1. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Too many POV?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by madhoca, Dec 6, 2008.

    I recently 'finished' my novel (85,000 words), but after putting it away for 3 months and then coming back to it, I'd be the first to admit that it needs substantial re-writing.

    It's about 3 women (neighbours) living in a foreign country. They are different ages (early 20s, mid 30s, and mid 40s), have fairly different backgrounds, and their circumstances are not the same.

    The thing they have in common is that they are trying to get to grips with living in the foreign country, and at the same time, they have to come to terms with what made them leave their home country in the first place. As well as their own actions, various external happenings in their marriages, economic circumstances etc. affect their lives. (Probably too many external events, I'm working on that!)

    I have read other novels which have action spaced between 2 or more POV, but I am worried that this is too unorthodox, or maybe I just don't have the skill to pull it off. The justaposition of the 3 POV was important for me when I got the original idea--the weary 'seen it/been there' of the older woman (whose story has a slightly higher weighting), the dewy-eyed newcomer, and the other woman who is optimistic to the point of masochism as her life starts to collapse.

    The advice and comments I've read on these forums recently has been very helpful, but I'm still wrestling with the above conundrum--and spending too much time, probably flicking this tab on and off. I can't figure it out--HELP!?
     
  2. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    Having multiple point of views is fine. Actually, if you're trying to show the chaos invovled in the women's lives, it may actually help the story. Just work to make things not as confusing and make sure that the reader knows which of the characters you're writing about at a specific moment. I hope this helps!
     
  3. Daedalus
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    Daedalus Active Member

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    Depends on how you're breaking up each POV. Abrupt POV changes can be confusing. This is called "head-hopping". It's where you jump from one POV to the other without having a transition sentence. The transition sentence can be anything from a change of character dialogue, to line breaks (******).

    That being said, a lot of authors head-hop and claim that because they know the rules, they can break them. Doesn't make it any less confusing.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In general, you should stick with a single point of view in a scene. I have seen writers break this guideline without losing the reader, but far more often the reader is left feeling disoriented and disconnected from the scene.
     
  5. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks a lot for all your thoughts. I'll work to neaten up the changes from one POV to another, with less of the little snippy transitions back and forth. I'm sure my writing is convoluted enough without making things more complicated. Just as long as you think that it can sometimes work (in theory at least).
     
  6. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I read the original post and was wondering what the problem even was. :D I'm so used to writing numerous POVs within one story (FAR more than just three) that I was puzzled. The other posts are right, as long as you come up with a clear way to separate the POVs (preferably with scene or chapter breaks), it can work--just avoid headhopping.
     
  7. perfectionist
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    perfectionist Member

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    As an example of Too Many Points of Veiw, you could look at Jean Paul Sartre's The Reprieve, though it is heavy reading.
    This book is possibly the most extreme case you will ever find of POV swapping between unrelated characters in parallel situations, Sartre happily swaps midsentence between characters hundreds of miles apart.

    Sartre, however was something of a master of the written word, and the technique was something of an experiment. I suggest you stick to the rules people suggested! ;)

    ~Tom
     
  8. cwpcreator
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    cwpcreator Member

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    Generally, I try to remain with one character for a chapter. At each chapter I might hop into another POV, but with that chapter break in between. It's usually on accident that I switch POV's in the same chapter.
     

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