1. hankesj
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    hankesj New Member

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    Struggling with POV

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by hankesj, Feb 28, 2012.

    Right now my MS is written in 3rd person limited but I have two characters whose stories really need to be told. I'm wondering if it's better to do alternating 1st person chapters or do alternating 3rd person limited chapters focusing on one main character. One of my crit partners commented that there was too much story to be told by the characters to do straight 3rd person limited throughout the whole thing. (I think that means I'm switching too much between their pov's within the chapter.) Hopefully this makes enough sense to you guys so I can get some advice! Thank you in advance!
     
  2. IncompleteSenten
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    IncompleteSenten New Member

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    I think I understand what you're getting at. Have you read "Jurassic Park" by Michael Crichton? He has a few storylines going on at the same time, with just two or three characters in each one. He tells a bit of each one then rewinds a bit to let the others catch up. I think that's what you're trying to do. I haven't read it since the 90s so I can't really comment right now on how he specifically managed his storylines. But I'm sure if you skim the book it should give you an idea of how it can be done.
     
  3. AntisocialMoose
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    AntisocialMoose Member

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    I'm kind of lost on the options you presented us.

    Alternating first person vs alternating 3rd person limited? I think that's what you asked.

    You can honestly do either one it's just a matter how HOW you do it. In both cases, the shift between character focus needs to be clear and precise. In Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin starts each chapter with a character's name, so we automatically know which point of view it's in and whose story we are going to read. This is extremely important because he has at least... oh... 10 point of view characters? If not more! So it can be done, certainly.

    I've always had a certain dislike of first person, but it depends on the genre. The author gets too stuck in the narrator's head/thoughts to actually tell the story.
     
  4. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    multiple first person or one limited third? Have you thought about multiple third person pov? I know it has been done but I can't help but wondering why first person is your first choice if you have more than one pov...
     
  5. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    A lot of the time rapidly alternating pov's in third person limited can be sorted out by better organising your writing. For me, the simplest to follow and to write is if you alternate pov's between chapters, each chapter being told from one pov only. And to have no more that 3 or at a stretch 4 pov characters. Having one subplot running like 1st person pov while everything else is 3rd person limited will propel that character to a very prominent position, but I have seen it work really well in a couple of places, once for a villain and the other time for a hero.

    The reader instinctivelly recognises the protagonist by how represented his/her pov is, so in most of the usual literature, you'll get the hero to have pov 60% of the time, one of the major characters maybe like 30% and the second major 10% of the time. If you plan to fluctuate between 3rd and 1st, chose a dominant one and use the other one only 10% of the time, in order to keep the narrative cohesive (just my opinion).
     
  6. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    31 by the current count actually.

    But at the OP, yeah it depends on how it's done, but personally I prefer alternating third person limited (which is what I'm doing in my WIP.) as it gives more freedom but keeps a personal feel.
     
  7. hankesj
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    hankesj New Member

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    Thanks for your help guys! I think in my head I see the story written as alternating third person limited like a couple of you mention, but I'm not sure I'm a strong enough writer yet to execute it. Besides George R.R. Martin novels, are there any other novels you guys can think of right away that I could reference? I'm struggling with keeping consistent in that one chapter will almost exclusively have one character's pov and then all of the sudden the next chapter I have three or four characters povs popping up. *sigh* Thank goodness for sites like these where experienced authors can help out us newbies :)
     
  8. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure, but I think a multiple first person pov would be even more difficult if you don't have that much experience yet. I guess it would be very easy to make the characters sound too alike (many writers say it's very easy in first person to put too much of yourself in the characters voice) and the story might read like a diary.
    I also think you should be careful with how many pov you include in a single chapter. four sounds like a lot, could it be possible to start a new chapter earlier or does it all belong to the same chapter? some people actually advice writers to not use more than one pov per chapter, but I think if you write it well and make sure the reader always knows 'who's head he's in' you could probably get away with two or maybe even three. as long as you avoid confusion or too frequent jumps in time, place or character there shouldn't be a problem.
     
  9. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    There are a lot of options re: POV. Most writers will stick to first or third, but Barry Eisler does his protag Rain in 1st and alternates those chaptes with chapters of the other characters in 3rd. He does it well enough not to disturb it though. I'm reading a book by Purdue at the moment who is headhopping like mad throughout the chapters, and apparently his books sell like hotcakes.

    I myself use three storylines, with one main POV per storyline. If I want to shift POV, I use a scene break, or even a chapter break.
     

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