your main character, then where is that leaving your secondary characters?

    And I know I differ from others when it comes to my opinions on pov. I believe the only real differences are in the approach, attitude and abilities of the writer and expectations and perceptions of a reader, whereas others believe the actual pov employed changes things in the writing on the page. Either way, it's important to understand how one performs with different povs, and to either simply not write using techniques they're weak in, or of course improve where they're weak.

    To me there seems to be a disconnect, though, if third person isn't working for your main (favorite?) character, but is perfect for other characters. My guess is the other characters are getting short changed, and their pov needs to either be improved, or you really don't feel they're worthy of their own pov and have secondary character's with their own pov not because you think their perspective is valued in the story, but because of other reasons (often ends up being a 'need' to deliver information). Either way, even if they're 'just' secondary characters, if you give them voice, that voice needs to be strong and sure.

    Of course, all just guesses and assumptions based on experiences. Without actually seeing the text and going through your process with you, there's no way to know for sure, but this is all what I suspect and what concerns me.

    But no, that sort of change in pov wouldn't disturb me. What disturbs me is when a writer gives a character a pov, and I quickly realize they consider the character secondary, and not as much care and attention has been put into those sections. It often becomes throwaway text, which as a reader I don't want to bother with.
     
  3. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    thank you for a long & interesting answer.
    I have to tell you another thing here, and that is that third person works beautifully for the two other characters, i think in terms of quality of the writing i think it might be even better that the first person POV, thats why i wanted to try and put that one in third too, which didnt work as well. And I cant understand WHY! the only way of getting the same quality of the MC is writing it in first person.
    I definately dont consider them secondary, their pov is crucial to the story, its just that to get the differences between characters and not writing everything as if it was just one person telling it (im talking about each characters own voice and way of expressing themselves, vocabulary, tones, etc) they work best in third and the other one in first. But they are equally important to the story, i said "MC" because the story is mostly about the life of that person and the people close to her. Of course they still have a story even without her. but this is about the point where they meet, how they interact and what that leads to.
    Thinking of that, i just had an example coming to my mind (ok, maybe not the best as its about tv/movie rather that a book) ; Sex and the city :D (so sue me!) Everything is told from Carries POV and she talks about the others in third person while she is always "I". ok, this isnt the same thing, (since in this case my MC isnt telling the other ones stories) but its just an example of how "secondary" characters can be equally important even though they are described in a less personal POV, because if it wasnt for them there wouldnt be a story at all.
    OMG, I hope this makes sense, lol. Thank you, for making me reflect further on this. I will keep thinking about what you said! :)
     
  4. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually you got me thinking of the possibility to write all three POV's in first person! Never thought of that. that would really be interesting. this was just my spontaneous approach to it (when starting it) but this might be an even better one!
     

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