1. randomme1
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    randomme1 Member

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    Need Help on multiple POV

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by randomme1, Sep 18, 2012.

    Hi,

    Ok in my story there are two MC's. I plan to switch POV's about midway through my story. How can I do this without too much confusion? I would also like to keep the 1st person perspective I have going. Where the character's are recalling the events to someone else. Is there anyway I can do this without changing to 3rd person, or am I going to have to do that?

    Thanks in advance! :)
     
  2. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    It's harder to do multiple first person POV's. The action isn't impossible, but very difficult for a lot of authors, experienced or novice, to handle correctly. I'm not sure how others feel on the subject, but I feel third person is better for multiple POV's then first person. Since I've never written in first person, I'll hand the floor over to those who have more experience.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Multiple first person POVs are a bad idea. The main reason for choosing a first person POV is to commit to sticking to that POV. If you must use a firat person POV and yet need other POVs, make the other ones third person.

    As a last resort, separate the book into parts, almost like making them separate books, so you keep the first person POV consistent throughout the part.
     
  4. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    I agree with Cogito.

    It's possible... but really hard. To pull it off, you'd have to give each character a distinct voice. You would almost have to change up your writing style to make it work without the reader forgetting which character they're reading. And no matter how well you write it, it will be jarring to the reader. A close 3rd person perspective would be alot easier to pull off. You could relate their thoughts, and emotions, but just do it in 3rd instead of 1st.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Multiple 1st person strikes me as one of those notions that people think they should try just because they can. The very idea of it is forced. I've seen (and even written) one part 1st person, the rest 3rd person, and I wasn't too thrilled with it when I was done. For multiple POVs, I think 3rd person is just cleaner unless you have a specific reason for wanting to have one of them as 1st.
     
  6. Wolfwig
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    Wolfwig Member

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    Sounds like a heavy challenge for a creative mind. I wouldn't go so far as to say it can't or shouldn't be done, though. The key would be to make the transition obvious and understandable to the reader. One can easily picture a scenario where a "listener" is hearing a story from two separate "tellers", in succession or alternating. As long as the audience knows who is speaking, does it matter whether it's told as 1st or 3rd? Film and theater have an easier time telling both sides as first person accounts because the audience can see the speaker. However, I would be surprised if there wasn't a literary technique available for achieving the same effect. If I can come up with an example, I'll post it.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Or a pitfall for the unwary.

    Save the "challenges" until you're a published writer with more experience under your belt. Even the "easy path" is anything but. There's no value in doing everything the hard way without understanding why it's the hard way!

    A wise man learns from his mistakes, but a wiser man learns from the mistakes of others.
     
  8. Volcre
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    Volcre Member

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    Writing multiple characters in first person POV is something that I've been planning for a while and that I'd love to do some day when I'm a better writer. Even though it probably will be incredibly challenging, I advise you not to give up on it if you really believe it will make your story better. I personally prefer writing in 1st person because I feel like I can get the emotions and the perception across better (I like to take advantage of skewed perception/unreliable narrator) but you should write in a way that you're most comfortable with.

    Suggestions? Read the Amulet of Samarkand. From what I remember of it in my teenage years, there are two characters, Nathaniel and Bartimaeus. Bart narrates in the 1st person and Nate is observed in the first person. It's a good read so you should enjoy it but it might also give you some ideas with regard to the technical aspect. One thing that the author does is to clearly state at the start of the chapter who's chapter it is (Nate or Bart) so there's no ambiguity when it comes to who our mind is on. That's a very important thing to get across with multiple protagonists, you always want your reader to know who's speaking.

    Oh and perhaps a few pointers, I'm not sure how valuable they'll be. When it comes to writing from two different characters' first person perspectives, you need to create a large enough distinction in the way those characters think. Remember that a 1st person narrative is from the person's point of view i.e. his or her perception of the events taking place, not necessarily what's really happening (if such an actual reality actually exists :p). Perception has a lot to do with thought patterns but also very much to do with language and feeling. It's very important that your characters speak differently, especially inside their own heads. You can also differ the sentence structure and the way they feel about certain events. For example, you might have two characters John and Fred witnessing the same car crash. John might be unphased and think to himself in a cold manner about the tragic and unpredictable nature of life. Fred might be more impulsive and freeze up in horror before becoming overwhelmed with different emotions and running off to the car to see if anyone is still alive, not really forming coherent or complete thoughts as he's a bit shocked.

    Anyway good luck with it. Hope some of this might have helped.
     
  9. randomme1
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    randomme1 Member

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    Thanks to all for the great advice!

    For those of you that suggested that the two charcters need to think/perceive things differently, I don't really have a problem with that. My two characters are polar opposites of each other. I wrote up a scenario two times, each with the different characters handling it, and I am pretty comfortable writing from both perspectives. I know how both of them think and react to the same situation.

    Cogito, I believe you are right about saving this challenge for when I am more experienced. I am a novice at this point. I have never written a full novel before, I definitely shouldn't be trying something as confusing as this is. After all, I am still having problems just getting the plot down!

