1. B-Ware
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    B-Ware New Member

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    POVs help me PLEASE!!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by B-Ware, Dec 11, 2009.

    So I searched and searched this forum but didn't find anything that asked or answered this particular question. (sorry if I overlooked it)

    So i'm writing a story that involves over 72 characters "each has a certain role in the story" and since the story is about a fantasy world/dimension with different races, higher beings and so on i've decided to have multiple pov's to have a better range of discriptions. The problem i'm having is that I know I will have more than 6 pov's, and I was wondering if that would be too much? If not, how should I introduce new characters POV's? Say for instance I start my story with my main protagonist's view and I want to switch to another protagonist's veiw (who also has a very important role in the story aswell) should I then switch back to the main protagonist before introducing another character's pov?

    EX: 4 characters *Note that these are not the actual characters in my story* (Bill(Protagonist) Jaden Phil Death)

    The story begans with Bill at war with the antagonist's army, and that chapter tells about the war and so on.

    Jaden and Bill no nothing about one another yet, but Jaden is the right hand man to the Antagonist, and will be the vessel for his discription.

    Phil is on a different planet and will later trip into a hole "or something" and fall on Bill's planet only to find out hes of very importance

    Death is a very important person to the king aswell and will introduce lots of new characters that will join to stop the army
    Now I know that may sound alittle "whack" but I can't tell my actual story so I created one with almost the same tricky concept, accept I will probably have more POVs. How would I introduce all of these POVs, if even possible?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    POV changes should ordinarily only occur at scene transitions. But I would certainly limit the number of POV characters drastically. Preferably, to the minimum set of characters that are present for all the important scenes.

    Your reader has to get enough of a feel for each POV character to identify with him or her, and that takes time and exposure. The more POV characters you have, the more adept you must be as a writer to make each one distinct yet identifiable to the reader.

    As for the total number of characters, each one must be shaped and made real to the reader, in proportion to that character's importance to the story. The peasant girl whose only role is as a witness to the passage of a fleeing foe needs very little shaping. But the companion and advisor to the main character, who ends up making the ultimate sacrifice to save her, needs to be very well defined and developed.

    Your skill at creating unique and interesting characters will set the upper limit on how many characters you can populate yor novel with. But in no event should you create one more character beyond what is needed to tell the story.
     
  3. B-Ware
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    B-Ware New Member

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    wow ty Cogito, everything you said in that comment i've thought to myself but now that someone has told me I feel like i'm on the right track..I guess I just needed verifacation. I don't know any writers "on a personal level" my mom writes alittle but shes not published and it's just a hobby for her so I sometimes get nervous about making certain decisions with my story.

    All of my characters have backgrounds, special characteristics, special personallities that really explains the planet. I spent almost 2yrs on character development "been drawing and writing about these characters since I was 7" just placing them in different environments, writting little stories about how they would react to certain things, and now they're so tied in with the entire story that I can't exclude more than 3 of them or the planet's history looses a HUGE chunk of it's discription. Many of them are just encounters "mostly used to give the reader information" because i'm writing in first person view and I don't want my main character to appear that "wise" his lack of knowledge is a key factor in the events that take place futher along. After I read your comment, I immedatly pulled out some paper and began narrowing down my number of POVs "I got down to 3" now I see it's just a matter of dividing information between the 3 main veiws so that 1 character doesn't seem to "know it all" ya know? I have to somehow explain everything about this new world without being too boreing or narrow.

    My question is, should I place the characters name "who's pov will be shown" in the chapter title? And if so, could you show me an example of how that's done, thanks:D
     
  4. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi B-Ware, welcome to the forum.

    I admire your ambition and your enthusiasm for your concept. It takes a lot of time and effort to come up with an outline embark upon fleshing it out. I think the accepted school of thought, as ever, is that multiple points of view are neither good or bad. I think because it is a hard thing to get right, if you were to pull it off it would be a big achievement. Multiple POV can also offer much needed respite from a protagonist's singular POV.

