1. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    Point of view

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Magnatolia, Mar 28, 2014.

    Hey all,

    For my story I'm writing I have two protaganists, well one main one and a secondary one that is with him most of the time. I spend a lot of time in his pov, and go into hers occasionally. Also a bit of omniscient? ie. narrator style.

    Is it okay to occasionally jump into a supporting/background character? Such as this example, or is this omniscient?

    'Carl grinned. He loved nothing more than seeing some action, and things had been pretty quiet on that front for a while. Not that he was complaining; nobody had died in a while either.'

    I tend to write a lot using words like they when there's a group of people. Does this fall into the category of reminiscent?

    Thanks!
     
  2. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I adhere to a few pov rules but this is not the only way to do things by any means. Never swap pov mid-scene. Scene is in one person's pov (either 3rd person limited or first person, I never use omniscient) so no 'head hopping'. If you have a group of people talking in a scene, you should show the thoughts of only one - the pov character. Omniscient pov is when the reader has free access to thoughts of everybody on stage. It reduces opportunity for tension and subtext as well as identification (so it's a no-no in crime fiction and romance for example). In life we only ever experience one true pov -our own. We identify better with one character at a time, I think.

    In the next scene pov can change to another character. My rule (loosely speaking) is to have one main pov character (protagonist) that gets about 70-80% of book time. Second pov gets up to 15-20% and third gets maybe 5-10%. Or similar.

    Not sure whether you're referring to flashbacks to the past during internal monologue, but that's fine, it adds to characterisation as long as it's not overdone.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
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  3. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    My favourite authors write in third person omniscient, and so do I for the most part. Complex plots and large, wide ranging scenes make first person very difficult (not impossible).

    There is no obligation of the part of the author to reveal everything that everyone knows. The reader can be guided through the appropriate POVs just as the camera only reveals what is necessary to the plot in a film or TV show even though it is not literally looking through the eyes of the character.

    However, first person seems to be the flavour of the day, or so I'm told in forums such as this.
     
  4. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Bryan Romer : Alternative to omniscient pov isn't only the first person pov, but also third person limited, with multiple point of view characters. That is by far the most common pov type in contemporary fiction, and presents the perfect way to approach telling complex stories with multiple subplots.
     
  5. dbesim
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    dbesim Contributing Member

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    Hi magnatolia,
    Just to make things clearer, 'omniscient narrator' is aware of all people's point of view, and all events taking place beyond their viewpoint. You can only be an omniscient narrator in the third person, however there isn't a limit to the number of invaluable books written in the first person, either.

    If you're writing about the perspective of only one or two characters, then it is not omniscient, but limited. Third person limited might be what you're doing, if it's from written from Carl's perspective.

    Reminiscient, means something is being remembered.
     
  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    If you read any of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan novels, he changes POVs incessantly, almost always in 3rd person limited. In The Sum of All Fears, for example, he even incorporated his lessons on nuclear weapon-making into 3rd person limited narrative. Ditto for his much less voluminous descriptions of viral infections in Executive Orders. But the main POV is always Jack Ryan's.
     
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  7. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm aware of third person limited, but like first person, I find it too "limiting" for action oriented stories. I look at each scene as something like a chessboard. Like the chess pieces, each character has a motive, an objective, and their own capabilities, and it is the constant converging and interweaving of their thoughts and feelings within the same scene that creates the tension and interest.

    One reason why third person limited is popular is that it is harder to confuse the reader about whose POV is actually being used at any particular moment than third person omniscient, while at the same time being less rigid than first person.

    But fashion and the fact that writers may be tempted to "head hop" badly is not a reason to avoid third party omniscient.
     
  8. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Bryan Romer : I didn't suggest that fashion or lack of skill are the reason to avoid omniscient pov. Anyway, like I said, everyone chooses a pov, and if omniscient is your choice, good luck to you. :)
     
  9. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    No you didn't :)

    But they come up a lot in the advice people give when discussing POV and explaining why third person omniscient is not popular (in addition to it being disliked by some publishers).
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're going with an omniscient narrator, then I see no problem with switching to a less important character.

    But I am feeling a lot of the narrator in this paragraph, and not much Carl. Have you considered putting it in something closer to Carl's voice, even though of course he's not speaking? As in something like:

    Carl grinned. Action! Been too damn quiet lately. Of course, there were advantages to boredom; he hadn't had to dig a grave lately, either.
     
  11. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    @ChickenFreak That's awesome! Thanks so much for that example. I'm seeing that I sometimes go into narrator when I really just need to trim the fat. I think for some reason writing things like Action! Been too damn quiet lately doesn't come to mind for me. I always resort to something like He loved nothing more than a good bit action, although all this sitting around was dulling his senses. By trimming it and staying with Carl (thing is, too that Carl is a secondary character, but is it okay to jump into his POV for a paragraph). So a rewrite of the above could be Action! About damn time. His legs ached and he was pretty sure his shot was rusty with no practice for days.

    Or, if I decided to stay with Thomas POV (before and after paragraphs) could I write Thomas smiled at the excitment on Carl's face. Poor kid had been hanging around the house bugging everyone. It would do him some good to stretch his legs for a bit.

    My take on omniscient narrator is that I tend to subconsciously, I think, use it as I for some reason have this belief that sentences like what I wrote in my example above are bad, even though they make perfect sense.
     

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