1. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Having a bit of a problem with writing 3 characters all in first person

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Cave Troll, Aug 8, 2015.

    Been working on my first novel. It is Sci-fi and has been of a challenge as I have written it as a linear story with out chapters focusing on the first person perspective of three characters. First off, I would like to know if this is going to make reading the story confusing, and what can I do to make it less so? Secondly, I was told that writing from familiarity was common in first time writers, is this true? Thanks
     
  2. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    You are going to have to have well written straight forward segways or it will be pretty difficult for the reader to understand who is talking using just first person pronouns.

    I see your avatar is really small. If you go to photobucket.com you can resize the avatar to make it look better.
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can do this, but I think that it would be worthwhile to have a long look at works that use close third person limited. You can get just as close to the character's thoughts and feelings (IMO, at least) and it's a lot easier to handle shifting points of view.
     
  4. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    If you get a chance read "Dreamcatcher." It deals with using different voices for characters in different places and dealing with different circumstances.
     
  5. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    As much as I would like to read "Dreamcatcher", I find King to be terribly boring. Much rather read the abridged version of "The Count of Monte Cristo" again as it was not boring. If you have any further suggestions on what to read that would be great.
     
  6. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Wasn't "Cloud Atlas" a book before a movie? Check that one out.
     
  7. John Calligan
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    John Calligan Member

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    That's a tough one! If you figure it out, let me know.

    Do you think it would be cheap to separate each change of view with a ... and either write their name at the top or write each character in order so that the cycle becomes routine?
     
  8. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I have left a gap between each so as to keep them separated. So far using a different vocabulary to individualize each so that they don't sound the same when each is telling their part.
     
  9. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    From very foggy, distant memory, The Number of the Beast by Heinlein was written in first person, taking it in turns with each of the four characters.
     
  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    The biggest challenge in having more than one POV character written in first person is to differentiate their "voices". That is, Character A's narrative must be voiced in the same manner as his/her dialogue. And that has to be distinguishable from B, and both from C. Michener did this for four characters in The Novel, but since each character had a specific orientation in the writing/publishing world - writer, editor, agent and critic - the voicing was easier. Elizabeth Kostova did it less well in The Swan Thieves, where three different characters - one man, two women - were very hard to tell apart.

    I would also suggest that you use chapter breaks to move from one to the other, and identify the POV character in each title. That way, the reader doesn't have to parse the opening narrative to figure out who is "speaking".

    It can be done, but you might be making your task harder by doing so. I have to go with @ChickenFreak on this one - you may want to consider 3rd limited instead.

    Good luck with it no matter what you decide.
     
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  11. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I like the suggestion, but some of the chapters would be like 6-7 lines long. Maybe if I font, change? Have a human male, alien male, and alien female. Though to be more specific, only two have names and the other just kind of has a title. Sort of saving a name for the end on the last one. I should like to look into the reference material when I get some extra scratch together to see what you're talking about. Much appreciated, sir.
     
  12. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Considering this is your first novel, I shall assume you're a fairly new/inexperienced writer. For that reason, while of course you can do anything you so desire in writing, since it's your book, I'd advise you to use regular chapters and simply write the character's name as the chapter heading.

    A good question to ask yourself is this: Is there really a good reason why you don't want to identify your characters by name at the beginning of each POV change? Also, is there a good reason why you're not using chapters?

    You don't have to do either. However, it is the norm to have chapters, and norm to name POV characters where everything's written in first person - there's a good reason for these norms. Yes, rules are there to be broken, but there should always be a very good reason for breaking them. This is doubly so when you're new and don't really know what you're doing.

    Gain some experience first, and then break the rules to your heart's content. For a first novel, it is often best to follow conventions. It's enough learning how to write a regular novel for the first time without also having to worry about how to break rules and make them work.

    To make your characters instantly recognisable without their names at each POV shift, your writing will need to be absolutely excellent and extremely distinctive.

    Considering it's your first novel, seriously - just name the POV changes.
     
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  13. Jack13star
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    Jack13star Member

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    I agree with my fellow posters on this one, you may have to expand your chapters to accommodate each POV, or have your characters so solid, that the characters thought process and body language would be easily recognizable from one paragraph to the other. It is TOTALLY POSSIBLE! But, it might be easier to change POV from chapter to chapter. The first thing I thought of was to put the name as the heading as Mckk suggested.

    There was an exercise that I did once, where you take your favorite scene in your book and re-write it in the POV of everyone in the room (or wherever), secondary, even third characters from the side lines. After, I enjoyed one side character so much I changed the POV in the actual manuscript to include him more. I guess my point is, write however feels natural, there are still many edits and changes to go. It will all smooth out in the end :D
     
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  14. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Well it is a complicated matter. 2 characters have names, and one does not. More or less a title that changes in time. As for chapters it would be far to complicated to break it up as such. There are times when 2 or all 3 are in a close proximity sharing their own unique perspectives. Sometimes it is broken down to focus on two different, but equally important issues taking place. Sometimes it is used to just add a break, and therefore adding tension to what another is going through. Occasionally their on opposite sides of a scenario that tells either side (inside a building versus the outside simultaneously) as an example.
     
  15. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I suppose the simplest way for one to understand is to get a sampling of what I have (a fairly sizable chunk) as it alternates as need be between characters. I have debated on tweeking the first part a bit as it goes from first to third person (two different characters), but I think I may leave it as there is a space in time gapping on to the next character. I think having a sampling examined may be the best way for you to understand what I mean as far as linear. I know I am a noob, or green to all of this, but it would be helpful if I shared a bit so it could be more understood and refined. I would be more than happy to privately share a bit of it with you if you are interested in seeing what I am up too, as well as telling me what I can do to make it less chaotic. Thanks.
     
  16. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Since I created stir of mixed thoughts. Perhaps if you like I can share what I have so far so you can review it if you like. The beginning is a bit rough (though the whole thing is rough) it would be the best way for you to understand how I put this mess together in the first place. Shoot me an email and I will send you what I have so far. Seems fair enough considering.
     
  17. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Encourage you to check out the beginners guide.
     
  18. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Last edited: Aug 9, 2015
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  19. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Unfortunately, I think that this qualifies as a Review Room submission. There are requirements for using the Review Room that you may not yet have fulfilled. (A certain number of days, a certain number of posts, and a certain number of reviews of other people's submissions.)

    However, I am a little confused, because it appears that you have a section in first person and then another in third person, rather than two different first person POVs.
     
  20. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Whether you're writing chapters (1st person) or sections of chapters (3rd person), six or seven lines is not nearly enough to build a scene. If you go back to some of your favorite published works, you can see how they build scenes in their writing.
     
  21. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I know. Wasn't sure how I was going about things as far as telling the story at the beginning. Though I think I decided shortly after. Though I have 116,759 words at the present written, so it seems a waste to revamp the whole thing so drastically. Then again I don't know. I have let a friend or two read it when it was about the sample size I submitted so I could show how I was writing it and they seemed to like the snippet over all. Again not sure what to do besides a few things like adding a bit of backstory to a much later part and a massive dose of editing.
     

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