1. Furbs
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    Furbs New Member

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    Style Help needed with scene changes and view points

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Furbs, Jan 16, 2016.

    Hello,

    I have been writing my first YA novel since March last year and my first draft is finally complete. Hurrah! I'm now going through the tricky process of editing down my extremely long 120,000 word novel (split into 50+ chapters) to get rid of all the rubbish.

    So now I'm back at chapter 1, and have already managed to cut it down by one third because of all the unnecessary word dumps I've left in there. Whilst I plan to have my chapters consistent in length (around 2000 / 25000 words each), I've realised the first two or three chapters start out as one long scene, and then as the book goes on and there's more action, the chapters begin to split into smaller scenes (some with four or five scenes in them). The final chapter is one long scene again.

    After doing quite a lot of research into it, I know that scenes can be whatever length they need to be. But my main issue is that because I have quite a lot of characters, I have selected the main few and have written each scene from a different one of their perspectives. I wanted to give it a soap style feel. It almost feels like aside from the first couple of chapters, and the last chapter, the rest are split up into mini chapters, switching from character to character per scene.

    The protagonist has the majority of the scenes (usually at least one in each chapter) with the antagonist having the second highest number. And then there are five other characters the scenes focus on. The number of scenes varying depending on their importance.

    Because I've gone for a 3rd person style, I'm not introducing scenes with character names. Instead I've made sure the beginning of each scene makes it obvious. For example:

    It was 07:00 on the dot. The Tower would be filling up very soon. The rest of his team were due to arrive any minute. Dom looked around the room to check the office still looked immaculate.

    I've read so much advice on this subject and I know that ultimately it depends on the novel itself. But I'm worried that as a very novice writer, this style of head hopping, combined with the inconsistency of scene length, might cause confusion to the reader. I'm not sure if I should stick to one scene per chapter so that readers feel more connected with the characters? Or do I leave it as it is, to get as much action in as possible? Or should I be splitting up the first couple of chapters as well as the rest, to make it more consistent? Even though advice I've read says you shouldn't head hop unless it's crucial to the story. Or maybe I'm just totally out of my depth with the style I've chosen!

    Any advice on this subject would be hugely appreciated!

    Thanks :)
     
  2. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not going to attempt to answer all your questions, but here are a few observations...

    1) In your example, move the last sentence to the beginning. Always orient your reader to the POV character in the first sentence. (And if you test-read that passage with the sentences rearranged as I suggest, you should see that it draws the reader into the POV faster without spoiling your setting of the scene.)

    (a small note on verb usage: 'were' should be 'was...' The rest of his team was due any minute. The verb's subject is 'rest' which is singular.)

    2) Scenes and chapters don't (and maybe shouldn't) be the same things. End chapters with action that compels the reader to turn the page, a point where a question comes up (What's going to happen next for our intrepid hero? What's behind that door? Who's hiding in that bin?)

    3) Usually, chapters in third-person multi-POV stories are split up so they follow a rhythm, first character A, then character B, then character C, etc. But there are no hard-n-fast rules. You could have one chapter with three character POVs, the next with three other character POVs. Or you could alternate between three and drop in a fourth character POV in each chapter that's like a wild card, drawn from the pack of of POVs.

    But as I said, there are no real rules. Just make it as predictable as possible for your reader and orient them in the first sentence and you should be fine.

    A point of clarification: You said your chapters would be 2,000 to 25,000 words. Did you mean 20,000 to 25,000 or 2,000 to 2,500? Looking at your chapter count, I would assume the latter, but just to be sure... :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2016
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  3. Furbs
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    Furbs New Member

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    Thank you Sack-a-Doo

    I have switched the sentences around from that paragraph as you mentioned and I agree, it sounds much better so thank you :) Would the same apply to my first chapter as well? Or would it be okay to keep it slightly more vague?

    From the roof of the offices at night, the city glowed. With the parties in full swing, the faint sound of music and laughter could be heard in the air.
    It was easy to see why the rest of the world was so mesmerized by this place. Each colourful street connecting with another, forming a giant luminous map. It was still enough to take Leila's breath away, even after all this time.


    This is probably my lack of understanding on the subject, but I have tried switching 'were' for 'was' and it doesn't seem to read correctly. Wouldn't 'rest of his team' be a plural, as it's discussing a group of people? If it were 'the boss of his team' then I think you'd be right. But I'm talking about the arrival of more than one person? As I've said, probably me not knowing enough about the subject!

    Really helpful about the multi POV rhythms so again, thank you! It's great to know that there are no firm rules on the subject though and I'm not going crazy. I pretty much alternate between three of the main characters, and then add the other couple in every now and then.

    And yep my chapters are around 2,500 words (apologies for that typo). Bit of a difference there!

    Thanks again!
     
  4. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    If that passage was your chapter-one opening, yes. You did try it before asking, right? :)

    This is English 101 stuff. The subject is 'rest,' singular. "The rest of his team' is a subject phrase, still singular. It's not a matter of opinion, it's the way English works.

    If you had said, 'his teams were,' then that's plural.

    Also, 'If the rest of his team were' would be correct because it's subjunctive... and I just realized this is likely the source of your confusion.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2016

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