1. zilly
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    zilly Senior Member

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    Odd switch in point of view

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by zilly, Sep 13, 2010.

    I've made many posts here already (including another today) about a novel my best friend and I are writing. We are very close to being finished, but there is one particular chapter that I'd like to completely rewrite.

    The problem is that the story is narrated in first person. It's told in the past tense, but narrator only ever reveals what she knew at a particular time. So, there are never any sentences like: "Oh, this happened and I thought it meant this, but latter I would figure out that it didn't." I'm sure that there is a literary term for this point of view, but I'm unfamiliar with it, so I apologize.

    Anyway, the events that happen in this chapter are the most important events in the story. The problem is that the narrator wasn't there for any of them. Basically, something happens to arguably the main character of the story (not the narrator). Three of the other characters of the story each see different parts of the event and latter inform the narrator. The narrator does not witness and is not involved in any of this.

    To fix this, we decided to write this chapter as if the narrator were looking back on all the things that had happened during the day and telling the story of what happened, which is fine, but it's still a shift. I've been reading a lot about this topic and it seems that this is almost always a bad idea.

    The story is distinct in that it is completely absurd and so we've written it in a type of language and style that suits that. One of the ways we accomplished this is by giving each chapter a distinct flavor, so to speak. Each chapter is told in a distinct way, for example, one chapter would seem as though it belongs in a detective book and another is a dream and seems like it is a fantasy book and so on.

    One of the things that we have known since starting this story is that our audience was severely limited by default of it being such an absurd story and the way we would tell it. That being said, I don't think this shift is a big deal; however, I would like to change it.

    What I want to do is tell the chapter as a frame story. I want to have the three characters tell their story in their point of view, which would mean the type of language used for each section would be entirely different from the rest of the book although it would still retain its first person past tense view. I think this would make for the most entertaining chapter in the book, but I'm worried about making such an odd change in the point of view.

    Do you have any suggestions? This is the most important chapter in the book, so we want to make sure this shift isn't going to be too big of a deal.

    Thanks,
     
  2. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    This sounds fine to me. They can each narrate the story in first person to the narrator and each story can be under quotation marks.

    A slightly realistic format will be to use interview/interrogation type dialogues between the narrator and each one of the three chars. They can reveal their story as they are asked questions about the incident.

    I am not sure about drastic changes in style in each chapter. But then I have to read the story to actually know if it's working or not.
     
  3. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    First, I think your approach to writing whole the story sounds great. Especially giving each chapter a distinct genre though it is still written in first person.

    Tell it as you have said. Write it in first person through different characters' POV. I don't think this is too odd of a shift especially if your whole book has been written in different styles. If you need further help, PM me.
     
  4. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    I'm not sure I've understood what you're trying to accomplish but you can have a character tell a story in whatever point of view he wishes without that being a pov switch.

    As long as it remains clear at all moments that it is the character who's telling the story, and you keep the underlying original point of view.
     
  5. Horizon Noise
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    Horizon Noise Member

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    It can work (Iain Banks or Will Self come to mind as two authors who have used it to extremes) although you would have to work hard to make them come together as one story and not appear like three different ones. I don't know your intentions but if you're looking at publication I'd guess that no agent or publisher would look at a first novel with such a structure, you can only really get away with it when you're already well-known with a defined readership.
     
  6. zilly
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    zilly Senior Member

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    I actually really like how this chapter turned out since it gives so much room to develop the characters. However, it just seems so odd in the middle of the story to have this weird change in point of view. I'm taking of having the narrator take the tale that each character narrates and tell them in a convoluted manner so that the narrator is pretending to present a case to a jury.

    Basically, the narrator tells the story in such an absurd and sarcastic way that she appears to be delusional, so she she's always pretending to be or do something. It's kind of weird, but I'm thinking that it will fit right in.

    Any thoughts?

    Thank you.
     
  7. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    Perhaps you might want to break the awkwardness by having the second POV just break in for a short time at the beginning of the chapter. That way, it won't seem so odd when the shift appears in the middle of the chapter.
     
  8. zilly
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    zilly Senior Member

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    That's how it is right now. It's just one tale told after the other. If I were going to do it differently, I would just have the characters run up to her and tell her their stories individually, but this way it allows them to narrate a lot of things that they wouldn't actually say in dialogue, if that makes sense.
     

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