1. Palle
    Offline

    Palle New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2012
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Rockyplace, MA

    Switching from 1st to 3rd POV

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Palle, Jun 9, 2012.

    forgive me if I'm posting this in the wrong place I'm kind of new here if its not obvious.

    I have a quick question,
    would switching from first to 3rd person in a story throw off a reader to the point where they wouldn't want to read it?
    I switch to 3rd person quite randomly to explain whats going on when my character is just 'derping around' but the rest is in 1st person cause its more convenient
    ..Thank you for your replys
     
  2. ithestargazer
    Offline

    ithestargazer Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    Messages:
    303
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    the big M, Australia
    Well, firstly, you're going to be bombarded with comments about this post. People ask this particular question a lot and there are about 50 threads on it. If you have a look through the General Writing, Character Development, Plot Development pages, etc, you'll get a lot of different answers that will be helpful to you. Always check there before you post because a question might have already been answered for you :)
     
  3. Marge
    Offline

    Marge Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    0
    Generally it's better to stick with one POV since it could throw off the reader.
     
  4. killbill
    Offline

    killbill Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    559
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    where the mind is without fear...
    It is certainly not something that can't be done, but it is very very hard to do it right. If you are doing it 'quite randomly' then I would say chances are very high that you'll confuse the readers. Even if they are not confuse they will lost trust in your writing if they see no good reason for your POV switch. Nothing should be random about what a writer does in his/her novel, everything should be for a very good reason.

    From what I am reading in your post I feel like the story should be written in closed 3rd person (the compulsion to randomly switch POV is one good reason), because you can achieve almost everything that can be achieve through 1st person with closed 3rd person, and this also has the advantage of easily switching to some other character's viewpoint whenever you feel the need, like when you want to give information which the earlier character doesn't have access to.
     
  5. P R Crawford
    Offline

    P R Crawford Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2012
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Morocco
    If you've been writing for many years and know how to bend the rules, then it's no problem. You'll know what do it - and what not.

    If you're still learning, then it's best to follow the rules for any piece of writing you expect others to read.

    For practice (stuff you don't expect others to read), play as much as you want. :)
     
  6. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Stick to one POV I think, if you're not experienced. Switching POV can be done and can be interesting, but it's damn hard to get right. I tried this - switching between 1st and 3rd person, with my MC narrating and then 3rd person for scenes that are outside of my MC's experience. One of my friends who was reading quite a few scenes found it confusing, because he just didn't see the point of it. It also made my MC very annoying because in my novel, the theme of inadequacy and guilt is quite central and this caused my MC to become way too whiny - there's no break for the reader.

    In the end, I had to switch everything from 1st person back to 3rd person - that was about 100 pages of editing all because of this. I found that I struggled in switching my writing from 1st to 3rd POV and back - it's not just a matter of replacing every "he" and "him" with "I" and "me" - it's even in the way you structure your sentence and the wording you use - and I wasn't managing the switch AT ALL.

    The moment I switched everything into 3rd person, suddenly everything flowed. It was easy to write, and it was much better writing too.

    Sooo... I'd say stick to one POV unless you have a very good reason for not doing that, and whatever you're trying to achieve simply cannot be achieved with using only one POV (and this is rare).

    But doing it on a whim because you "feel like it" (which was my reason) is gonna lead to utter disaster.
     
  7. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    To Me its a no-no. If you choose to write a story from first person you Will have to accept that there should be no scenes where your pov character is not around. The whole purpose of first person is to see only and exclusively what that char sees. It sounds to Me like your story would benefit from being told from 3rd person.
     
  8. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Those who do switch between first and third typically only do so on chapter boundaries.

    I recommend against doing it at all. First and third are different enough in "feel" that it will be jarring, and for no good reason.

    Everything you can do with first can be done with third limited, and the reasons for choosing first person over third limited are not all that compatible with POV-switching.

    First person is best for exploiting the Unreliable Narrator, and for limiting the perspective to what the MC knows or believes at any particular moment. For these purposes, it makes little sens to pop over for a look at other POVs.

    You can still use third limited for limiting the perspective, but it isn;t as good a choice when you are using the unreliable narrator to tell a story from a self-serving slant.
     
  9. Palle
    Offline

    Palle New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2012
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Rockyplace, MA
    Thank you for all the replys, I think ithestargazer was right, I really should've checked the forums first, sorry about that.