    Wolfwig, I never thought of using the Two Storytellers Method. That seems like it could work if I do it just right. Only problem with this is that I have to find a way around the timeline for a major plot point regarding the two characters (specifically what one character does to the other).

    Volcre, I will definitely pick that book up, I need some example of how it's done. Hopefully it will help!

    As for why I am trying to do this, I never really planned for this to happen. I was creating characters and one of my side characters just seemed REALLY interesting to me. So i kind of built him up more, and he turned into a 2nd protagonist. The two main character's now just compliment each other, opposites attract maybe? So I don't see another way of telling my story now without both of their adventures being told.

    But like I said, they are opposites. So I guess they are each other's antagonists, but I also have a major antagonist for the entire plot. Am I confusing anyone? It sounds confusing to me...
     
  10. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I agree with Cog one thousand percent. To attempt to do so at the start of a career can lead the picking up some really bad habits, which once learned, are very hard to break. It's never a good habit to try something that's near the high end of the difficulty ladder whenever starting a new skill, whether it be sports, writing, a job, and the list goes on. Doing so tends to set a person up for failure, and discouragement will trail right along behind that failure. Once that happens, most people then feel like they can't accomplish the goal and either keep trying, and continuing the bad habits, at it or give up.

    I'd recommend backing down a bit and settling on one or the other POV. First and Third Person don't mix very well, and I can name one novel "Bitter Angels" by C.S. Anderson, which did that and it made for a jarring read even for me-and my reading comprehension level's through the roof. If it felt that way for an advanced reader like myself, how did the average ordinary joe reader feel? I'm willing to bet several of them put the book back down and never finished it.

    just my .02
     
  11. dreamkeeper
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    dreamkeeper New Member

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    As a reader, changing povs (first to third) and multiple first person povs are my pet peeves. I prefer one constant pov and one first person pov all throughout. If writer wants to present the different povs of all his characters, I would like to read it in 3rd person limited. The main objective is clarity; how you deliver your story to your readers in a way it could be understood.
     
  12. Wolfwig
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    Wolfwig Member

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    RM1,

    Place your difficulties on the back burner if you must, but let them continue to simmer. Mr. Ergo Sum likes his blacks and whites, but effective writing requires the ability to work deftly with all the gray matter - even before moving on to color. Who's to say the spirit won't move you in surprising ways, leapfrogging the rest of us? At the very least, understand what you're up against, so you'll be prepared to receive the awaited inspiration when it eventually comes. Personally, I prefer learning through challenges and falling into pits - perhaps I'm a bit masochistic. Anyway, becoming a wise "man" - however you go about it - is a definite plus.
     
  13. Volcre
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    Volcre Member

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    Ergh sorry, I meant in my post that in the Amulet of Samarkand, Nate is observed in the 3rd person. So it alternates between 1st person and 3rd person. Still, it will definitely help
     
  14. SRCroft
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    SRCroft Member

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    The comments that 1rst person POV changes are harder is very true. In third person you can switch from Omniscient to Limited and swap limiteds with each. 1rst person you will need to rely on scene change. Now if you do as Cogito says you can jump to 3rd and inject narrative voice--done poorly will jar the reader--done well can be great.

    Safest bet would be to stick with one characters perspective--break scene--come back with different characters perspective.
     
  15. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    It's not just a matter that multiple 1st person POVs are harder, it's that there isn't really a compelling reason why one would have to do it. You would want to write in a way that will make it easier for the reader to understand, I would think.
     
  16. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    I don't think multiple first person is a bad idea in general, it's just that you need to be very clear whose perspective you're portraying. One author who did multiple first person well is KA Applegate, in the Megamorphs books (part of the Animorphs series with a different format). The things she did were:

    a) changed between chapters, never within chapters (every chapter break meant a perspective switch)
    b) had a heading each time clearly indicating whose perspective it was
    c) had perspective characters who each had clearly distinct voices

    To me, first person has a different feel than third person. You can technically use either, but some stories just feel better as a first or third person story. I find in first person you tend to feel closer to the perspective character.

    I really recommend against portraying one character in first person and others in third person. I find that really confusing, because you also portray non-perspective characters in third person when your first person character is narrating. It gives me the feeling that the first person character is there but being very still and quiet, and I have to repeatedly remind myself that they're not present. Multiple first person is way better than mixing first and third.

    Opposites is not the same as antagonists. An antagonist is someone who works against the protagonist. The protagonist and antagonist can have any combination of personalities - in fact making the protagonist and antagonist very similar can serve a valuable purpose in some stories, either by helping them fight on equal footing or by hinting that one could've easily become the other. Two characters opposite in personality but on the same side are not antagonists to each other, they're just allies with different personalities.
     
  17. Wolfwig
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    Wolfwig Member

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    Both your points are well-put, Ettina.
     
  18. Wolfwig
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    Wolfwig Member

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    Check out The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. It's a successful debut told from two first-person points of view.
     

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