1. bakalove
    Offline

    bakalove Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2012
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Honesdale, Pennsylvania, United States

    Switching points of view (character wise)

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by bakalove, May 9, 2012.

    In my book im thinking of playing around with the idea of switching points of view throughout the book. Id like to switch them between my two main characters Ian and Ish. But the problem is Ish will only be switched to once awhile. So my question is, Is it a good idea to use this or should i just stick to Ians point of view, also my book is written in first person.

    An example where it would be used.~

    Ian and Ish are walking home from school and a creature jumps out of no where and knocks Ian unconscious.
    At this point the POV would switch to Ish as she fights the creature and at some point it would switch back to Ian.
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Within a single scene, it's best to stick to one POV. Frank Herbert was able to effectively switch between POVs within a scene (see Paul's gom jabbar test), but most writers can't pull it off - that includes his son, Brian Herbert, attempting to follow his father's style.

    Switching POV needs to be well managed, or it will disorient the reader. That disorientation takes the reader out of the scene until he or she gets settled in the new POV.
     
  3. AmyHolt
    Offline

    AmyHolt Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2011
    Messages:
    475
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Warsaw, IN
    I completely agree with Cog but in the situation you gave I think you could pull it off and I don't think it would be strange to have most of the book from one POV and only a few things from another. The issue I have is the names Ian and Ish are so close that I would forever be confusing them.
     
  4. aimeekath
    Offline

    aimeekath Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2012
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Bristol, England
    Like Cognito and Holt said above me, you would need to handle the switch really well so it doesn't get confusing for the reader.

    How do you go about switching P.O.V in 1st person though? I didn't know if that was actually possible so I stopped trying to do it in this story I was writing.
     
  5. killbill
    Offline

    killbill Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    559
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    where the mind is without fear...
    This, and if you are doing it you got to have a very good reason for switching POV in a scene. The reason in your example is not good enough, you can easily do it without the switch.

    Solution 1: Ian is rendered immobile but he is conscious. He could see Ish fighting the creature.

    Solution 2: If Ian being unconscious is very important to the plot, how Ish fought the creature could be recounted to him by Ish or some other character. But I recommend this only if the scene is short.
     
  6. ArnaudB
    Offline

    ArnaudB Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2012
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    10
    Generally it's indeed better to stick to one POV for an entire scene. If you write in first person, this is clearly non-negotiable.

    The only exception I've made to that rule so far is for a 4-5 people battle scene in third person, in there I made some small paragraphs with keep changing the person. However since the battle span over 8k words, I don't really recommend it...

    Otherwise if you plan to write alternative POV in 1st person, I'd recommend regularity. Like Ish every three chapter and still to that till the end. I remember a book in first person that kept changing the protagonist every chapter (and not with just two), it was hell...
     
  7. bakalove
    Offline

    bakalove Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2012
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Honesdale, Pennsylvania, United States
    I'm sorry to confuse you guys what i meant by switching POV is that say when Ian falls unconscious the chapter ends and the next chapter starts with Ish as the POV and next to the chapter itll say Ish just so you know that its her not Ian. It also helps that the way im writing with her while she's in the point of view is very spazzy and skittish like kinda like if a squirrel was writing it.

    Also Ish will only come into POV when its needed i will never be switching to her for no reason I'd say she'd probably get 5 chapters or so in the entire book :p
     
  8. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    If you're just asking if you could have more than one pov character in the book, then yes, of course. Plenty of books have that, it's nothing strange at all. But try to stick to one pov per scene , as the others have said, and you'll be fine.
     
  9. ithestargazer
    Offline

    ithestargazer Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    Messages:
    303
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    the big M, Australia
    I generally agree with the above as it's a difficult thing to pull off. I recently read a YA novel in which each chapter switched POVs between two best friends. It was written in first person and I immediately found it off-putting. I liked one character and disliked the other and found myself wanting to skip parts that weren't in my preferred character's POV.

    You not only run the risk of confusing the reader but it could also interrupt the flow/pace of the story. Even if it's segmented by chapter breaks, it can still be disorienting.

    I would advise you to write it both ways - one with the POV switch and one without. It's really about what you feel will work best for your story.
     
  10. Ettina
    Offline

    Ettina Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2011
    Messages:
    440
    Likes Received:
    20
    The Megamorphs books from the Animorphs series were like that, and I thought it worked pretty well. Quite simply, at the start of each chapter, it explicitly told you whose perspective you were in now (in place of chapter titles). They had all six Animorphs narrate different chapters.

    I'd recommend outright telling the reader whose perspective you're in now. Since you aren't switching every chapter, probably best to have a chapter name and then a subtitle for each chapter telling you which character is narrating this (even if it's 3 out of 5 straight Ian ones, just to make sure). Switching first person perspective can be done well, but you have to have very obvious markers to avoid the problem caused by 'I' suddenly meaning a whole different person.

    Oh, and I think since Ish is female and Ian is male the similarity of their names is less problematic. (Although Ish has an extremely weird name. Is there a story reason for this, or is it random?)
     
  11. Bluesman
    Offline

    Bluesman Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    1
    It can be very powerful. Tom Wolfe does this brilliantly.

    Although I can imagine it can be done in many wrong ways, too.
     

Share This Page