1. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    multiple POV-scenes

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tesoro, Jul 23, 2011.

    I'm reading a book by an author who has the habit of switching (sp?) between different characters within the same scene, without nothing more that a new paragraph. I like the effect of it, and think about applicating it to my own ms, because it makes the scenes more complete if you can see it from both perspectives instead of just one at the time. BUT I've heard people on here saying it's not good to do so, and yet this is an established author with lots of books published. If I learn how to master this technique, is there anything that talks against it? some people might find it hard to read, but I still think that it will improve the quality of the whole story, so maybe I should give it a try?
    Any advice?
     
  2. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    People tell you not to do it because if it's done poorly it leads to confusion and then readers get discouraged. If you can do it well there's no reason not to. They key thing there being doing it well, which takes a lot of work and practice. You also don't want to be hopping every paragraph, want to take into consideration which character's views are most important at any given moment, and then decide why you need to switch and if it's worth it. If it adds something to the story, great. If it really doesn't add anything it's better to leave it out.

    But the main thing is to make sure you're switching at times that add something, and not every 5 seconds. You don't want your reader to feel like they're at a tennis match and have to work to keep up.
     
  3. whitefairy24601
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    whitefairy24601 Member

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    Maybe it would be easier if you made it a bit easier to tell the two POVs apart. Maybe a change of font or color? Or the characters name above their part? I wish you luck and think it's nice to be doing something a bit different.
     
  4. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Changing the font (or color :eek:) would be a very poor manuscript decision (and would label you amateur in a blink). You tell them apart by utilizing good writing skills. That is ALL.
     
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  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Very few authors can pull off POV-switching within a scene. Frank Herbert is one of the few, but when his son, Brian Herbert, attempts to follow his father's style, the result is murky and disorienting.

    You are best off limiting a scene to one POV at a time, although you could revisit the scene later from a different POV. Still, many authors limit POV changes to chapter boundaries, and that is probably the safest strategy.
     
  6. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    wouldn't it seem repetitive to revisit the same scene all over again to have both perspectives on it? I'm afraid it would be boring to read. Yet I feel the scene miss something if I exclude the other POV...

    Trish:
    I will consider it and maybe try it with a few selected chapters to see the effect of it. (maybe copying in into another document to not have to rewrite it back later.) thanks for your opinions. it seems to be 50/50 here... :)
     
  7. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    And that's all you can really do. See the thing is, if you don't try it you won't know if you're good at it, and if you think it's going to add something to your story it would probably be worth it to work at it. Nobody became an expert mountain climber by sitting in a boat at the lake.

    And as has been stated time and again on multiple threads over and over, one persons opinion of an author doing something well could be vastly different from someone elses. Things like plot, characterization, empathy, and a multitude of other things combine to make something work or not work and focusing on one thing is short-sighted IMO, as it may just be that the story on the whole wasn't strong enough.
     
  8. foxanthony
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    foxanthony Member

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    Write the kind of stuff you like to read. I think it's a good sign if some people complain. Good writing should be somewhat challenging. Reading isn't like watching tv.
     
  9. whitefairy24601
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    whitefairy24601 Member

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    In that case forget what I said. XP. I am young and know not always what I speak of. Listen to these older and wiser people.
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with Cogito. It is hard to do well. I've read a few authors who can do it nicely (Herbert being one). Virginia Woolf did it without even a new paragraph - the POV practically changed mid-sentence. She did it well.

    If it appeals to you, give it a try. But I recommend paying close attention to the scene when you are editing, and get comments from readers to help you decide whether you've made it work.
     
  11. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    wow, when thinking of how much more work it will take me... :p practically rewriting the whole thing... :eek: but I think I'll try, at least for a few chapters, just as an experiment. then I'll evaluate the result. Thank you guys for the advice. And foxanthony; your post gave me some needed courage, thanks for that. Trish; I guess you're right, only way to see if it works is trying it out. And I will. :p
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It can be, yes. It is not something I would suggest doing often. But it CAN work. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there is a Season 7 episode, Same Time, Same Place, in which the technigie is beautifully done for several scenes. Also, the Star Trek The Next Generation episode A Matter of Perspective.

    Finally, the Orson Scott Card novels Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow show the same series of events (for the most part) from the viewpoints of two different characters.
     

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