1. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    Is this a POV switch?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by SwampDog, Apr 6, 2013.

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    (George speaking in response to MC) 'Well, I can understand that. Another day, I'll take you down to Sinderby nick. One of the beat lads there knows Digby Dalehouse, the buyer at Brompton Stud.' He tailed off and pondered for a few moments, focussing on an ancient single barrelled Cooey 12-bore hammer shotgun, lovingly oiled and still serviceable, displayed on the chimney breast over the old oak mantle. He cleared his throat, as if unsure how to proceed. 'But how come there wasn't any evidence?... blah blah.'

    Is the fact that George pondered for a few moments classed as a change in POV from my MC? If I'd said, George focussed on the shotgun, wondering how to proceed... I can see that being a change. But pondered, as written above?

    Cheers
     
  2. Bee Kay
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    Bee Kay Member

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    The act of pondering and the act of focusing can both be identified with visual cues by your MC and during your MC's POV, which means it's pretty safe. imo, that should fly just fine.
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I don't see anything that suggests that the current POV is anyone other than George. But since George's response is to the MC, I'll assume that it is. You don't say WHAT he is pondering, so I agree with Bee - no POV shift. OTOH, I'm not sure that "pondered" would be my verb of choice, here. "Reflected" might be better. I generally think of "pondered" as having a specific object, while the usage here appears to be more general.
     
  4. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    Perhaps should have clarified at the start. The MC is facially scarred from an incident on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier ten years before. He's starting to relate events, but clearly he's self-conscious about his facial disfigurement.

    Whilst I'm rewording, I'm thinking that George will wonder how far to press the MC at this particular time in telling his tale. Could it distress the MC unnecessarily? That is the pondering, and the focussing is giving him, George, a second or two of thinking time (but he decides to continue with his next question.)

    Is the narrator giving George a POV with the way it's phrased in the OP?
     
  5. Bee Kay
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    Bee Kay Member

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    I think whether it distresses the MC unnecessarily is up to you and how you write him as a character. The POV stuff seems fine, though. Visual cues, which you seem to have made use of, keep it safe.
     
  6. bluejt2000
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    bluejt2000 Member

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    Yes, it is a change in POV. Although only brief, it would annoy me in a book. In order to retain the MCs POV you only need to state something like: His gaze shifted to the ancient....

    Cheers
     
  7. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    Agreed, but that wasn't quite what I was after. George ponders and focusses, because he doesn't know if his continued questioning will upset the MC. I don't want a line break and new scene with, George wondered if... and give George a specific POV.

    Rather, the way it's written in the OP and the subsequent clarifying post, would the reason come across for George's hesitancy as part of the narration, or would it come across as a head-hop POV from George?
     
  8. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    Many thanks. That seems to have distilled it. Your other suggested edits I have it hand, thanks, but it's this POV - trying not to get bogged down. :D

    @Bee Kay - cheers. I'll work in your suggestion of visual cues.
     
  9. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, this reads like George's POV, not another character's.
    If you want it to be in the MC's POV, you need to have the MC note George's actions, so the events are not in a good order.

    You have:
    1) He tailed off and 2) pondered for a few moments, 3) focussing (how does the MC know he is "focussed" on the shotgun? Maybe he's looking in that direction but thinking something totally disconnected) on an ancient single barrelled Cooey 12-bore hammer shotgun, lovingly oiled (how does the MC know it is oiled "lovingly"? maybe it is just a chore) and still serviceable (if it's hanging up, howdoes the MC know this? Does he go around testing other people's weapons?)
    Why is George pondering before he even starts looking at the thing?

    You need to have the events:
    1) He tailed off and 2) fixed his gaze on an ancient single barrelled Cooey 12-bore hammer shotgun. The barrel glinted as though it was still serviceable and looked after with care. 3) George thought for a few moments (How? Give more detail about his expression etc. The MC wouldn't bother noting that he was pondering if there wasn't something to capture his interest about George's behaviour)
     
  10. Bee Kay
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    Bee Kay Member

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    I'm curious for your opinion on this! But: his gaze shifted to is pretty similar to his gaze focused on, isn't it? And from there, wouldn't he focused on be acceptable shorthand? It's still a visual action that's able to be observed by the MC. That's why I supposed the POV hadn't changed.

    For the record, madhoca's pulled together a bunch of smaller details that make for a bigger, more important picture; I pretty much agree with that post, looking at it with more clarity.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that as written, the example knows too much about what the observed character thinks. "Pondering" is on the edge; knowing exactly what the character is staring at it when he could presumably be looking at any number of things in that direction pushes it over that edge. Then the detailed description of what he's looking at keeps us in that ambiguous place for a long time.
     
  12. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    @ madhoca - Just got to your post. For the record in the interim on the subject of the shotgun - we're in the MC's cottage. That's how we know it's lovingly oiled and serviceable.

    But you've thrown me.
    Then you say (my bold):
    You've just given me George's POV when you stated to be in the MC's POV I need to... ;)

    Until I get more writing experience and can judge the subtleties of POV, I want to stay with the MC, but simply querying the way it was written whether George pondering switched the narrative to his POV.
     
