1. destiny101
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    destiny101 New Member

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    Switching POVs in a story? Good or bad?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by destiny101, May 10, 2009.

    What is your opinion on switching the point of view from character to character in a story? In the book I'm working on right now, I tell the story from 4 different points of view, switching to the next character every chapter. On one hand I like it because I can cover a lot of ground and really develop the different characters, but at the same time I worry that the story jumps from place to place too much and might annoy the reader. What do you think about changing points of view?
     
  2. john k
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    john k Member

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    No, its not bad at all if done right. "No More Dead Dogs" does the different POV changes very well. The only thing to make sure of is that the readers understand that the POV has changed. Even if you have to make it obvious.
     
  3. JGraham
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    JGraham Senior Member

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    Well i would say it depends on how you do it. I do this in my novel and i like it just fine. You have to make sure it all fits and flows. When you change POV's you must make sure it is correct, because not every character will know what the last one did, so things like character identities will be hidden when they first meet. Overall i like this style. Michael Crichton did this very well in alot of his novels. So i would say it is good. Like you said you cover more and it just seems to tell the story better.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's an often-used technique, and can work well if you manage your transitions well to prevent the reader from becoming disoriented.
     
  5. daydreamer
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    daydreamer Contributing Member

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    I think it can work fine in novels so long as it isn't too frequent and made clear. I prefer a new chapter for each POV. I read a book called The Outcast where the author kept switching and it drove me mad (as well as her overuse of "and"). I didn't know who I was meant to be.

    My personal view in short stories is that you should stick to one POV
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Short stories are not generally divided into chapters. Destiny did refer to a book and swirching on chapter boundaries.

    But even a short story can successfully switch POVs, preferably on scene boundaries. For example, in Cold Vengeance, I switch viewpoints between the main character and his pursuer.
     
  7. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are lots of books out there that tell the story in third person, one character's pov at a time, but using multiple characters. Sometimes you need to do that because the characters are doing different things in different places and the reader needs to know everything that happens.
     
  8. TheHedgehog
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    TheHedgehog Contributing Member Contributor

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    As everyone else said, it can work fine if you execute it well. My Sister's Keeper is quite famous now and it heavily utilized that technique. As everyone else said as well, make sure the reader knows what's happening and keep it realistic by having each character having limited knowledge according to the plot and make sure your voice varies accordingly for each character. :)
     
  9. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    I think its interesting when done right. I sort of prefer to read stories told from one point of view though. But it depends.
     
  10. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    I don't mind pov switching in 3rd person writing. I'd rather see it avoided in most first person writing, however, because few writers can handle one character written from first person, let alone two. I have done some switching in 1st person before, but only in fanfiction and I had someone collaborating with me. It's very hard to immerse yourself fully in two different characters when it comes to first person writing, so I personally prefer to avoid it.

    As for third person, p.o.v. switching can work extremely well and most of the novels I read in third person utilize it, so it's fairly common. It can be kinda funny though when you're reading something and realize that the author put in the wrong name by accident :p

    ~Lynn
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    This is one of the major reasons for sticking with third person writing. Not only can you switch POVs more readily, it's also easier to "rubber band" your POV - keep it anchored on the same character, but vary the distance in time, displacement, and emotion as needed by the demands of the story.
     
  12. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Jonathon Stroud's The Amulet of Samarkand is unusual in repect of pov because it switches between 3rd person pov (the boy) and 1st person pov (the djinni). It's very clearly divided between the chapters to avoid confusion.
     
  13. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    What some have failed to mention is that disorientation is REALLY not the problem for a decent writer.

    Jake was ready to go.

    Chapter 2:

    Alex was riding a horse in the country side, wishing he was with Jake in the city.



    Simple.

    The problem with switching the way you do is this: No one cares about your other characters.
    What I mean is, if they are engulfed in the story of a certain character, then what is their motivation to care about another? It's like an interruption.


    And Alex charged into the belly of the BEAST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Chapter 3: [The reader is presently licking his lips, turning the page with trembling fingers, anxious to discover what happens]

    While that interesting story is occurring, let's bring you back to Jake who is having tea.

    [ The reader, thusly, explodes in annoyance ]
     
  14. RIPPA MATE
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    RIPPA MATE Contributing Member

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    Ask your self the question. How many points of view do i need to tell the story?

    If it takes 2, then use 2, if it takes 18 then use 18 POV.
     
  15. Catastrophe
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    Catastrophe New Member

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    Hahaha... My story basically thrives on switching POV. I think I've gone through at least twenty "focus" characters over the years.

    If a part of the story needs to be told and the current POV can't tell it, switch to one that can, if only for that part. For my story I basically threw the concept of a single main focus character out the window.
     

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