1. Beth
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    Beth Member

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    Managing POVs: is it amateur writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Beth, Sep 20, 2008.

    I came across a review of Licia Troisi's blockbuster “The emerged world”.
    Maybe some of you don't have a clue on who this writer is, but since it's not the point, it doesn't matter.

    At some point, I read the following:

    Actually, Troisi's point of view is a tangle. In some sections it's third person limited on Nihal or on the main character of a scene. In other sections it's omniscient. In some cases it's “schizoid”, going from one character's mind to another's in the space of a paragraph. This is nothing but amateur writing.

    Especially the last statement made me lift an eyebrow... is this person saying that a writer should choose ONE point of view and stick to it throughout the whole story?

    In my book I chose to use different POV's depending on what I want to achieve in the reader's understanding, on how deep I want to go into the character's mind. Sometimes I'm omniscient, sometimes I know less than what the characters know. Is this amateur writing?
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Not necessarily. If you write it well, then I don't see a problem. The only way I can see that it'd be bad, is if you flit so erratically from POV to POV, that the reader can't follow whose thoughts they're reading.
     
  3. Wickerman1972
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    Wickerman1972 Member

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    Hmm, don't know about that. I'd have to see the writing for myself. As far as anything related to POV I know that the one thing I can't stand is writing done in the present tense. I'm not sure if that really relates to POV but I think it sort of does.
     
  4. Gamecat
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    Gamecat Member

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    There aren't any rules regarding this but I think that publishers frown on POV jumping, so unless you're very talented it's not something you should engage in.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Changes of POV should be planned, not occurring haphazardly. Many complete novels are written from a single point of view. Others switch among a small number of POVs on chapter or scene boundaries. Some are successgful at switching POV on smaller boundaries, but you incerease the risk of leaving the reader confused or feeling detached from the action.

    Here is a blog entry I wrote not long ago: What's Your Point (of View)?
     
  6. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Cognito's right...it normally happens in chapters for various scenes, sometimes its the same scene, seen through different eyes...etc etc.

    For example, I have one chapter where my MC walks into a bar/strip club on a planet to meet a smuggler/intelligence agent. The scene starts with him watching her enter the room, how she moves, etc etc and his POV ends with her seating down across from him. From there on, the POV switches back to here and stays there.

    One case where the POV switched back and forth was in the battle scene at the end of the novel. I would do to a point with the MC, like ordering her ship to "Fire," then would switch to the other character, a Admiral in charge of the opposing forces through the impact on his ship. Then I'd switch back to the MC and her reaction and any strikes to her ship in return...

    those kinds of POV switches are normal writing, but ones that are all in one scene without any structured break are amatuerish
     
  7. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I personally, enjoy a shifting point of view. If you want an example of how to do it right, read a Dan Brown book. He break a single scene into numerous chapters and each chapter can have a different point of view. That way you create a sustained tension that would be difficult to do if you're saddled with just one characters thoughts and perceptions.

    In general, if you're going to do this, write at least a page before switching, some authors who do the whole 2 paragraph thing can be quite grating, and make a point about the switch ie. don't just switch because you think its cool; your character that you're shifting to needs to have a significant and novel take on whats happening in the scene, different to what already been written.

    Oh, and it also allows you to better implement plot twists, since by changing view you can conceal your characters thoughts from the reader. The Da Vinci Code- Case and Point.
     
  8. Beth
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    Beth Member

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    Thanks everyone!

    Thanks Cogito for your useful blog.

    I must say I feel reassured after reading your replies, because I'm sure I never did anything without a reason behind it (then if it's a good or a bad reason I can't say... :rolleyes: ).
     
  9. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    It's not shifting POV that's amateurish. It's the idea of "headhopping," not being able to be consistent with POV. There's nothing wrong with using more than one POV (I actually prefer this), or with using omniscient, or with shifting to a different one. But the last thing mentioned in the original post, jumping from POV to POV within a single paragraph, strikes me as amateurish. I used to write like that, and now I loathe when I read it, even in published/highly acclaimed works. Not all but many readers hate it as well as it's too confusing.

    If one is going to shift POV, they can switch to a new scene or chapter. If they can't do that, they can at least switch to a new paragraph and ease the reader into the other character's head.
     
  10. Gamecat
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    Gamecat Member

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    Yeah, I should have been more precise with my previous comment.

    I was referring to POV shifts within a chapter, writing a chapter from one POV then shifting for the next is very common and an accepted thing, but jumping within a chapter can be confusing unless you're very careful about how you do it.
     
  11. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I do POV jumps in a chapter quite a bit..so does established writers like David Weber

    What you have to do is establish scene breaks. You can sit there and mark them traditionally as in ### or space them apart accordingly to let the reader/editor know you're switching POV's.

    There is nothing fundamentally wrong with switching POV's during a chapter...
     

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