1. Subject1157
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    Subject1157 New Member

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    Point of View Shifts

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Subject1157, Mar 13, 2012.

    I recently finished a reference book that explained about the best ways in shifting point of views and I only just now grasped it, therefore I'm going back through a particular novel, I had considered finished, and fix my point of view shifts. Well now I've run into a problem and I've been searching all over the internet, re-reading my guide books but can't find a solution. I thought someone here might be able to help me. I'll try to explain it best as I can, so bare with me!

    In my novel I have two main points a view and one of the main point of view characters has a couple of scenes with another minor character. In one particular scene these two are talking and the main point of view character makes a reference (in dialogue) to her past, but it is the minor character who reflects on this. It does sort of go from his views, to some narration and then back to him.

    My question is, is this considered shifting points of views? If so, my guidebooks are telling me I'm doing it wrong as you shouldn't shift points of view in the same scene. I've tried thinking of a way to rewrite it but this past information on the main character is important, but I can't have the main character think of it or it looks like she's feeling sorry for herself and that just ruins the character.

    I did come across one site talking about point of views and they explained how important it is to keep one point a view per scene but that there can be an exception if there is no other solution. Would this scene I’ve written be one of those exceptions or no? Any help would be very much appreciated!
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I was writing it I would make that scene omniescent and make yourself the narrator. Make it very clear that is what you are doing. The priority with POV is that it is not confusing to the reader.

    The other alternative is to show the other persons emotions by their reactions and interactions. The Bookshelf Muse has an emotion and setting thesaurus that can be a very useful reference for giving the emotions and feeling (although direct thoughts aren't possible) of the non POV character.
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It doesn't matter all that much. Ernest Hemingway shifted points of view in For Whom the Bell Tolls whenever he felt like it, even writing a paragraph or two from the POV of a horse. The rules aren't hard and fast.
     
  4. CheddarCheese
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    CheddarCheese Contributing Member

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    It seems to me that a Third-person omniscient point of view would best suit this scene. You seem to be switching back and forth between omniscient and limited. Is there something stopping you from simply making that entire scene in an omniscient narrative?
     
  5. Subject1157
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    Subject1157 New Member

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    Yeah I think I realized after reading about point of views that I have been switching between the two. Is that bad? Can you switch or would it be better to decide on one?
     
  6. CheddarCheese
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    CheddarCheese Contributing Member

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    In my own opinion, I would stick to just one point of view per scene. But as minstrel stated above, if you can write a good, clear, concise story with multiple switches in point of view, then try it out! It's only bad if the writing itself is bad.
     
  7. Subject1157
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    Subject1157 New Member

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    Right. I'm thinking this is the reason why I'm having a hard time, I've switched and it's causing confusion. I'm going to have to decide which one I like the best.
     
  8. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    The reason it probably sounds like head hopping is because you, the author, have violated your own rules.

    See when you begin a story you are establishing a character, a point of view, and the distance of that point of view (called psychic distance). If your story / scene begins in a Limited point of view, that is the rule of the 'story', and so when you dip into another, non-MC, it jars the reader and appears to be head hoppish.

    So a little foresight is necessary. If you know ahead of time that you'd like to hear both character's thoughts, you're better off establishing an omniscient point of view, and techniques for that can be googled. Suffice to say, it's tricky.
     
  9. Subject1157
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    Subject1157 New Member

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    ....
     
  10. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Shifting viewpoints can be done, but for beginners like you and me it is best to stick to a viewpoint per scene. Otherwise it can become very confusing and with it goes the trust you want to built with your readers. Going omniscent is a way out of your problem, but remember doing so means giving up the intimacy factor between the chars and the readers.
     
  11. marcuslam
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    marcuslam Senior Member

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    If you begin a story and make it clear that you're writing from an omniscient perspective, it's fine. When you suddenly change from limited to omniscient, that's when readers become distracted. Limited perspectives are easier to manage. They also seem to be used more commonly, too. Whatever works for your book, though.
     
  12. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    Omniscient can achieve the same depth as a Limited POV, but it requires a careful manipulation of psychic distance. Think of omniscience as a telepathic camera lens (hear me out). At the wide end, the narrator sees everything in the word, but cannot necessarily hear thoughts from this great distance. The lens zooms in on a character more and more and we are in his head and can hear his thoughts. At this point, if the narrator wishes to hear a different character's thoughts, first he must zoom out of the character he is currently in, and then focus on the other character. How is that zooming out achieved? Through neutral description -- description which does not carry the bias of any one character.

    Psychic distance and Point of view are interrelated. Actually, point of view doesn't even make much sense without it.
     
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  13. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    This. Best description I have ever heard.
     
  14. Subject1157
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    Subject1157 New Member

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    (ignore)...
     

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