1. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    One pov per chapter rule

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by SeverinR, Oct 17, 2011.

    I am writing the final fight scene for my book.
    I have not had a problem with 1 pov/chapter, until this point.

    Eight characters and one is added at the beginning of the fight.

    MC is shot at with a crossbow, Shielded by #2, #3 charges to attack the shooter, dragonet attacks too.
    etc.

    For the fight scene it is pretty normal, but two characters have ultra-dramatic parts that will tie together in the end. I actually thought I would be jumping from POV to POV.

    During the fight one character is hit with a cross bow, and sees her dead dragon flying in the sky, rather then the roof of the castle.
    not long after a character is killed and his dragon goes into a rage.

    Looking over the battle I can see two pov in this scene. The normal third person(I think) with a quick jump into the character that thinks she is dying.

    I think I could show how she acts, but could not share the information of why she isn't suppose to die yet.
    Her dragon tells her there is another that will need her.

    Does jumping into a character for a short period in the climax of the story work, or is it almost never good to split the pov in a chapter?

    I know the rule, but rules are meant to be broken.

    Maybe I'll just write it both ways and see which I like.
     
  2. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    I sort of think I follow what's going on. If you skip POV, you need a break, but you don't have to make great jumps in time and space. You can stay right there, but continue on with the next character. Wouldn't that work? Other than that, if it's just a small part, what's wrong with the original POV character witnessing how this other character reacts? Or how about just letting the character share why she isn't supposed to die yet after the fact?

    I wouldn't switch without some sort of break, though. Rules might be meant to be broken, but don't break it just because you want to get around it, especially for just one little part.
     
  3. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I don't see a problem with it. Many authors do it. R. A. Salvatore comes to mind. Just make sure the POV shift is needed and the reader can tell there is a shift. Don't just flow paragraph to paragraph jumping back and forth between heads.
     
  4. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    There's no particular rule about that although personally I have one POV per chapter (with a switch at each chapter.) However you can feel free to do it however you like. Also if it's a very big fight scene perhaps it could cover more than one fight scene?
     
  5. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    I've seen it, too, but the author usually puts the blank line or the three stars (or, rather, the publication house inserts whatever they insert). I've only ever seen a switch in POV when the book does it often, not just a one-off. Do authors really do it only once?

    I agree there has to be a really obvious tell. Some key word or something.
     
  6. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    If I do it, I will need to make it an obvious switch.

    Bolt glances off armor, sword smash here, bite here, crossbow bolt hits,
    look at the pretty blue sky, and there is Monsel flying.

    Like shifting into first gear when driving on the freeway.

    Its towards the end of the fight, maybe I could write it so it is a part of the recovery, but the purpose for being alive happens at the end of the fight.

    Maybe even better have the scene start from her point of view until she is seeing the dragon circling where the ceiling should be, then go back to the standard pov. The character already has told the MC she believes she is going to die in this fight, so the reader will know there is a reason why the pov changes, or guess why.

    So the chapter opens with her pov and then switches back to third person when she collapses and the information that foreshadows the final conflict of the battle is stated.
     
  7. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    There really is a rule about one POV per chapter? Man, am I in trouble... :eek:

    Just make sure there's an obvious break between POVs and you'll be fine - as long as the reader can tell there's a switch.
     
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  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Shadowwalker - you and me, both! Of course, we have lots of company. My favorite popular author example is Tom Clancy. In fact, in some of his novels, I find that the closer the action gets to the climax, the more frrquently the POV changes. All changes are signalled to the reader by a space between the old paragraph and the new. Also, the first sentence after the change makes it clear to the reader that the POV has changed.
     
  9. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    In manuscript format, one should use a centered pound sign "#" (that translates to the three stars in the book) or white space for the scene break or POV shift.

