1. Sandfire
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    Sandfire Member

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    Sequels and Switching POV

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sandfire, Sep 11, 2013.

    I know (mostly from experience) that switching the POV character too frequently early in the book will mostly leave you with a very confused reader. Question: is that different for sequels, where the vast majority of the characters you are switching between are familiar voices from previous books?
     
  2. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    Depends on the sequel. If it is a standalone sequel where one does not actually need to have read the previous book to get a grasp on it then the beginning of the sequel shouldn't confuse the reader.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You are not ready to write a sequel. You must never assume the reader has read the previous story or stories. And how often you switch POVs has nothing to do with how familiar the reader is with your characters or setting.
     
  4. m24p
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    You are not ready to write a forum reply. Just kidding.

    Seriously, though, a lot of my favorite works (and the classics) are nothing like you describe. Perhaps we have differing definitions of sequels?
    This is the definition I'm going off of. I would say that The Return of the King was a sequel that was pretty well done, and the author definitely expected the reader to have read the previous stories. For more modern examples, we can go with Wheel of Time or Lightbringer or (one of my favorites) Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. These all certainly expect the reader to have read the previous novels. Frankly, I would find it incredibly irritating if, in these types of books, the author had to go over all the previous plot just to get you up to speed. Imagine how long the final Wheel of Time book would have been if it had to bring the reader up to speed on the entire story arc! So... maybe you aren't reading the same stories I'm reading, but to make a blanket statement like that seems pretty silly.

    I agree with EllBeEss. If you're looking at series where you are building a large story arc that is not really separable into stand-alone stories, then it's okay to assume the reader has a basic grasp on who the characters are. Be careful, though. it may have been a long time since they've read the last one so don't expect them to remember to many subtleties. But if you're in a series where it's essentially a separate story arc each time, even if you have a larger story arc going on too, it makes sense to write so the reader who hasn't read the previous stories doesn't feel left out.

    As for the frequency of changing point of view, I think you should change point of view at the start of the sequel less frequently than you could toward the end of the novel. The reader will likely be less familiar with everything due to a time gap between books. Does that make sense?
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    When you say switching POVs, are you talking about first person POV where you hop from head to head, or are you talking about third person omniscient where the narrator simply knows what everyone is thinking? Is this present or past tense?

    I have three POVs in my duology, the first book's protagonist, a transition character who is in both books and we don't see his POV until well into the first book, and then the POV of a parallel but different protagonist in the second book. This is quite different from third person omniscient where the narrator tells the reader things in the characters' heads.

    So what precisely are you referring to?
     
  6. Sandfire
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    m24p: That's where I'm coming from...while each book does have its own smaller plot arc, I see a lot of fantasy authors who do not write each sequel as though it were a standalone...there is a definite arc that covers the entire trilogy/series. So yes, what you said makes sense.

    GingerCoffee: Please forgive me, but I'm not great with all the jargon yet. It's past tense, third person, but I'm only ever in one character's head at a time. Not sure what that's called, but I know it's been used in a lot of the fantasy I've read. I consider a POV switch anytime we move from one character's perspective to another.
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I don't see the problem in head switching, it would just need to be clear whose head you were in and you do that in how you write it.
     
  8. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Third person limited. :)
     
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  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    See, I didn't know either. No forgiveness needed. :D
     
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  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I would presume (and this is me presuming!) that if you write a sequel which is a direct continuation of a previous book—like The Two Towers was a 'sequel' to The Fellowship of the Ring—that you could include a synopsis of the first story in the published sequel? I'm pretty sure I've seen this done before, but I'm not sure where.

    This makes more sense than re-telling the first story in the body of the novel. Just pick up where you left off.

    As for changing the POV in the sequel, I think that depends on what you're trying to do with the new character. If your sequel is continuing your original story through the eyes of a different character, I don't see this as any different from changing POV from one chapter to another. Whatever works.
     
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  11. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    I would reccommend that each chapter maintain only a single POV. Switching between chapters and from one book to the next, I would imagine, would not cause any jarring issues for the reader. It would be the readers fault for jumping into the middle of a series. Each book should have it's own complete story arc to satisfy readers, but if you are telling one larger story, tell it in as may books as it needs. It is your job to write the story clearly, not make sure that anyone can jump in anywhere (why write the whole thing if you could summarize the first half?). With regards to characters, be sure that within each book, you reaffirm certain character relationships and roles as we are reintroduced to them.
     
  12. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Thank you. Really.

    I am writing a YA series, and although the first hasn't even got an agent yet, I'm still having to plan the sequel, even if it's only for myself. But I've always been against the whole "you must tell new readers what has happened before," for reasons I won't go into because I would rant! :p But I still don't want to annoy potential agents and publishers, so I've been wondering how to do it. You may just have given me the answer!

    I've seen the synopsis thing used before, and I know I've seen them in comic-book mini series.

    Thanks again! :D :D (You get a double grin because you've made me doubly grinny)
     
  13. Sandfire
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    Thank you.
     

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