    I also think a rule of thumb is to have your protagonist among a cast of supporting characters. The supporting cast should exist only to add complications to your main character's conflict and they should always be relevant to his or her overall aims whether they help or hinder. You should trash them if they don't meet this test.

    What is your protagonist trying to achieve and how do your 72 characters fit into this?

    With 6 points of view there is also the issue of split loyalties. The reader might be confused about who they are actually rooting for because presumably you want the 6 characters to have different motives. You can't have 6 characters who effectively want the same thing unless they have widely different stakes/roles in the plot. It may also be a bad idea to write the POV of the antagonist as you want your characters to attract sympathy.

    72 characters does seem like a lot but it really depends on how layered you want your novel to be.

    Which points of view do you plan to write? You have to be ruthless. Do you want to be a kind of detached storyteller in the vein of Tolkien (third person omniscient)? This can take away from the immediacy of the characterisation and plot but it is probably the best option in a story with multiple characters. Alternatively, first person narrative takes the reader inside the character's head where they can hear all the 'I's and 'me's as the character is thinking. This means you have to write in your cast only so far as they are observed by the main character. This can be tricky because it means that anything not known to the protagonist can't be written about.

    I would recommend reading and making notes from bestsellers in your fantasy genre. How do they handle exposition, subplots and multiple characters?

    There is so much to learn before you even put pen to paper but I would certainly encourage writing 'scenes' from your novel as practice. Perhaps pick what might be a climactic moment or an interesting scene - make notes of possible subplots or developments as you go.

    There are also good books out there written by agents and authors on writing your first novel. I'm reading Donald Maas, Writing the Breakout Novel. If you have local library membership get a couple of books about writing and sit down to make notes. The authors' skill and experience will help you 'test' a few of your ideas so you know what to lose and what to keep in.


    It's been a long time since I read this but I think Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh has the character's name at the beginning of every alternating POV.
     
  5. B-Ware
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    B-Ware New Member

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    Wow, ty Peerie my brain is literally soaking in everything you just said :D

    I understand defintley understand what you mean about the "difficulties with loyalties" I don't have a POV for the antagonist but see one of the characters with a POV will be mandotory because that character gives the reader a veiw of what the Antagonist is doing throughout the story, so that it doesn't get boreing and flat "The protagonist doesn't meet the antagonist till much later in the book and this is just one way I choose to create the antagonist image for the reader:D I also use dreams that another POV character has, keeping the antagonist a mystery till the end, but giving him character at the same time"

    Most of them are just encounters, but as they are encounterd they give important information that slowly builds the story.

    EX: (Sheila) *not a real character of mine* (they encounter her, and she explains a certain object's purpose "lets say that object is possesed with some dark curse or something and they must travel to some place to purify it" well that leads to another place in the story and continues the book. That place they meet someone else who knows about the medallion and a bit of it's history, turns out the main protagonist is linked to the object in someway. And it just slowly builds a story.
     
  6. Destin
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    Destin Senior Member

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    George Martin has like 12 character PoVs on the go...
    I never have a hard time following his work, in fact I freaking love it.
    Of course, he is very practiced and talented.
    But he definitely leads into each chapter with the character name, no number, no title, just the character's name.
     
  7. hszmv
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    hszmv Member

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    The Animorphs main series was mostly one character's first person point of view, alternating every five books (in order, it was Jake, Rachel, Tobias/Ax, Cassie, and Marco. Tobias would alternate into narrators once every two rotations for a good chunk of the series). A few of these books (number 19, if I remember) broke and used Cassie as a main narrator and Jake as a secondary for the parts where Cassie could not narrate the story.

    Similarly, several "Megamorphs" tie ins were made, where all the characters changed narration every chapter (denoted by their name) at various intervals, depended on who was the best POV character for that chapter. The "Chronicals" tie ins were similar, but focused on non-main characters of the story such as enemies and allies and gave the backstory for each of these characters.

    So it has been done, and it is entirely possible, but you have to make sure people know who you're writing as every time you shift.
     

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