1. Beth
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    Beth Member

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    Switching POV

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Beth, Sep 6, 2008.

    Hi all,
    I know this question has been made millions of times, but I'm too confused to look through past threads right now.

    In the chapter I've been working on there are two women who are in an emergency waiting room. One is the mother of the MC (who has attempted suicide), the other woman is the MC's best friend. Both of them are waiting to have news on the guy. The two women have met just once in the past and they hate each other, so they just sit waiting but don't talk to each other. What I want to do is to switch POV from one to the other 4 or 5 times through the chapter but I don't really know how to.
    The MC's mother's name is Lydia, and the other woman is called Pat.
    So far I referred to one or the other just by using their name, but I'm not sure I can do that when passing through the character's close POV. So for Pat, Lydia wouldn't be Lydia, but Tommy's mother, and for Lydia, Pat wouldn't be Pat, but "that woman". My main doubt is how to properly use this trick, I'm afraid it may sound weird or confusing to reader.
    Any suggestions? :)
     
  2. Aurora_Black
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    Aurora_Black Contributing Member

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    Man i've seen POV's switch like sixty times in the Animorphs stories but it was by chapters and a little picture showing which character was speaking on the new chapter page. Thats pretty difficult though o_O

    An easier way is the scene change stars. Use "* * * * *" spaced to show a new scene or character POV. I'm no expert on the subject but i've used it in my fanfic I posted and it didn't seem to cause any problems.
     
  3. Beth
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    Beth Member

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    Yes I was thinking to put a blank line when changing POV so each of the women would have her own block. But I don't know if that's enough.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    A blank line is the best way to do this since you aren't changing chapters.
     
  5. Beth
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    Beth Member

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    Ok, that's fine to distinguish whose POV it is. But my doubt is subtler.

    I'll try to illustrate it.

    Block 1 Pat

    Chapter starts with Pat, sitting in the emergency waiting room. Her thoughts go back to when she found Tommy lying on the floor of his apartment.

    Blank line

    Block 2 Lydia

    Lydia is in a taxi and she's going to the hospital. She thinks about her son dying. She reaches the hospital and enters the waiting room. She asks if her son is there, and does not notice Pat at first.

    Blank line

    Block 3 Pat

    Here comes my doubt.
    Pat hears Tommy's name, she turns her head and recognizes Lydia. As it's told through her POV I won't say something like “Pat stared at Lydia who just entered”, but “Pat stared at the woman who just entered”, or “Pat stared at Tommy's mother”. (I'm simplifying).

    And so on, going back to Lydia, who would see "that woman who she met years back and she never liked".


    If the POV was the omniscent narrator's I could say “Pat stared at Lydia”, or "Lydia recognized Pat" but I chose to have closer POV here. My question is “does it sound weird”?
     
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    It doesn't sound weird at all. Just make sure you're clear in both POVs.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A blank line won't work any magic in signalling a POV change. The writing itself is where you need to show the transitions. Also, with multiple POVs, it becomes more important to establish a narrative voice for each POV, a voice that echoes the character's background and way of thinking.
     
  8. Beth
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    Beth Member

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    Thanks Cogito, do you think I can attach the chapter here in this thread? So far it's 2000 words.
     
  9. Ommonite
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    Ommonite Senior Member

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    I don't recommend it. At all.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sorry, but no. You will have to use the Review Room forums for that, after meeting the reviewing requirements.
     
  11. Beth
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    Beth Member

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    I thought so.
    Anyway, thanks for all your replies. ;)
     
  12. CobaltLion
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    CobaltLion Member

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    I write from first person perspective, and although my method for switching POV is diffrent from what you mentioned, I think it might work. I'd of course follow Cogito's advice for making sure the "voice" of the characters sounds diffrent.

    If you'd like to PM or email me a section of it, I'd be happy to look over it myself for you and give you my thoughts.

    (I'm allowed to do that, right?)
     
  13. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    In Swan's Song McCammon does a lot of switching POV's. He breaks each POV into a chapter. Each chapter is a short scene, usually only a few pages. Once the MCs meet up and are in the same town, if I recall right, he does scene changes in a chapter if he wants to us more than one POV. The most important thing, regardless if it is a scene break or a new chapter, is the transitions.

    Books that do this well in my opinion are, Swan's Song, Dune, and The Shinning. Well worth your while to study a few chapters from each.
     

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