1. AzraelSakura
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    AzraelSakura New Member

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    Question On Writing POV?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by AzraelSakura, Sep 20, 2010.

    I'm writing a book in first-person perspective. There is no way I can change that. To change it to third-person would ruin it. Everything that goes on in my main character's world has to be told through his eyes or it wouldn't work.

    But there's another character: the love interest. She feels something too. It's something that I'd like to emphasize but I wouldn't be able to unless I could focus on her. (Note: This story is NOT a romance. However it does start out like one.)

    I know I can switch perspectives for a bit. But to me it is my main character's story. I don't EVER want to refer to him in third person. Ever. It would make it feel like he's become less important to me. Even if the readers wouldn't feel it, I would.

    I think I have a couple options:

    Option 1: I was thinking, I could do what James Patterson did in Maximum Ride. The story is in First Person, but when focused on a character different from the main, then it switches to Third Person. But this only works if the main character never enters into this second character's "world" so-to-speak while that scene is going on.

    Option 2: This is the one I REALLY want to do, but it would mean breaking the barrier between two characters. Have the story stay in first person, but allow the main character to focus on the second character. What she's thinking and feeling. The problem with this is that it will seem like he can read her mind, or is stalking her.

    Should I stick with Option 1 or 2? Is there a third option available to me? Is there a way I can pull off Option 2 without the audience getting confused? Help?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Any story you can tell in first person can be told in third person. A third person limited perspective focused tightly on your protagonist has every bit as much access to the character as a first person POV. If you don't understand this, I have my doubts as to how ready you are to tackle the more demanding first person POV.

    But let's say you stick with your plan to write in first person. In that case, Option 2 is, frankly, absurd. Option 1 is workable, but I would set aside the material focusing on her in separate chapters.

    Option 3, preferable whenever you choose a first person POV (otherwise there is no good reason for selecting that POV) is to remain in your protagonists's head throughout. Let him guess at her feelings from her behavior that he observes, and refrain from deep-diving into her cerebellum entirely.
     
  3. AzraelSakura
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    AzraelSakura New Member

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    I'm aware what third person can do. It's not right for THIS story. I've tried. It just doesn't work.

    I'd appreciate it if you didn't imply that my literary ability is incompetent.

    You know what? I just joined today, and I've already felt insulted. Good bye.
     
  4. white
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    white Banned

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    Just alternate. One chapter is First Person male protagonist, second chapter is First Person female love interest, etc.
     
  5. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    There's nothing absurd about option 2. What you mean is there's nothing realistic about option 2, but since writing is not reality, it need not necessarily resemble it. Circumscribing narrative forms like that is, quite frankly, absurd.
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Observation and dialogue are useful tools in first person. Mine being fantasy made it easier because when I had an event my MC shouldn't be at I changed him into a bird lol. I agree with you, what makes my story special is my MC Angus, it is his reactions to things etc Sure the story could be told in third person and be a good story, but it is Angus that takes it from a good story to something I am really proud of.

    Third option would be to give her chapters in first person POV and tell the story from her POV in those. You could tell both stories.
     
  7. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, but it can lose so much richness. Some of the most amazing things you read can be heavily dependant on the viewpoint for those things. Even showing thoughts as much as possible wouldn't give the full experience of the great 1st person novels, while the third person ones might seem horrendously limited from a first person perspective, even if all the basic information was introduced.

    A POV is as important to the story as the plot, the storyline, or any of the other things that make a story a whole. If a story has to be in first person, it has to be in first person, and that's final. it just IS.

    Though, Cogito, you do seem to ignore the emotional side of writing very often in favour of the technicalities, so I'm guessing you wouldn't consider it as more than a process of making words.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You don't lose richness if you are using third person limited well. The differences between well-crafted third person limited and well-crafted first person are fairly subtle.

    It's unwise to switch between multiple first-person perspectives. That isn't to say it has never been done successfully. If you insist upon doing things the hard way, good luck. You'll need it.

    This remark is completely uncalled for, and I find it quite offensive.
     
  9. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    I disagree. When things "just are" they usually have no reason to be.

    Would you believe me if I told you I have a story that just has to be written without punctuation? That the story really needs it?

    The problem is too many people think that by pouring their heart in a story it will magically become good. Well, in writing as in other forms of art, you have to learn the "language" before using it to transmit the feelings.

    It doesn't matter how strong are my feelings, how powerful my message, if you give me a block of marble and stone-carving tools I won't make a good sculpture. It's just not possible. Writing does seem easier but, at least here, we should understand it isn't.
     
  10. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would if the story worked without the punctuation.

    I'm going on the assumption that the writing is good and we're disagreeing over the technicalities here. I don't like thinking of everyone as a newb writer who can't tell their arse from their elbow when they look at a blank page. I want to treat people like adults who know what they're doing and have the skills to do it. EVERYONE is a good writer, no matter how lousy the spelling or whatever, if their heart is in it. My heart and soul live in a writing forum where no one knows the first thing about the technicalities in a conscious way, but write for fun and because they love it, and are all still beginning their path toward becoming publishable. But there is no one there I'd look at who I'd say is crap at writing unless they clearly just don't have the heart in it. 99% of them do, and so I love their writing and I love them for writing it. I just think... Love is writing and writing is love and you must love writing and I'm not going to say "love" again unironically in this sentence.

