1. Shbooblie
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    Shbooblie Contributing Member

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    Style Multiple POVs

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Shbooblie, May 8, 2016.

    My story revolves around 2 main characters, a male and a female. Up until last week my story was written in 1st person from only the males perspective. Now I've come to write the part where they meet and am finding it difficult to show her backstory without introducing a huge info dump and nobody wants that.:nosleep:

    Sooo, I've wrote some scenes from her perspective, just as a test, I've found that they completely open up the story and gave it a new tone and change of pace, which I really like.


    My question is though, how can I show that change between narrators in a way that doesn't detract from the story? I've read a few books where it's as simple as Character A: text text text, Character B: text text text - but I've tried it in my text and I feel like doing this affects the flow and makes it look awkward and clunky because of the way that I've structured the chapters.

    Would it be enough to change the font each time the POV changes?
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I'd find a change of font super distracting. In fact I'd find any gimmick like that super distracting. All you need to do is have a scene break or a chapter break and make it clear in the first line whose head we're in.

    If you want to change POV mid-scene... don't. :p
     
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  3. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    I can probably give you some pointers on changing POVs after scene/chapter break - for if you don't want to include headers telling the reader in which head he is right now. Part of my hard-won self-education as a hobbyist storyteller :D Tell me if I should.
     
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  4. Shbooblie
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    Shbooblie Contributing Member

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    Solid advice thanks @Tenderizer . I guess the most important (and probably hardest) part will be developing the characters voices so that they are very distinct from each other. Thanks @Lifeline that would be super helpful, I'm so dim sometimes, It never occurred to me that that's what you are actually doing yourself (even though I've seen your work)! - If I had a brain cell I'd be dangerous :superyesh:
     
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  5. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    You made me laugh :) Okay here goes.

    In addition to @Tenderiser 's very solid advice I found the following to ponder at these breaks. Because there are two key-questions:
    1. How do you make sure that the reader knows where/who he is?
    2. How not to let it disrupt story-flow?
    My - very personal - answers:
    1. First, you could just use the name in the very first sentence. You could also let your character be addressed with their names. But what if that is not possible? The answer to that lies - for me - in that the reader recognises a difference in style (because of the other character's voice). If your characters have distinct voices then the reader will bear without you giving him immediately a name for the first, oh three or five sentences. I wouldn't care to go longer than that, though. Just to make sure that the reader HAS caught on where/who he is now.
    2. Answer to that: Associations. Exact words. At the end of a scene/chapter, plant an image in the head of your readers, to latch on at the beginning of the next scene/chapter. i.e.
      End: A ghost of burning coals would surely be permissible.
      Beginning: The darkness was supposed to be his friend, not feel awkward!

      Or maybe (if possible) let the departing MC think about the next MC.
    My five cents :)
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2016
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  6. Shbooblie
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    Shbooblie Contributing Member

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    In my head my guys scenes are dark and happen mostly indoors, where my girls scenes are vivid and bright and happen mostly outdoors, so I'm hoping I'll be able to make that come through in my writing as well as developing their voices in a way they can be distinguished from one another. He's also very pessimistic, whereas she is fairly optimistic so that might make developing the voices a little easier. I like your tip about planting the image in the readers head then picking it up later on, I think that is something that may be quite achievable in this case.

    Thanks a lot @Lifeline, that is so helpful :blowkiss:
     
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  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    @Shbooblie The current issue (July, 2016) of Writers' Digest has a fantastic article about writing multiple POVs. It's called "Mapping the POV Minefield," by Steven James. It's very detailed and helpful. It focuses mostly on the pitfalls of working with multiple POVs, and not only gives ways to circumvent these pitfalls, but also goes into the reasons WHY they are pitfalls. Excellent article. I'd highly recommend you get hold of a copy.
     
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  8. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    If you want a great example of how not to do multiple POVs, check out the book in my signature :D
     
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  9. Shbooblie
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    Shbooblie Contributing Member

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    Ahh awesome! Thanks jannert I'll check that out for sure! Thanks for remembering me! :bigsmile:

    Haha thanks chained. I'll have a look into that. I like learning from the worst as well as the best, that way I can see what doesn't work and why.:geek:
     
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  10. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    The best thing I have learned is to give each character a distinct 'voice', so the reader knows that character is X or Y or Z and so forth. Also helps to really get into their head, kinda like mental acting where you are them, and walking in their shoes. It takes a bit to get use to it, but it is how I learned to write multi POV. And one more thing stick to one perspective in terms of first and third when changing between characters, there should be only one or the other not both. The only way I know of to pull of that kind of transition is with one MC and going from third to first through diary entries. :p Good luck :)
     
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  11. rem
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    rem Member

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    I like your idea for the story, Shbooblie. I think Bret Easton Ellis made this work in The Rules of Attraction, where he switched to a new first person POV at the beginning of each chapter. He simply used character names as headings. I'd recommend that!

    I think such stories can say something profound about how different we are, and how different we experience the exact same situation. In love and life in general.
     
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