1. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    POV - why wouldn't this work?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by SwampDog, Apr 2, 2013.

    .
    I'm trying not to get hung up on point of view, particularly the apparent anathema of changing POV mid-sentence/paragraph, use section break, new chapter, keep it the same...

    a. As Ken walked into the bar, the convivial hubbub faded away. Typical insolent locals, he thought. But as their new vet, he'd need them on side as soon as possible.

    Vs.

    b. Ken looked up at his secretary. Thirty years old, unmarried, and not averse to giving him the come-on. One day he'd accept.
    'In the bottom drawer Sandra, please.'

    As she bent over, she felt his eyes caressing her. One day, she thought. One day.

    If (b.) doesn't work, why doesn't it?

    Just reading a Clive Cussler - POV all over the place, often mid-para., but it's easy to follow.
     
  2. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    Maybe it's a matter of taste, but it doesn't work for me - with the first sentence "Thirty years old, ..." we're in Ken's head, then with "She felt his eyes ..." we're in Sandra's. The change is too jarring.
     
  3. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    (b.) works for me as it is, as a micro story of a comparison between two points of view. But I'm not sure it would work the same for a longer story.
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I agree, given the small size of the except, which really only just contains the change of POV, it is jarring. Perhaps in a larger context, it might be less so. My question would be, what purpose does the change of POV serve at that particular point? The segment from Ken's POV has already alerted us to the fact that Sandra is interested, so her segment is redundant.

    In my own writing, I occasionally come up against a situation in which I struggle to determine whose POV to present. I may present different POVs at different points of time, but never within the same scene.
     
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  5. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    As Ed said, it could work in a larger context. As it is it becomes hard to follow and i would be inclined to drop the story after 3 or 4 more of this.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you want to use both povs, just make sure you don't ever have them appearing in the same paragraph...

    and changes of pov are generally signalled to the reader with a line break [a line between the paragraphs that has a single # placed in its center]
     
  7. Bagabon
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    Bagabon Banned

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    Head hopping can definitely be difficult, but I feel that if you create your own voice in third person omniscient, and speak the character's thoughts / what they see as if described by you the narrator, it can work a lot better. In a way, the narrator should have a voice of their own. I personally love third person omniscient as opposed to limited, as you can show what different characters are thinking. It is just very difficult to pull off, and especially difficult to pull off while having the reader really connect with the characters.

    Oh and most of all, do your best to describe everything by action, dialogue and description. You can say ken's eyes caressed her, and maybe mention that she looked back with a smile. This way, you're not head hopping but still portraying the same message.

    But I still maintain that you can - without line breaks - switch POVs in third person if you do it correctly. And when it's done less often, it is much less jarring. Do your best to avoid internal monologue, and then when you do use it, it won't seem confuse the reader as to who it is since it is spaced out. If one paragraph is ken's thoughts, and the next is the secretary, then the reader will soon be annoyed with all the switching back and forth.
     
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  8. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    I think Ed has hit the crux of the matter for me at this time. Relevancy. All other things being equal, that should curb any desire to head-hop and risk confusing the reader, and help me keep things simple with flow and train of thought.

    Cheers, all.
     
  9. twohappymonkeys
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    twohappymonkeys Member

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    I think b works great. I understand how some people might find it jarring, but I appreciate the flow - it feels more "poetic" to me, and makes for interesting reading. I'd use that form cautiously in a longer work, though. I could see a writer getting very bogged down in trying to make it work, and readers becoming frustrated. In a short story format, I could see it being used brilliantly. The style of short stories lends itself to un-convention.
     
  10. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I agree with Maia.
     
  11. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    I agree with Maia in that your best bet is to separate POV with paragraphs. However, that doesn't mean it's impossible to do otherwise. Frank Herbert would often switch POV mid-paragraph in Dune, and somehow that worked really well.

    Overall, just try to be consistent. If you switch POV like this only a few times in your story, then it might seem jarring to the reader, but if it happens all over the place they will probably be able to follow along just fine. That said, I personally think it's best to try to write the whole story entirely from one POV, showing your side characters' inner thoughts through their nonverbal actions. In your second draft, you can start to play around with POV to see what is most effective.
     
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