1. Admin
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    Admin Contributing Member

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    Perspective changes?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Admin, Aug 20, 2011.

    I want to know people's opinions on this idea:

    A book that switches from first to third person periodically based on the situation of the characters.

    Would this be a good idea or not? Any tips on how it can be executed? Should it be utilized in a major project? Should it be used often or only on special occasions? Etc. Etc.

    Add your own stuff as well.
     
  2. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    In the first draft of my WIP I used 1st person for one character and third for the other two, but that wouldn't be good in the final draft so then I rewrote it all to third. I could imagine one using first person to the current events and third for flashbacks or similar, but I can't tell if that has been used or if I'm just imagining. Neither if it would be a good idea, probably not ;) I'm not entirely sure in which way you mean to use this method, could you be a little more specific?
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Bad idea. Some authors use first person for one POV, and all others third person, but I don't really recommend that either.

    But changingf between first and third for any one character, don't.
     
  4. Mikeyface
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    Does the idea dictate something like that would need doing? You'd practically have to add in third person buffers to deal with switching from differing first person perspectives, but I just can't think of a valid reason to do so. It would read like a series of diaries more than a novel.

    Feels like you are trying to find a *big* idea for a novel (provided you were the one that posted the trilogy of trilogies topic the other day if my memory serves.) Just think of the story and jump in. Find your limits as an author instead of trying to find the limits of what a novel can do.
     
  5. Admin
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    Aha I suppose Mikeyface is right on one thing: I may be over-thinking this a little too much. I'll give an example of what I would intend on using it for.

    In first person, it is from kid A. Kid A runs the super-computer time machine while kids B and C travel through time. So during their time, it would be from his prospective. Third person would then be utilized during scenes where it centers on kids B and C when they have gone through time, since kid A stays behind to work the computer.
     
  6. Steve89
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    I think it can work as a way of showing a character distancing themselves from their actions. Chuck Palahniuk does this in Choke when the main character talks about his childhood, referring to himself as "the kid".

    I think it can only really work when used in a flash back or memory though, so it would be wise to do it sparingly.
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    That could work. I've read a few novels that include both first and third depending on who the characters are, and they were just fine. As with most stylistic choices in writing, it all comes down to how well you execute it.
     
  8. Admin
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    Thank you all for the advice, and Steve89 reads the right books. ;D
     
  9. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    I see no problem with changing viewpoint during the story. It has to be set off properly, by chapters, for example, so the reader can adjust. But if done well I think it can make the work more interesting. Don DeLillo, in his book Underworld, frequently shifts perspective. One of my favorite parts is actually written in second person.

    So go for it. Bend the rules, have fun. If it works it works, and if it doesn't, so what.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Bad advice to new writers who expect to sell the book to a publisher.

    There is a reason writers don't switch perspectives like this throughout a book - it doesn't work well at all.

    Yes, a master novelist MIGHT be able to make this work. B ut if this is so, why don't they? Do you think it never occurred to them to try it? On the contrary, they have learned NOT to do it.

    No, the reason is that it is confusing, or at best unsettling, for the reader.
     
  11. Admin
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    Any suggestions on how I can fix my dilema then, Cogito? Seeing as the main character doesn't do the physical time traveling. I suppose I could make it a completely third person novel, but that would take away something personal from the main character. Also, considering I'm fifteen and still actually learning the devices of the English language, I am not set on getting anything published. Ever. Just a major goal, to write something epic that I can at least share with one other person. :D
     
  12. The-Joker
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    Admin if your goal is not to get published, then go for it. Like others have said, it has been done before and can work.

    If you think you might want to get this published later on then your chances woud be greatly increased if you stuck to third person for all characters. Having an obscure plot is great. Employing an obscure structure to the novel is not.
     
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  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Third person can be nearly as intimate as first person, by taking a POV close enough to access that character's thoughts. By sticking to third person throughout, you can vary the "distance" at need without disrupting the flow.

    Nevertheless, I'd recommend against overindulging in mind eavesdropping. Whether first or third person writing, too much time spent inside the skull becomes claustrophobic.

    This may help: What's Your Point (of View)?
     
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  14. Admin
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    Sounds good. I think I might try it by breaking it into chapters. If I find I don't like it down the road, I'll just re-write all of the parts in third person.
     
  15. Admin
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    Thank you Cogito. :D
     
  16. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    New writers who expect to sell their book to a publisher have more issues than just point of view.

    I know why it isn't done, but if the writer is looking to experiment with his storytelling, and has a reason for shifting the perspective, then he should at least try. The worst that can happen is it doesn't work out.
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    An experiment is purposeful, not random. Before you van meaningfully experiment, you have to be able to create a control case.

    In the case of writing, that means learn to write in observance with convention FIRST. That way you learn the basics, and your experiments will show you the reasons for the conventional approach.

    So I disagree. The worst that can happen is that you achieve nothing and learn nothing.
     
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  18. Steve89
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    Yes sir!
     

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