1. hnamartin
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    hnamartin Member

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    Something between third person limited and third person omniscient?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by hnamartin, Jan 28, 2013.

    Help!

    What are people's opinions about whether there can be something in between third person limited and third person omniscient or whether a novel may start out limited and become omniscient.
    I know right off the bat people might say, "Don't switch between perspectives! Ever!" But just think about this for a moment.


    I'm writing a novel that begins with the alternating points of view (third person limited) of my three main characters. The pov switches between chapters. This goes on for a few chapters before my three main characters have actually met each other. Once my characters have met and begin to appear in scenes together I feel pressured to stick to a limited POV since I set that precedent.
    But what if my first chapters only appear limited because the main characters are not yet sharing scenes. I do have of course, secondary characters in these scenes and the perspective in regards to them is omniscient... but a limited kind of omniscient. In other words, I might give minor information that the protagonist might not have been aware of, but I don't in general go into the secondary characters thoughts. For the most part the perspective stays with the protagonist.

    Can anyone think of examples of books they have read that feature this? Or could you just offer opinions on whether there might be a spectrum between omniscient and limited or whether it could work to switch from omniscient to limited within a novel (across chapters or parts let's say)?

    I hope that made sense...
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Third person with multiple POVs. Generally, it's best to avoid switching POVs within a scene, but switching POV between scenes, or more often, between chapters, is quite common.

    It's not as freewheeling as omniscient, because every scene is told from a fixed point of view, but it isn't limited to one specific character either.
     
  3. hnamartin
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    hnamartin Member

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    Thank you for the response. I basically am writing third person with alternating perspectives, however. Let me be more specific.

    Occasionally when writing in third person limited I will make reference to information that the character is either not yet privy to, or information which he is never privy too.

    Simple examples:
    John hadn't yet realized that he had met this girl before.
    OR
    John never noticed the sorrow in his friend's voice. If he had, he might have kept him company a little longer.

    Is this technically limited/omniscient? It feels like something in between.
     
  4. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    It is possible to switch POV between, during, or after a scene provided there's a line break to tell the reader you're shifting. I finish my paragraph, make on blank line, then put a single #, and then another blank line before switching POV. I do this a lot in my battle scenes, so it can be shown from multiple viewpoints because each person has a different experience. I tend to backtrack just a hair when doing so to make the viewpoint somewhat seamless. For example, let's say Character 1 set off a charge, causing a large snowbank to come down. Character 2's POV, would start slightly, maybe a matter of a few minutes before the charge's explosion and then the reader would see the events from his/her eyes. Another line break and then move back to Character 1.

    It depends on your skill and how you carry it out.
     
  5. b3av3r
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    b3av3r Member

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    In the first example, why not just wait until John realizes he knows the girl and approach it then? Is it really important to let the reader know he doesn't remember meeting this girl but at some time in the future he will remember he met her?

    Maybe these examples aren't really demonstrating what you want to do.
     
  6. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    Technically, anything that is not omniscient is limited according to "omniscient" 's definition. Switching POVs once or twice for certain scenes or chapters is one thing, but using it more often than that will on the majority of the cases either confuse the reader, or disappoint or both. If you start with third person omniscient then after a while readers will expect to see the insight expected from this POV and when you take it away they may be vexed.
     
  7. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    It's been done on more then one occasion in the literary world. I'm not confused when I have switching POV's in a novel I'm reading. As long as it's clearly differentiated as to who's POV your reading from, it's not that confusing. Once again, it boils down to writer's skill, and if they don't have the skills, then yes it will be confusing.
     

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