    Not sure I understand your question though. Do you mean authors only have one POV switch per chapter? Sure, they can have that or they can have half a dozen or more. There should be a break of some kind at a POV switch, but I don't think there is a limit. Still, one might be careful not to have too many POV shifts per chapter. Personally, I never liked the fight scenes in books where the author focused upon one character for a short time, and then jumps to the character out of sight for two swings of the sword and then back to the original character or to a third character for a crazy flip-twist maneuver, and then on to another character hacking away at enemies. All of that can be shown or explained from a single POV quiet easily.

    POV shifts, imo, need to have an important reason, and the death of a character can be considered an important reason in that regard. Or in the above example, if the two swings of the sword or the flip-twist acrobatic maneuver actually tipped the scales of the overall battle, or got the character killed, then it's more important and has a reason.
     
  10. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    No, I get the pound sign. I use that. And I've read books where the author switches in the middle of the scene (no stars or blank line, just a cue to the reader), but the author does it often enough to let the reader know that it's a thing they do. I've just never seen it done only once or twice. My question was if authors really do it that infrequently in a book. Seems to me it wouldn't be a good idea to do it only once or twice, but I'm no Salvatore.

    Personally, I prefer to limit myself to only one POV per chapter or sub-chapter. Call it constrained writing, but it's one of those limitations that makes you think about how you're writing.
     
  11. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah R.A. Salvatore does this all the time in his Legend of Drizzt series. Most of the time its accompanied with 3 stars. Once you understand when a new PoV is coming the whole thing really flows together.

    The reason its usually advised to have new chapters or have these indicators is to help the reader know who we are seeing things through.

    My advice is to keep it very limited as to who your PoV are. I wouldnt recommend giving all eight or nine characters there own PoV during this fight, but one or three isnt to hard. Though if PoV have only changed at each Chapter, then it might be a bit jarring for readers.

    Good luck with the story and whatever you decide to do. :)
     
  12. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    there's three of us. I have used two pov's throughout the entire novel, never more than two per chapter I think, but I use a scene break for each pov-switch. Actually I have read zillions of books who does that, so I don't think it's an issue...
     
  13. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    I read many books that switch POV's all the time. You just need to break it up with a few lines so it is obvious. You really don't need to stay with one POV per chapter.
     
  14. TheWritingWriter
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    TheWritingWriter Senior Member

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    I always thought that alternating POVs showed lack of talent on the writer's part, however, whatever floats your boat. If it conveys the story and atmosphere that you need it to, then by all means do it. Experiment with it, like you said write both and choose which one you like better. When you face this problem next time you'll know what to do.
     
  15. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Wait, I'm under the impression that the OP is asking about changing POV without any break. If you want a break to switch POV, it's totally fine. Every author does that.
     
  16. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Care to elucidate?
     
  17. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Care to elucidate?



    How does one delete a post, anyway? (No idea why it showed up twice...)
     
  18. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    It has been doing this to everybody, it is the forums fault. Not yours.
     
  19. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    lol That explains my confusion with your question earlier. Different impressions. :)
     
  20. midjuneproject
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    midjuneproject New Member

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    From what you are saying, I am going to assume you mean a first person perspective that you are looking to switch. So far every chapter has been written from the perspective of a particular character in the first person. A good way to do what you want, and unite the rest of the book to some extent might be to take the final part and make it third person omniscient. It can achieve what you want and still make sense with in the context.
    There are far more arty ways to go about it, but they tend to be confusing, and certainly not conducive to an action fantasy setting.
     
  21. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    My book is written third person, but when the character is severely wounded I switch to her, or since I modified it, I will switch to her at the beginning of the fight(since she can see everything that the third person pov could see) and leave her when she can no longer see the battle at hand.

    I was thinking I have read many books that do change pov at times. Not just at chapter breaks.

    I think it should be restrained, but if used properly it can be done.
     
  22. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have also read books that don't use a scene break to switch pov, and that, IMHO is a little confusing, especially when they change pov without warning like 6 times within 4 pages. I would advice against that. it makes you need to go back and check whos head your in all the time=annoying. It wouldn't make me put the book down, it's just irritating.
     

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