1. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    POV in a paragraph

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by CMastah, Jan 5, 2015.

    So here's the thing:

    I have paragraphs where the first sentence starts off from person A's POV,then the second sentence is in person B's POV and the third could be anywhere from person A-C POV. I most sharply noticed this issue in one paragraph where:

    First sentence: Person B chokes blood.
    Second sentence: Person A twists blade.
    Third sentence: Person B again.

    Ok, that's REALLY dumbing it down but I have more than one paragraph like this, is this fine?

    This section of the story is in person A's POV overall (if that helps things).

    (paragraph, plus FYI Keeva is the Kaltsir)

    The impaled savage clawed at the weapon and wheezed as it tried to breathe. Aristide twisted the blade and pushed it forward, which sent tremors through the Kaltsir. Keeva shook and then fell forward, and slid along Aristide's sword.
     
  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I take it the highlighted text is the verbatim paragraph?

    If so, it's not quite as bad as your summary...but it is a confusing mass of uncomfortable reading. YOU (the author) know who's doing what to whom, and you're quite happily slipping from a proper name to a description for the same character. By changing the focus as frequently as you have done, you're making it hard for a reader to follow.
    The impaled savage clawed at the weapon and wheezed as it he tried to breathe. Aristide twisted the blade and pushed it forward, which sent tremors through the Kaltsir. Tremors racked him as the blade was twisted in the wound, and thrust forward again. Keeva shook and then fell forward, and slid along Aristide's the sword.
    Does this work better?
     
  3. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    The paragraph doesn't seem to be clearly in anyone's POV. In this out of context state, it could be from the POV of a third character observing the fight.

    Just because a character is performing an action it doesn't make it their point of view. It's thoughts and feelings, things that only that character could know, that establish POV.

    The paragraph could be improved but headhopping isn't a problem here.
     
  4. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    To give some background on context:

    Aristide (female) is the POV character the section is in, she thinks of Kaltsirs (generally anything not human, so for ease of use, think orcs and goblins) as 'it' rather than 'he/she'. I know that people even think of animals in terms of 'he/she', but I was hoping to use the whole 'it' thing to REALLY get across how much she's dehumanized anything less than human (she's a very pro-human racist). She's referred to the two Kaltsirs in her section as 'creatures/savages/beasts' prior to this paragraph, and both Kaltsirs have spoken to each other and said each other's names (so the reader would know which is Keeva and which is Dakir (the other one who isn't mentioned in this paragraph)).
     
  5. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    On that basis, the part where Keeva is referred to as "it" isn't in Keeva's POV. I assume Keeva wouldn't refer to himself as "it"?
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2015
  6. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    Definitely, Keeva (and Dakir) would use he/she. The thing is, is that the entire section is in Aristide's POV, even the section where is starts 'the impaled savage', it starts that way because that's what she sees (I am having HUGE problems with POV because of this, I've even been forced to use 'she stared at/as' and 'she watched as' to make it clear that this is something she's seeing without actually saying 'she saw'). She (well, I technically) alternates between calling them creatures and using their names (although that's more because I doubt I can keep saying gender neutral words like 'savage' and creature' without confusing the reader).
     
  7. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    If there aren't any clues to the contrary, readers will generally assume you're in the POV you've already established. (I assume you've already established this is Aristide's POV in previous paragraphs.) I wouldn't assume you've randomly hopped to another character's POV during the course of this short paragraph.
    If you don't reinforce the POV over a longer period, it may feel like you've slipped back to a detached narrator POV, which can be a problem.
    A way to avoid that, without using filter words, is to think about how your POV character would react internally to the situations you've placed her in.
     
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  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    If this is cut from a bigger piece the context could make the pov clearer. But the trouble with it' as is' is that we don't get a sense of what Aristide is feeling. She's making sure the Kaltsir dies but what's going on with her emotions. This is where a few tells would be more than welcome. - The impaled savage clawed at the weapon and wheezed as he tried to breathe. Aristide, did not let it suffer, she twisted the sword and shoved it deeper. Tremors shook the Kalstir, before it slumped sliding down the shaft of the blade. Finished. Aristide let out a shaky breath. - Example.

    If you want to make the first sentence more gender neutral you might have to break it up to avoid that confusion with 'it'.
     
  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with plothog re. POV. I think you have some clarity issues in this passage, but not b/c of POV.
     
  10. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    How about:

    The impaled savage wheezed as it tried to breathe and clawed at the weapon (alternatively, adding a comma 'The impaled savage clawed at the weapon, and wheezed as it tried to breathe', if that keeps the original meaning). Aristide twisted and pushed the blade forward, sending tremors through the Kaltsir. Keeva shook and then fell forward, and slid along Aristide's sword.

    So long as the actual POV is clear in the section, it's fine to 'head hop' in the paragraph, right?

    I really didn't want to drop the use of 'it' from Aristide's perspective since her dehumanization of others is integral to her character, but I'm worried that I'll have no choice (since this isn't the first or worst paragraph to suffer from 'it' problems).
     
  11. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    The only possible head-hopping I see in that paragraph is the "it tried to breath" part, but really I don't think that's head hopping, either, as it's something that could be reasonably understood by observation.

    Head hopping isn't when you describe someone else's actions, it's when you mention their thoughts.

    Like:

    X set the remote down on the table. He wasn't in the mood for another fight about the stupid TV, not after the day he'd had. Y reached for the remote. She'd secretly been looking forward to watching the UFC match all week and this was going to be a great reward.

    (headhopping because the start is showing X's thoughts, and the end is showing Y's)

    It's not headhopping if:

    X set the remote down on the table. He wasn't in the mood for another fight about the stupid TV, not after the day he'd had. Y reached for the remote. She never admitted it, but she loved UFC and had probably been looking forward to the match all week.
     
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have a problem with the three different ways of referring to Keeva. When I first read the sample paragraph, I thought that three different creatures were being killed. And I do feel that the 'it' in your narration (as opposed to when Aristide actually speaks or you use (shudder) italicized thoughts) may cost more in confusion than it buys you. And, "tried to breathe" may be visible, but it "feels" like a head hop to me.

    Random rewrites that strike me as less confusing, one with the "it" retained, but in closer to literal thought:

    Keeva wheezed and clawed at the weapon. Aristide twisted and pushed the blade forward. Keeva shook, then fell forward and slid along the sword.

    Keeva wheezed and clawed at the weapon. Aristide growled in exasperation; why wouldn't it die? She twisted and pushed the blade forward. Keeva shook, then (finally!) fell forward and slid along the sword.
     
  13. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    Thanks for the advice guys....ehm....just out of curiousity, if I mentioned Keeva by name in each sentence, that's not going to reek of repetition like an ordinary word would, right (probably an extremely amateurish question to ask, but if I never ask, I never learn :p)?
     
  14. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is possible to use the same name too many times, but IMO (and I think it's not just my opinion) it's worse to eliminate it by using a different identifying phrase. ("Joe", "the boy", "the teenager", "the lanky youth") The solution is to find a rephrasing of the whole thing that lets you reduce the number of repetitions of the name. You may notice that I removed the reference in the second sentence, so that I only used the name twice instead of three times.
     
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  15. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Spot-on!
     

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