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  1. Ion
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    Ion Senior Member

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    Single or Multiple POV?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ion, Mar 14, 2011.

    The story I'm writing right now has several significant characters that routinely interact with the protagonist.

    The main character has a very strong personality that comes across in the writing, but I sometimes feel limited in what I'm able to write because of his biases. He's an unreliable narrator.

    While I feel that a perceptive reader could pick up on all the details that hint at what the truth really is, I'm wondering if it would be worth it to switch to another viewpoint every so often.

    I can write for the other characters without issue, but I'm unsure of how taking the reader out of the shoes of the protagonist will effect how they relate to him. I want the reader to feel like they're coming with the protagonist on a personal level through a part of his life. I don't want to shatter that intimacy by sharing it with other characters. They have distinct voices and views that would hem in on the hero's spotlight.

    Is it worth sacrificing a little bit of that connection to make the story a little bit more concrete?
     
  2. zilly
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    zilly Senior Member

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    This is generally frowned upon. I like it a lot, but I guess that's just me.

    If you're story needs two points of view, there are ways to do it without technically switching the point of view -- by clippings from papers and things like that. But, that may not get across what you want.
     
  3. bekajoi
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    bekajoi Senior Member

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    I try and change who I am following/talking about on occasion. Some stories I do this more than with others, as some things happen when the "main" isn't around to see things, but you need to know about them.

    I would not write in first person and change around, though. That would be a lot more confusing than if you are writing in third person and being an outside narrating party.

    I usually switch with a new chapter, if I am going to do this. The book I'm working on is like this: Chapter 1 follows this guy who is looking for MC. Chapter 2 continues looking and gets deeper into his character and mindset. Chapter 3 follows the MC and her mindset, and shows what other guy can only guess at. You find out things he couldn't know. Chapter 4 follows someone who meets both of them and gives outsider perspective. 5 and 6 go back to MC, with a little blip with other guy in there for a while, and so on.

    I try and avoid writing the same thing multiple times, but rather, I expand on what you already know, adding more depth in than I could have added on a single pass.

    I may choose to drop this way of looking at the story once I'm further into it and am editing out what doesn't need to be there, but for now, first draft, it works well. And it gives me a fuller knowledge of what is happening. Later I can figure out how much of it is necessary and how much can go away, but I'd rather over-write it up front and pare it down later.

    I say write it however you feel it needs to happen. You can change it later if it doesn't work as well as you had hoped.
     
  4. Ion
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    Ion Senior Member

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    Part of the reason I'm even considering adding in more points of view is that the protagonist often misinterprets the motives of his friends, and it's important that he doesn't understand them until later. It would also benefit the reader to see how the other characters actually think sooner rather than later. Any empathy that I generate for them helps me out.

    Still, it's just as valuable to preserve a single POV. It's a tough call to make.

    Thanks for offering your views. I brought my question here so I could get some thoughts other than the ones I've been mulling over.

    In answer to one of your concerns, I'm using third person. Jumping to another character doesn't represent an obstacle.
     
  5. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    I don't see any issue with moving to another character's POV, as long as you do it in a new scene (i.e. don't go head-hopping). This is pretty frequently used, especially when there's more than one storyline to follow at a time. You shouldn't be doing it carelessly, but I think you've got a pretty compelling reason to do so.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Switching POVs within a scene is generally not a good idea. Many authors will only switch POVs on chapter boundaries.

    Frank Herbert was one of the few writers I have encountered who could successfully flow from one POV to another within a scene (read young Paul Atreides' gom jabbar trial in Dune). Unfortunately, his son Brian Herbert has tried to retain his father's style but is nowhere near as adept with those POV transitions.

    So it can be done, but your best bet is not to try.
     
  7. Ion
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    Ion Senior Member

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    I'm not talking about switching POV in one scene. My conundrum is that I can't decide whether I want to sacrifice my main character's narrative monopoly.

    Anyway, I think I've made up my mind. The benefits outweigh the costs in this case. It'll probably tilt my story into being focused on a few individuals rather than one guy, but I think the audience will be entertained by the differing perspectives. The story will be better for it.
     
  8. Annûniel
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    Annûniel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't be afraid to do that, Ion. My book switches POV (third person limited) between characters as well.

    As long as you're not doing as such that is confusing (such as stated with switching POV within a scene) there's no reason not to. Hope this helps.
     

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