    The thing is, in the original post, they'd clearly thought about what WORKED for their story. It wasn't "nur I have no idea what I'm doing how do I first person?" it was a valid question about what to do now they'd decided this. They alone know what their story *is* - we just know that it has to be first person. And I'm gonna trust them on that.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    This confuses me. You can _tell_ the thoughts in third person, you're not limited to showing them. They can be told just as they can be told in first person. I'm not clear on what you're saying can only be done in first person?

    ChickenFreak
     
  12. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    I understand your point of view and I could apply it too. Just think that the person we're talking to knows everything but what he's asking. However, using this very case as an example, that would reduce my answer to:

    "If you're good enough to be able to pull off a good style in first person, you're probably a much better writer than me and I don't think my answer could be of any help."

    As I don't find that very useful, I just opt for mentioning it briefly and then doing as if I hadn't seen it, commenting on other aspects where I may be able to help without entering a direct confrontation.
     
  13. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I think this is absolutely true, and you don't necessarily lose anything in the process if you do it well. You can go the opposite direction as well, though it becomes trickier if you have events taking place away from the main viewpoint character, and then have to resort to having a main character in first-person POV, and then other POV characters presented separately. I've seen this done, but it is a bit unusual.
     
  14. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I dunno, it's just a way personalities have of coming through in first person versus third. Being inside the head versus outside it, even if it is only just outside. *shrugs* Could be done, but it would be different. And maybe not as great. I'm imagining, like, REALLY important classics reimagined from a 3rd person point of view here, by the way. Jane Eyre or Great Expectations or something. :p

    Or, conversely, Virgina Woolf's Mrs Dalloway from 1st person. Erk. :/
     
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  15. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Would be interesting to see. For example, Jane Eyre (opening paragraphs):

    versus

    What do you think. Significant difference?
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There is certainly a difference in tone between first and a tight third person limited. that is why writers do make a choice between them. However, when someone says the story can't be done in third person, I have to suspect they don't have experience with TPL. Furthermore, much of what someone needs to write TPL is common to what is needed to write first person successfully.

    The trap with first person is the "I" snare. a tendency to constantly peer inward: I saw, I felt, I knew, instead of taking self out of the equation most of the time. The first person character should describe the world as he or she sees it, and let the reader see the observer only as a reflection of the world.

    The majority of amateur writing I see in first person falls into the "I" trap, and I believe it is why so many new writers believe first person is easier than third.
     
  17. flanneryohello
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    flanneryohello Member

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    I have to agree with the premise that any story can be written in first- or third-person, though clearly there are times when one perspective might work better than the other. But I really can't think of a reason a particular story couldn't work in third-person limited POV instead of first-person. With TPL, you have just as much ability to get inside your character's head...without resorting to dreaded italicized thoughts, even.

    That aside, I have to agree that having the first-person character somehow "know" the thoughts or emotions of a secondary character wouldn't work for me unless the protagonist is an empath or otherwise gifted with the ability to read minds. :) So I would vote for Option 1, out of the two. I don't know this story or the secondary character's function within it, but would it work to do something like have short chapters from that character's POV that function as her thoughts/musings on events in letter or diary form? So you're not really moving her through the story, per se, but you're providing access to her emotions and feelings through a device that exists outside the narrative?

    Just a thought.
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i agree with cog's assessment of the op's post and his opinions on this matter... it's a shame the op wasn't able to see his advice as valid and meant only to be helpful, which of course it was...
     
  19. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Could Jane Eyre be told in third person yes. Would I have cried as much no. It would have been half the book. The Red Room scene and the death of Helen Burns would have lost a lot. The scene that would really have lost it's emotion would have been the one where she discovers Edward is blind.

    I couldn't imagine Across the Nightingale Floor or the God Box being told third person it would take away from it. For me it is just more fun to write first person, I can write third person, did quite well with a short story competition in third person. I personally prefer reading first person didn't realise until i looked at my top ten books but seven are first person.

    However in someways with mine Angus is the story - it can be told third person and be a good story but it wouldn't be as good.

    EDIT
    This is the line where there is significant difference - my physical inferiority is 100 times more poignant to her physical inferiority for me.
     
  20. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    In answer to your problem, I would allow your MC access to the girls diary. He can remain in 1st person, yet read her thoughts and feelings directly.

    As for first or third. I always write in 1st person. It works for EVERY single one of my favourite authors. It makes emotions for real and the book more human and I grow bored of reading 3rd person books very quickly.
     
  21. Horizon Noise
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    Horizon Noise Member

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    Probably best to go for third person if your protagonist dies, however ;)
     
  22. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    One would think. But I have read one book where the 1st-person POV character died midway through.
     
  23. Horizon Noise
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    Horizon Noise Member

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    I think Iain Banks has one too, told from multiple perspectives including a first person who dies, although he can get away with it nowadays.
     
  24. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    True, he can.

    The one I read only had one viewpoint character through book one. Then the same character is the only viewpoint character throughout about half of book two, until she suddenly and violently dies, and from there on out a second character is the sole viewpoint character in book two.

    Took me a moment to get used to the idea, but it worked out well enough.
     
  25. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    First time round I told my story first person from the point of view of a King who died in the third chapter and didn't realise he was dead. That was actually the best bit about the original POV. It was the story that didn't work.
     

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