  13. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    This in Geoge's POV, not another character's. If you want it to be another character's, a rewrite is necessary. The ownership of the shotgun isn't clear from your extract (From the POV I give, it isn't the owner viewing it):

    He tailed off and fixed his gaze on an ancient single barrelled Cooey 12-bore hammer shotgun. The barrel glinted as though it was still serviceable and looked after with care. George thought for a few moments (How? Give more detail about his expression etc. The MC wouldn't bother noting that he was pondering if there wasn't something to capture his interest about George's behaviour)

    MC's POV:
    He tailed off. He was looking at the ancient single barrelled Cooey 12-bore hammer shotgun, lovingly oiled and still serviceable, on the chimney breast over the old oak mantle. He appeared to be deep in thought.

    If it has been made clear earlier that the shotgun belongs to the MC (the ownership isn't clear here) you could keep the "lovingly oiled" part. I must say find that rather a cliche, and the "pondered" rather than plain English "thought" bothers me as well. The MC wouldn't think about his own shotgun "oh, I've got it 'displayed' there" he would just think "it's there".
     
  14. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    What you have there is a dialogue tag. No POV change.
     
  15. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    If it's the MC POV, you don't need "as though" etc and you can know about the shotgun. You can't know exactly if George is focussed on it or, nor know how deeply he's thinking, so you need more visual clues to indicate it.
    If it's Geoge's POV, you do need it "as though" etc, and you can't have knowledge of the oiling, etc.
    For both POVs you have to have George stop speaking, then see the shotgun and then fall into deep thought--although it now occurs to me that he should maybe catch sight of the shotgun, stop speaking, then go off into deep thought.
     
  16. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, yes. If this story is told strictly through one character's eyes then, yes, If you state that George "pondered", this is a shift in POV and you are slipping into limited omniscient 3d. You are presenting something as fact of which your MC would not have knowledge. The MC, in fact, has no way of knowing what George is doing or what he is looking at, unless of course George actually places a hand on the shotgun. Perhaps noting that he "stared toward" the old shotgun or something of that nature would help to keep you in the MC's POV. Otherwise, you are, indeed, head hopping.
     
  17. bluejt2000
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    bluejt2000 Member

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    Similar, but there is a difference. Focusing is something that could only be done through George's eyes, and therefore only described by him. On the other hand, if the latter was described as shifting his gaze it would be possible for the MC to notice either his eyeballs or his head swivel towards the gun. I do see (forgive the pun) how 'focusing' could be interpreted the same way, but it jars on me. It might avoid any ambiguity if George was just described as turning towards the gun.

    I'd assumed first, that it was the MCs point of view and secondly, that the MC would have had information regarding the gun, and that this would have been mentioned elsewhere. If the latter is so then its remaining within the MCs point of view. Also, we're told George's voice tails off but it doesn't--he finishes the sentence. Any tailing off ought to have been shown by ellipses, which would have kept things within the MCs point of view. Of course, 'pondering' is a shift of POV too, but following George's speech only 'His gaze shifted to the ... blah, blah' would then be necessary.

    Regardless of whether the MC does or does not already have the knowledge about the gun, I think there's too much information in that sentence and the bits about maintenance, etc., could be cut and inserted elsewhere if they're necessary for the plot.

    Anyhow, that's my take on things.
     
  18. Darkhorse
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    The OP was not a change of POV. However, if you want to say why he actually pondered it would be a change of POV. OTOH, you could have the main character guess why George is pondering, but you would have to make it clear that it is the MC view and not the narrator relating why George did so.

    When you say he is pondering, it is the MC's opinion, or his view, that George is pondering.
     
  19. Lost72
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    No POV switch because this is your MC's perception of the events. It's reasonable for him/her to assume that George, in a moment of quiet, is pondering, and it's just as reasonable to assume that he is focussing on the gun. In fact, provided you are clearly and firmly inside your MC's POV, it is perfectly reasonable for him/her to perceive, rightly or wrongly, any number of things - an unreliable narrator.
     
  20. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Correct. Because the MC is looking right at George and can tell that he is thinking about what he'll say next.

    However, I'd suggest a slight rewrite for clarity sake.
     
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  21. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    I'm just reading another Harlan Coben novel starring Myron Bolitar. This time I'm concentrating far more on the POV. The narrator uses the same voice as Bolitar, the same humorous observations etc. Easy to see as Bolitar is at times referred to in the third person. The narrator is there along side him. But when Bolitar observes, that's usually fairly clear as well.

    But in my OP, George pondering was supposed to be the narrator's observation to inform the reader. So does that make it effectively Bob's (MC) voice as his was the current POV? With Bolitar, there's such a lot of crossover.
     
  22. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Okay I'm just going to come straight out and ask: Is this in first person or third?
     
  23. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    Third.
     
  24. Lost72
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    This is limited third?

    For each scene/chapter, you will establish the POV. If you established the POV as Bob's for this scene then, yes, George's pondering is Bob's observation/voice, be that filtered through a narrator or not.

    If you want a visible, opinionated narrator; head-hopping etc - omniscient is the way to go.

    HTH
     
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  25. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Then I don't see why you would have thought that this was a POV shift.

    I would like to suggest that larger segments of stories be posted when someone is asking questions of structure or style--for context is important.

    Form follows function.
     

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