1. Fred
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    Fred Member

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    Multiple characters and changing the POV

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Fred, Oct 24, 2013.

    I'm still in the very first draft, but I'm getting in quite a pickle with a substantial cast of characters and a lot of activity in a lot of different places. I still have plenty of opportunity to edit, rewrite and restructure things, but I'm curious to sound out you wise ones!

    I have a perfectly good MC to provide the story's main POV, but she can't be everywhere at the same time, and so, if I want to write a scene where she's not present, I have to change the POV. When you guys do this, do you always use the same characters as the POV for the scenes they're in? What do you do when the MC is absent, but two or more of those alternate POVs are present? I was just re-reading a big action scene which I'd written whilst it played out like the climax of The Magnificent Seven in my head (no, this is not the actual text - honest!):

    Ross waited in the kitchen, thinking about last night's grilled cheese sandwich and what Monica would say if she were here to cook him a proper meal. He reloaded his musket, fixed a bayonet on the end, and puffed a Lucky Strike as he waited for the worst that the red planet could throw at them.

    Meanwhile, in the bathroom, an alien commando attacked Phoebe and started to strangle her. She felt the icy grip of Martian death about her throat and screamed. Joey saw the monster from his foxhole and levelled his AK-47. As he squeezed the trigger, he recalled his date with Rachel and the time spent winning her that stuffed toy with a BB gun at the State Fair.

    Behind them all, in the bedroom, Chandler, whimpering like a starved puppy, quivered in the darkened wardrobe, cursing himself for his cowardice and poor choice of hiding place.


    OK, not quite The Magnificent Seven, but I do have several people (supporting characters all - the MC is elsewhere) in different locations engaged in various activities. I realised that I'd given each of them their own POV. My inclination is that it's too messy, but I'm not sure how else to illustrate each what character faces in their own corner of the battlefield. Or should I? Maybe it's best to just stick to the MC's POV and go with something like:

    Across the hall the battle raged, but Malcolm remained in the middle of the room. Although the whistles and bangs of musketry and laser blasters filled the air, the boy's steely focus was resolutely fixed on his homework. Malcolm gritted his teeth, trying to recall his teacher's helpful words, and prayed that his Friends would see off the extraterrestrial menace and rush to his rescue before this quite tricky book report got the better of him.

    Maybe some of you guys have written, say, a fantasy epic with an army of characters, or maybe the tale of one platoon's journey from Normandy to Berlin, or something not dissimilar, where you have several recurring, developing characters, each with their own POV. I'm not used to managing such a large cast of characters, so would welcome any helpful tips and opinions.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2013
  2. Tara
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    Tara Contributing Member

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    Whether you should change the POV or not partly depends on whether you are planning to do it again/did it before in the story. If you change the POV severalt times in the story I don't really see a problem, if you will only change the POV once you should wonder whether it really adds anything to the story.

    In the end, of course, it's up to you how you will deal with the POV.
     
  3. Fred
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    Fred Member

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    It has bounced around a lot, certainly. Many different scenes where many different people do many different things.
     
  4. Fred
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    Fred Member

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    Ah-ha! I've just found this thread:PoV and Chapters.
    That'll teach me to run headlong into things without looking both ways!
    My question now is whether it's easier on the reader to create a new chapter when I change POV, or allow for a POV change in a new scene within a chapter (all other appropriate things being equal, etc.)?
     
  5. Tara
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    Tara Contributing Member

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    I've read both and I don't really notice a difference; I'll understand what's going on either way.
    If you write in first person and change the POV I suggest you mention the name of the person whose POV you're writing in, otherwise readers will know as soon as you mention names in the story (X did this...).
     

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