1. Chinspinner
    Offline

    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    Messages:
    1,918
    Likes Received:
    1,018
    Location:
    London, now Auckland

    How do you get your POV character to see things they shouldn't see?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Chinspinner, Jan 31, 2015.

    I wasn't quite sure how to word this question as can be seen by the garbled title.

    I am writing in close third person. There are certain conversations between other characters which they would not necessarily be party to, but are important to the plot.

    I don't particularly want my main character to be hiding in the room while these happen (or watch on a security feed) because this just strikes me as a bit of a crap solution.

    I also don't want this character to be the type that is just ignored by everyone, like a fly on the wall at every important event, with other character's having inappropriate conversations in front of them.

    Any ideas?
     
  2. Void
    Offline

    Void Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2014
    Messages:
    303
    Likes Received:
    229
    Without having them either eavesdrop or hear this information in later conversations, the only other solution I can come up with would be to present these conversations from a different PoV character. But I know this might not work for all stories.

    Is it vital that the reader knows this information?
    Is it vital that the protagonist knows this information?

    If yes to both, then you need some way for them to either listen in or infer it later.
    If yes to A but not to B, then a different PoV might be a better option, but that depends ...
    Have you considered that the answer might actually be no to both?
     
    Chinspinner likes this.
  3. Steerpike
    Online

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,122
    Likes Received:
    5,321
    Location:
    California, US
    Yeah if the conversation needs to be shown but there's no way to do it with the main character present, just use a different POV character for it.
     
    Chinspinner likes this.
  4. Jack Asher
    Offline

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    3,571
    Likes Received:
    2,054
    Location:
    Denver
    You're writing science fiction, why not just have your main character intercept a chat log?
     
    Morritzikov and Chinspinner like this.
  5. RachHP
    Offline

    RachHP Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2015
    Messages:
    262
    Likes Received:
    158
    Location:
    England
    Is there a way they can infer what the conversation was about, without having to hear it? Eg if two characters have split up, maybe they could tell because there's been a hole punched into the wall/something's out of place

    I's day if you can't involve people, pick the next closest thing (be it scenery, talking animals, or whatever)
     
    Chinspinner likes this.
  6. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Is there some way they can hear about it later on? Do they need to hear it as it's happening. I know if something is somewhat juicy and it refers to someone - another party will make sure they hear about it within 24 hours. It's like the school scenario - I tell my friend I like Jack. She says I won't breathe a word but the next day Jack's says to me - I hear you like me.
     
    Chinspinner likes this.
  7. Chinspinner
    Offline

    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    Messages:
    1,918
    Likes Received:
    1,018
    Location:
    London, now Auckland
    Thanks all,

    @Void Reconsidering this, some of the information can be held back. Other bits can be inferred.

    @Void and @Steerpike I started with three POV's in alternating chapters. Then I decided to cut it back to one. My issue was that some of the characters knew too much of what was going on, which was either going to result in a) removing any suspense, or b) concealing plot points that the POV character would be aware of, which feels like a huge two fingers to the reader. So I decided to cut it back to the character who would be most ignorant of events so that the reader uncovers them at the same time as the POV.

    Unfortunately this has resulted in the current situation where we need to learn information they wouldn't necessarily be party to. As I said in my first post, I hate those sort of fly-on-the-wall characters who are bloody everywhere, at every important conversation and event, without any good reason. I also find eaves-dropping hackneyed.

    @Jack Asher I think they may confirm their suspicions this way. However, any sort of surveillance in this setting would be frowned upon; in fact it just wouldn't happen, it wouldn't be part of the lexicon (which will become a plot point later).

    @peachalulu yeah, I think this will be the way I will initially rouse their suspicions about various events.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2015
  8. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Just because another character knows what is going on doesn't mean you have to tell the reader. (Not that it sounds like you want to go back to multiple POVs.) In The Fifth Wave which I'm currently reading, One character has so far only had one POV chapter where we learn about him and what he was doing. Maybe we'll be in his head again later but for now only a little bit was told in his POV.

    Back to the ways to find something out: I really need more specifics. You say "these conversations". How many? Can the character hear only one of these but the conversation contains information about the other conversations? At least boil it down to one event.

    Your choices are limited:
    Someone else tells your character.
    The character hears a recording of it.
    voice mail
    video
    in person​
    It's written and your character reads it either in an email or a letter.
    Your character hears it directly.​
    Perhaps others can add to the list. Complete the list and then work with it.
     
    Chinspinner likes this.
  9. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,566
    Likes Received:
    3,563
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    I also write in close third. There was one conversation that was fairly important for clarifying what was going on, so now there's a lone POV chapter by a side character in the WIP. Published authors do this too, so if you consider something vital and don't want the MC to learn about it down the grapevine, I'd suggest you use some other character. Might also be a nice change for the reader.

    Of course, if there's something your MC really wants to know, like what his/her enemies are up to, s/he'd do her utmost to find it out... Maybe eavesdrop or plant a bug, or some such. It doesn't have to be a stretch if it's something your character would actually do.
     

Share This Page