    Alright I'm going to explain why I'm switching the POV here
    In a flashback of my story the MC gets kidnapped and its a lot easier to write that in 1st person., but after a while nothing really happens so I transition over to the police
    Should I switch the POV there or leave it be.
    Thank you
    (I'm not going to reply for a while, I have a wedding to go to, but really, thank you ~)
     
  10. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    My answer remains the same. You could easily switch to third person pov throughout the entire story without losing the sense of urgency or empathy with the mc. That way you wouldn't have to switch and later on you might discover you need another pov that you didn't think of before... I think it would give a strange feeling reading a book from first person pov just to have it interrupted by an anonymous police in third, with the first person pov character not even present (? or did I misunderstand something?), but I have to say you should really avoid to include sequences in your story where "nothing really happens". I'm not sure it's a valid reason to switch pov to someone who doesn't belong in the story. If you write in first and there is a period where little happens that is significant to the plot, you could just skip to where something does happen to your mc. It sounds to me, though, like you need to develop the plot better.
     
  11. killbill
    Offline

    killbill Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    559
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    where the mind is without fear...
    I still don't see any good reasons for switching between 1st and 3rd person or for that matter the viewpoint shift to the policeman. If "nothing really happens" make something happen. I agree that you need better plot development.
     
  12. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,935
    Likes Received:
    5,472
    I agree that third person limited doesn't need to be appreciably different from first person. Examples:

    Third person limited: James unlocked the door and walked in, eyes bleary. The place still smelled like rancid tuna salad and air freshener; he was tempted to turn around and go back to the office. He reached for the lightswitch, then froze at the sound of breathing. What?

    First person: I unlocked the door and walked in, eyes bleary. The place still smelled like rancid tuna salad and air freshener; I was tempted to turn around and go back to the office. I reached for the lightswitch, then froze at the sound of breathing. What?

    I'd say, just stick to third person all the way through, changing your viewpoint character at appropriate transitions.
     
  13. Lovelina
    Offline

    Lovelina Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2012
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    If you are going to change POV, I suggest you do it in different chapters, i.e. one set of chapters devoted to narrator, and another set of chapters devoted to the protagonist. If these chapters are clearly labeled, your readers wouldn't be confused. Though, is this method the best way to portray what you are trying to convey? That is up to you.
     
  14. Palle
    Offline

    Palle New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2012
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Rockyplace, MA
    Thank you for all the replies, I'll consider changing it to 3rd person.
    Ah also I think I may have phrased it wrong when I said "Nothing happens" my character is blindfolded and nothing at the particular moment unless I want so skip a few paragraphs, I started writing this in nanowrimo so the plot has a few kinks
    but once I get home I'll try and edit it.
    thank you
     
  15. Program
    Offline

    Program Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2012
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Writing a Program
    The switch can be very effective sometimes, but it can also damage your story. Make sure there's some type of break between the two switches, so readers won't get confused.
     
  16. Palle
    Offline

    Palle New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2012
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Rockyplace, MA
    I've been thinking about that, maybe I'll finish writing out the flashback and have someone read it to see if its confusing or not, Something along those lines. I'll probably put an underscore as a breaker inbetween both POV's, see if that works, if not then I'll change it.
     
  17. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    It's risky at best to switch POVs within a scene. Do it between scenes, or better yet, with a new chapter.

    There are examples of authors successfully switching POVs within a scene, but usually it doesn't work well at all.
     
  18. Egor
    Offline

    Egor Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    New Orleans Area
    To wite "fiction" you must consider your audience.

    I'm sorry to be so direct about this, but switching POV is simply not an acceptable way to write fiction. I would not review such a book, and I wouldn't read it for pleasure. I recently had a discussion with someone about using the first person present tense: you can do it--technically speaking, but it's awkward, and people don't waste their time with awkward, just like using the second person POV. You can do it, but you're not going to have any readers. If you don't care about readers, then you're no longer writing fiction--you're writing a journal.

    The problem with switching POV from first to third is that while it's convenient for the writer, it's confusing for the reader. The third person becomes an intrusion in the narrative that jars the reader out of their suspension of disbelief, which they must maintain in order to have a fictional experience, which is why anyone reads a fictional work. It would be like trying to have a dream and you keep hearing a voice commenting on it--there's no way you could believe the dream was real.

    Again, you can do whatever you want, but if you're not considering your audience when you write, then you're not writing fiction--you're journaling.
     

Share This Page