1. Candy Dreams
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    Candy Dreams New Member

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    Multiple POVs?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Candy Dreams, Jul 4, 2010.

    Okay, so in the story I'm currently working on, I've been having a hard time choosing which viewpoint I should write in. Now, I do my best writing in 1st person; it helps me connect with the character and establish their personality more effectively. It also helps me with their character development. The only problem I've found by doing this is only that one character will have any real obvious development to the reader. It makes it appear as though the character who's point of view I'm writing from is the only real important one, when the truth is actually quite far from that.

    In the story I'm working on, I have a rather large amount of characters, and there is a large portion of them who have major roles and gain significant amounts of character development. So while I want to use the best of my ability to write in first person to help the plot run more smoothly, I am also worried that it will make it seem as though many of the other characters are static.

    So, the other day, I tried something I hadn't thought of before. I tried writing each chapter from a different character's POV. So, what I tried was writing Chapter 1 from Character A's POV, then Chapter 2 from Character B's POV, then Chapter 3 from Character C's POV, etc.

    Now, I know this isn't a new method of writing, but I would like to know what others' thoughts on this method is. Do you find it confusing when each chapter is written from a different character's point of view? Or do you think it helps with their character development? Please share your thoughts.
     
  2. theSkaBoss
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    theSkaBoss Member

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    It's a workable method of writing, but you just need to be careful to very quickly and immediately establish who the current speaker is. We can't be floundering, trying to figure out how the last character jumped immediately from a subway in New York to standing on the Great Wall of China. If you know how to clearly show that we're seeing out of the eyes of a new person right from the get-go, then that will be a good method for you to try.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    From everything you are saying, you should be writing in third person. Third person is the best general purpose narrative voice anyway,and it can be as intimate a POV as first person, while allowing the writer to nearly seamlessly transition to focus on other characters.

    Third person limited brings the focus very close to one character at a time without becoming tat character.
     
  4. CaKsTeR
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    CaKsTeR Member

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    I agree that the best POV would be third person in this regard. It sets every character at the same level of importance in the readers' eyes, and allows you to develop them all at the same time.

    I remember at least one author I've read chose to use multiple perspectives for different individuals. There were two main characters in the novel, one of which was written in First Person and the other in Third. It's an interesting method that could work if you want to develop every character, but keep one more important than the rest.
     
  5. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am actually reading Tap, Tap by David Martin who does this. From one characters point of view is done in First Person. While another character is done in Third Person. Only the parts in Third Person seem to be in the present tense. While the First Person seems to be in the past tense. Its... annoying.

    Anyways.

    Personaly I would recommend using third person. It makes it easier to establish whose Character's PoV is being read. You can get as close to the character as first person and allows for a smoother ride.
     
  6. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I prefer to do it all from third person but focus on a particular character per chapter. I keep it balanced that way and it gives the reader a chance to get into each character's head. Third person can be as personal as first if done correctly and it gives you more flexibility if there is more than one MC.
     
  7. ojduffelworth
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    ojduffelworth Contributing Member

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    The only problem I've found by doing this is only that one character will have any real obvious development to the reader. It makes it appear as though the character who's point of view I'm writing from is the only real important one, when the truth is actually quite far from that.
    We all live and experience the world in first person, but can recognize the importance of others around us, observe their development, and appreciate the significance of their differing viewpoints. Why can’t your character do the same? If he/she is narrow-minded, the significance and development of other characters could be shown as his reaction to that, or the impact of it on him.

    In the story I'm working on, I have a rather large amount of characters, and there is a large portion of them who have major roles and gain significant amounts of character development.

    First question, do you really need a large amount of significant characters with major roles? I think in trying to make a large amounts of characters major/significant you are in danger of diminishing them all.
    I think good stories produce emotionally attachment in the reader to a few main characters. It’s difficult for a reader to feel for everyone in a piece—and if there is no bond, I would ask: do you really need to include that character in the story: is the character going to be major/significant to the reader, or merely to the writer?

    While third person can be as intimate as first person, I think it’s harder to achieve. At least that is what I find in most books I read and in my own writing.
    Is it a character driven story, or an event driven story? I would tend to choose first person for the former and third for the latter.

    I tried writing each chapter from a different character's POV.
    I think that would be difficult to do without seeming try-hard. Although , Private Dancer by Stephen Leather pulled off swaping between first person voices. But even then, there weren’t a large amount of characters (voices) in his novel - just lots of swaps between a few characters.
     
  8. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I agree, third person will work for your story specially when you want to have multiple POVs, but I have read some very good books in first person where there were many major characters. So, having many characters shouldn't be a reason for not writing in first person single POV.

    First person with multiple POVs: doable but won't be easy.
     
  9. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with this. So I'll co-sign.
     
  10. Legacy1306
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    Legacy1306 Senior Member

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    Have you read the barthameus trilogy? It tells the story from two main characters' POV's, but here's the interesting part:
    When in barthameus' POV, it is first person.
    When in nathaniel's POV, it's third person.
    It makes for an incredibly coherent novel, as the first person captures Barthameus' snide pesronality and vanity in a way that third person just can't accomplish. However, nathaniel being in third person allows us to see what others think of nathaniel, which drives the plot forward and actually is the catalyst for the events in the story (which we find out through flashbacks)
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I've read a few books with 1st person POV for one character, and then POVs for other characters that are either in 1st person, different narrator, or in some other POV. I think it can work just fine. This will sound obvious, but the key is to do it effectively. If you can pull it off, then great. If you aren't sure about it, you're probably better off moving to 3d person. You can write in 3d person and convey the same general sense and feel as 1st person.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Without trying to sound insulting, the fact she asked the question says to me she doesn't have the experience at this point to manage first/third POV transitions smoothly. The reason people choose first person is because it has a different tone than third person. Unless the writer is quite experienced, that difference in tone will be disordant to the reader.

    Third to third from different POVs is challenging enough.
     
  13. DaWalrus
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    DaWalrus Member

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  14. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    It really is. That's what I'm doing now. I wouldn't be doing it if I hadn't been writing for years.

    Stick with one character and one POV first time around until you are more comfortable with moving from character to character. The more you write the easier it will get to transition from one to another more easily.
     

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