1. TwelfthNight
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    TwelfthNight Member

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    Multiple POVs in the same book?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by TwelfthNight, Oct 2, 2008.

    I've been writing my story in the first person, as it's the easiest for me. But I've also figured out that to get everything into the story that I want to, I might have to change this.
    Would it be too hard to switch between two or three people's POV? Or would it be easier to write in the third person instead?
     
  2. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I'm reading a book now where this happens a lot, and it is simply annoying at first, but now i'm used to it.
     
  3. Beth
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    Beth Member

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    "A long way down" by Nick Hornby features multiple first person POVs. Maybe you might check it out.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Third person is the best choice for three or more POVs. Usually it's the best POV for one or two POVs also, but if you really are set on fist person, you can, if you're good at it, alternate between a couple POVs,

    I think doing that in first person for more than 2 POVs is really pointless. The only reason for first person is to bind the reader's perspective to the main character. ?The best reason for doing that for two POVs is to spend some time in an antagonist's POV, or at least someone whose perspective you wish to contrast with that of the MC.

    To handle multiple first persom POVs, you MUST be adept at character driven narration, which is narration that has a "voice" that reflects the character's thought and speech patterns. It's like having to write everything in dialogue, but most of it is still written as narration.

    Third person is a far more nimble POV. You can switch with much less preparation without xdisorienting the reader.
     
  5. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you know your characters very well, first person can be really fun to write in. You will constantly be asking yourself "what would this person say/think/do in this situation." And if you have a variety of characters, the answers to that question can be diverse and profoundly interesting. However, you will also find yourself trapped in that character's head until an opportunity to jump ship arrives, such as a chapter break or the end of a scene. Switching POV at bad times is the easiest way to ruin not only 1st person, but any POV, so choosing when to make the switch is probably the most crucial aspect.
     
  6. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    It's easier for me to write, and I prefer to read, multiple POVs if they're all in third person. Then again, I'm kind of biased against first person even if it is just one POV being used.

    You'll see that opinions vary. *shrug* But you're going to have to be a lot more clearcut regarding POV switching--with first person, it seems the only way to pull it off effectively is to switch chapters/scenes, whereas with third person, you have a bit more leeway.
     
  7. NateDoggy
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    NateDoggy Member

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    The movie "Vantage Point" pulled off multiple POV's perfectly in my opinion, but that's a movie it's easier.

    I think the only book I have only read one book with multiple first-person POVs and I no longer recall the title. It's in the way it's written, I think you could pull it off effectively pretty easily. Each chapter could be another person's POV (I know there is a book written in that style). It could be a nice story. Third person does work better though.
     
  8. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    The first (and only) book I've read in this style was William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. It's basically about a dying mother and her family who tries to honor her wish of where to be buried. It's funny, because the dead mother actually narrates a few chapters. I remember reading it in high school and thinking "how'd this dead chick get a chapter." Yeah, I was a dumb kid.

    According to Wikipedia, it's 59 chapters with 15 diferent characters narrating. Wow.
     
  9. NateDoggy
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    NateDoggy Member

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    Yes that was the book I was thinking of. I read it last year in Honors English, very confusing in my opinion, but it pulled off multiple POV's well.
     
  10. TwelfthNight
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    TwelfthNight Member

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    Yes, that was what I was thinking about doing. It would make it easier for the reader in the long run to understand who she is, and what happened to her.
     
  11. NateDoggy
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    NateDoggy Member

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    It's a great idea I hope to see it on the site, I want to read it now, anticipation :)
     
  12. TheAdlerian
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    TheAdlerian Senior Member

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    What I'm writing has each chapter change first person POV for four characters. I'm having fun writing it because each person has much different personality, yet might be commenting on the same event.

    So far, I'm having a blast with the creation of it. It's a bit like writing several small stories rather than one big one and I'm not getting bored with the characters. I get through a section, then get to write a whole new POV.

    Hopefully, I'm correct that the characters are very different. That's the trick.
     
  13. NateDoggy
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    NateDoggy Member

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    Yes the characters must be very diffrent, and the story must flow together nicely. As mentioned, As I lay Dying was a perfect example of this.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You don't have to write in first person to show a character clearly. How your character speaks, acts, and reacts does that very well. You can take third person close enough that you can see, hear and feel what the character sees, hears and feels, and even catch the occasional thought.

    The above is written in third person, except for his literal thoughts, yet it is as if written from inside Blake's head. You see and hear what he does, you feel his tension, but you aren't burdened with "I" and "me" everywhere.

    The same scene, or even the same entire story, could be told in first person. In fact, many mystery novels are. But in third person, it would be easy to skip over to Murdock's point of view, perhaps as he becomes wary of an ambush and changes strategy, moving to a side entrance to the room.
     
  15. NateDoggy
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    NateDoggy Member

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    This is true, I just find the first person view much less used, and more unique. I find it a better read as well but that is all just personal prefrence.
     
  16. TheAdlerian
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    TheAdlerian Senior Member

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    I love first person because it feel personal to me, like someone telling me a story. But Third is great too.

    I can't remember the name, but the sequel to The Alienist (great read) annoyed me and I stopped reading it. The narration was in 2nd and was done by an uneducated assistant to MC doctor. So, he was like an innocent watch the great man the whole time. It seemed like a technique to avoid have to write complex explanations.
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The best place to use second person is when you're writing a how-to book. It's invariably awful for fiction.
     
  18. TheAdlerian
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    TheAdlerian Senior Member

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    Yes, it's like a double filter away from the action. You don't get to here what the MC thinks directly, and you don't get the all knowing 3rd voice.
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, I compare second person in fiction to the writer snapping on a proctology glove, then working the reader like a ventriloquist dummy.

    Don't know about you, but the idea makes me squirm uneasily!
     
  20. TheAdlerian
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    TheAdlerian Senior Member

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    No wonder I put that book down!
     
  21. NateDoggy
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    NateDoggy Member

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    Yeah 2nd person doesn't really work well in fiction, I can't say I've ever gotten past the first page of any book written in 2nd person.
     
  22. TigerFire
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    TigerFire New Member

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    I've seen some novel's that are done in first and third. When it's in the view of the main character, it's in 1st. But then if there is a scene change and it shows what another character is doing to affect the story, then it switches to third person. I can't think of a novel at this time that has that. But I write in Third Person Limited, meaning when a scene is written, you see things through that characters eyes that you are doing the scene in. This allows you to easily switch scenes into different POV's and not confuse the reader.
     
  23. TwelfthNight
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    TwelfthNight Member

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    Yes I thought of that too, a majority of James Patterson's books are like that, Maximum Ride series or Sundays at Tiffany's for example. It works quite effectively.
     
  24. TwelfthNight
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    TwelfthNight Member

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    And in regards to fictional books written in the second person, I've never encountered one nor do I wish to.
     
  25. TigerFire
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    The only thing I've ever seen in 2nd person that was fiction was those old Choose Your Own Adventures books. You walk into the room and see two doors. Turn to page 3 if you go to the one on the right. Turn to page 6 if you go through the door on the left.
     

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