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  1. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Pov question

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by GuardianWynn, Aug 5, 2015.

    If I have a scene with a girl running away from the police and have it in first person then switch POV to the police do I need to keep the first person POV? Or can I switch to third person?

    I plan to go back and forth. Such as her running and leaving a building and then switching scene to the police arriving then to her next moment. I figured switching POV style with character might be fitting?

    Sorry if this is a stupid question.
     
  2. Ivana
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    Ivana Contributing Member

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    Well if you change POVs through the story than I guess you can switch between a girl and a policeman... But if that's not the case in the rest of your story, it could be confusing and difficult to follow... Also I'm not sure about switching from first to third person.
    What's the POV in the rest of the story?
     
  3. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally, I hate when writers switch between first and third person. It gets confusing, seeming like the original first-person character is narrating what the third-person character is doing. But that's purely my preference. I've seen it done in novels all the time.

    It's your story -- do what you want! :)
     
  4. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    The idea here wasn't exactly a book but a short story. Though I could probably include the concept in a book.

    The issue I am thinking. Is I want to include the drama and concept of both characters. Any more proper way to do that?
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Of course you can. You can finds books on the shelf at Barnes & Noble that do just that - switch between first and third person POVs as they switch between characters. There are even some that switch between first, second, and third person POVs as they switch between characters.
     
  6. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is it a good approach though? Or is it like the lazy approach? Sorry I am sort of bad at this.
    Thanks for the feedback.
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The approach isn't good or bad in and of itself, it just comes down to how you handle it. It makes sense to me that if you've got a main character in first person that you want the reader to be the closest to, and mot heavily invested in, then other viewpoint characters would appear in third person. If the others appear in first person, you'd have to develop a strong voice for them, and there is no reason to do so in this case. Third person lets you move to those other viewpoints characters without establishing the strong voice people like to see in a first person point of view.

    So, I think it is fine. Keeping them both in first person can also be done, but that's probably more likely to confuse readers than a transition to another POV.
     
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  8. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're wanting to switch between characters, can I ask why you're not simply writing the whole piece in 3rd person omniscient? That's the usual way. It will be easier on you and the reader.
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    The most effective way I've seen to switch POVs is using 3rd person limited (for example, Tom Clancy did that in all of his Jack Ryan novels), but I see no reason why switching between 1st and 3rd can't work. However, I generally prefer chapter breaks to switch between 1st and 3rd, as it can be a bit jarring, and if there is going to be a lot of switching, that might be awkward.
     
  10. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Because I want the main character to get a super close up. Like how 1st person can. I wrote the scene earlier today. Funny enough it can out a lot more natural than I expected. Partly because the scenes outsides this characters pov were quite brief. Lol
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    How is it easier on the reader? This assumes a pretty low level of competence for the reader, whereas in reality readers are smart.
     
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  12. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm a reader, and I'm as thick as pig shit.

    And why do you think the vast majority of novels are written with either of the two viewpoints, rather than switching between?
     
  13. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I think some writers mistakenly assume readers are stupid. Presumably, adult readers are smarter and more experienced than teens, but for some reason you find a lot of diversity in things like POV in teen fiction. One popular teen series switches between a first person POV character and multiple third person POV characters. No one seems to have a problem with it. Nick Sagan's YA series that starts with Edenborn even throws a second person POV character into the mix. Doesn't seem to trip anyone up.

    I've read many books that do this sort of thing. I wasn't thrown from my chair. I didn't stare, slack-jawed, at the page trying to figure out what the author was doing. The idea that readers can't follow this sort of thing is nonsense. If anything, it's a hangup of writers who have spent too much of their lives reading nothing but variations on the same thing.
     
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  14. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Admittedly I have been the person staring at a page blankly. Though I think it was the writers fault. Because he went a page without speech tags. I thought I keep them straight then suddenly the dude said the wrong he. The scene only had one boy and girl. I went back and counted to only discover yeah. It was like he gave it no speech tags did a new line for the same speaker. Lol. Never could quite figure that out. Lol. But that is a different issue.

    Though I wouldn't even know where to begin on writing a scene in second person. Lol
     
  15. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    That comes down to execution. It's the writer's job to do well whatever she decides to do. For a POV switch, a section break is enough for a reader to follow along with what you're doing. Some writers will switch POV without such a break, but I think that has to be done much more carefully. If you use at least a section break, or even a chapter break, between POV switches, you aren't going to confuse anyone.
     
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  16. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, and if you read every single piece of fiction that's ever been published, you'd read a damn sight more that don't.
     
