1. jess046
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    jess046 Member

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    Jumping around with lots of POVs

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by jess046, Jul 18, 2011.

    I wanted to hear some other writers' opinions on novels that jump around to various POVs. Obviously, a lot of novels do this with big casts of characters, with I suppose Dickens being the staple for this kind of writing with successors such as Tom Wolfe, ect. What I've been thinking of, however, is jumping to another character's POV for just one chapter.

    You see, I've been working on my novel for a few months now and it originally started with two mains, but I wanted to show them from other character's POVs so I wrote the first half of the novel from two separate POVs, with other supporting characters appearing periodically. The focus was always on my two mains. However, since I've been writing about these characters for a few months now, the supporting characters have become a lot clearer in my mind. And I've been thinking of doing a chapter from their POV since it will add to the overall theme and flesh the character out a little more. I'm worried that it's going to be too much though. I've already explored five POVs (including my mains) and don't want the story to get bloated.

    I'm inspired a lot by Bret Easton Ellis who does this in The Rules of Attraction, jumping to random characters' POV for a chapter and then returning to the mains. So it can be done well. I'm just not sure if it's right for my story.

    Anyway to bring this discussion back to a more general area, how do you guys feel about a wide scope of POVs? Is it effective story technique or just lazy?
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    It's far from lazy. To do it well is more difficult than maintaining a single POV. If you can do it well, go for it.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Most, but not all, novels switch among multiple POVs. However, the writer must manage those changes so the reader makes each transition smoothly.

    Most writers are wll advised to make all POV transitions only at chapter boundaries, or at most at scene boundaries. A very small number of writers, such as Frank Herbert, have been able to master POV changes within a scene.
     
  4. e(g)
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    e(g) Member

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    I definitely agree that POV shifts should only be done at chapter breaks. Also, I believe that the number of characters who get their own POV in a novel should be kept to the absolute minimum.

    But I suppose that's a question of individual style.
     
  5. Batgoat
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    Batgoat Senior Member

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    Does the insertion of a different character POV add to the story? Or will it simply re-cover ground you've already trodden? Or, worse yet, is it simply just a way of boosting your word count?

    My belief is that any story should be free of superfluous text. It's what my most cherished English teacher called "Purple Prose." Text that doesn't move the story anywhere and is simply just there for the sake of being there.
     
  6. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    Let me put it this way:You're like Jesus now.

    Either you pull it off and become a saint...

    Or you don't and get crucified. It's a risky choice.
     
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think there is anything risky about it. You just need to make clear to the reader that the POV is changing. Tom Clancy, just to name one, changes POVs with changes of scenes quite frequently, sometimes with several changes within a chapter.
     
  8. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have you tried a 3rd person objective POV? Then there would be no need to switch.
     
  9. jess046
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    jess046 Member

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    Well it would sort of defeat the point. For this novel, everything is very subjective, which is why I'm using lots of different POVs in the first place. I've sort of left the story as is now and might come back later and add in his POV. As it is, I don't think his character has enough purpose for a separate plot thread. I'm going to have to think this one through, but I'll leave it until I finish the first draft.
     
  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    You can make everything subjective in third person. E.M. Forster's "A Passage to India" is a great example of that.
     
  11. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, but then we'd be back to jumping around.
     
  12. NecessaryPain
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    NecessaryPain Member

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    There is no hard and fast rule to writing any sort of novel. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

    'Rules' are being broken all the time by writers all over the world. If you can make it work, then do it. If you can't make it work, then find another way to proceed.

    People keep saying you need to stick to this and stick to that. You don't need to stick to anything. Good writing will either flow well, or not at all. Staying within Chapter's, shouldn't make a blind bit of difference to how well your story is told. You are the master, and the readers will follow what you say. Or not.
     
  13. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think there's anything wrong with jumping around. It can be an effective way for telling a story.
     
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  14. Raging_Ty
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    Raging_Ty Member

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    I always like shits in POVs in a story as long as there isn't multipule perspectives of the same senario because then I imagine the story would become to repetitive seeing as how different points and the outcome of the situation have already been showcased through othe POVs. That's just my opinion
     

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