  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Irrelevant. The OP asked whether this can be done. Instances of it not being done have no bearing on that question. The fact that it has been done successfully many times is empirical proof of the answer to the OP's question.

    But I'm starting to come around to the idea you presented, above, that you're thick.
     
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  18. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yay, arguments!

    To the original question: yes, it can and has been done. Whether or not it should be is all a matter of opinion.

    Since you're writing a short story and not a novel, I'd recommend following one character only. They are short pieces and switching between povs in such a short work could be distracting.
     
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  19. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    Agreed. And in my opinion, no it should not. Switching POV's is a terrible idea, hence the reason it's very rarely done. You'll gain very little benefit from doing so, while running the risk of confusing your readers.

    @Steerpike It seems to me that “Edenborn” is a pretty bad example of switching POV’s. It’s obvious throughout whose POV we are in, as we are told immediately preceding any block of text. Of course that will work. But, to my mind, that’s actually a very lazy, unintelligent style of writing. I don't want to be spoon fed my characters. If the characters are strong enough to warrant having the story told from their POV, surely we shouldn’t need to be told who they are; we should automatically know via their voice, and their thoughts and feelings.

    What is this "...popular teen series switches between a first person POV character and multiple third person POV characters"? I'd be really interested to know how they did this in a satisfactory way.
     
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  20. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    It comes down to whether you can do it well, which is what most all of these sorts of questions boil down to. In this case, however, it is pretty easy to do it well so long as you aren't trying something like shifting POV without any kind of break to cue the reader.

    If you look at the books where this is done, the author doesn't employ any special tricks or do anything difficult to make it work. They simply provide a chapter break (most commonly) or at least a section break, and after that break just start writing the new POV. Typically, a cue as to the identity of the new viewpoint character is provided quickly.

    As long as you're providing the break and identifying the viewpoint character, it isn't rocket science, and I suspect that the vast majority of readers have seen this sort of thing before and aren't at all likely to be confused by it.
     
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  21. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'switching POVs is a terrible idea.' If you mean switching between certain types of POV within one story, you might have a point. It could be a bit strange going from first to third (even to second) and back and forth ...although I would never say it's a terrible idea. Just an idea. It's up to the writer to make it work.

    But surely ...surely ...you're not suggesting that every book should have only one POV character, and that multiple POVs are 'very rarely done?'
     
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  22. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I think Edenborn (or Idlewild, which is the one I believe has second person POV) would have worked just as easily without explicit POV cue. I think Sagan just put that there for stylistic reasons, not because he thought the reader would be lost without it. The POV characters are readily apparent from the text itself.

    I've actually read more than one work or series of works that makes the shift from first to third person, depending on which character's viewpoint you are in. The one that came to mind, above, is the House of Night series by PC and Kristin Cast. They've sold ten million books worldwide, according to Wikipedia, so I think we can stipulate that they're popular. The main character is Zoey, and her viewpoint is presented in first person. The other viewpoint characters in the series are in third person. One can argue the merits of the books as a whole separately, but they're not confusing by any stretch (though apparently later in the series, the authors add more and more viewpoint characters, which could annoy some readers).
     
  23. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Hopefully, that wasn't the suggestion. Most of the books I read have more than one viewpoint character.
     
  24. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Okay, off the top of my head...

    Tom Clancy in his Jack Ryan series (from The Hunt for Red October to The Bear and the Dragon) shifts among multiple POVs in 3rd person limited, using section breaks for scenes close in time and chapter breaks to denote passage of time.

    Kristin Hannah in The Nightingale shifts between a single POV in 1st person and multiple POVs in 3rd person limited. Shifts among 3rd person limited POVs occur with scene breaks while shifts between 1st and 3rd are done with chapter breaks. This is because the 1st person narration takes place in the present while all 3rd person narrations take place in the past.

    Elizabeth Kostova in The Swan Thieves shifts among three 1st person POVs, each shift done via new chapters, clearly labeled. IMHO, her voice differentiation among her 1st person narrators was not sufficient (a risk when doing multiple 1sts).

    Anthony Doerr in All the Light We Cannot See shifted among 3rd person limited POVs, primarily two with a third near the end. Always using chapter breaks to do so.

    Christina Baker Kline in The Orphan Train shifted between one 1st person POV (past) and one 3rd person limited POV (present), using chapter breaks.

    All of the above were done with a considerable degree of commercial success (Ms. Kostova's voicing difficulties notwithstanding).
     
  25. Lea`Brooks
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    I stopped reading those books the second they started incorporating the first/third character switches. It annoyed me to no end. lol
     

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