1. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Two vital characters in same scene

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by BFGuru, Aug 15, 2014.

    I've generally written 3rd person limited omniscient, allowing myself into one character's head at a time. I may keep the same character for a few chapters (though I haven't pieced things into chapters yet, since I am writing scenes as they hit me), but I wait until a good chapter/scene shift to change points of view.

    I have a story where both boy and mother are vital characters and it's been working so far until this latest scene. By the time I finished writing, I had been in both of their heads and thoughts were coming from each of them. I'm concerned this will be confusing to my reader, but it almost seems important in this particular scene to see how each character responds internally to the change of events.
     
  2. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    In one of the novels I am writing, I used a similar style; in fact I didn't really have a chapter dedicated to one point-of-view but usually a single chapter split into several POVs. I can't say if it worked because it's not finished yet, but I believe if you can clearly delineate who's thinking what (split it into paragraphs) it should work, and in fact could be fun. Here's a short snippet, and you can be the judge of if it works.

    Lajwanti groaned and arrogantly placed her hand on his plan, as though a little girl trying to grasp attention from her overworked father. She didn’t like this attitude; she wanted him to care how she treated him. If he had given up already, it just wasn’t fun. And if he thought this was his great plan to make her confident or something—it was not fun either. She wanted something to happen. Hanaan, in response to her childish antics, looked up at her irritably. What statement was she trying to make by stealing his attention? It made him happy in a sewn corner of his heart, as it meant she was indeed one of those feminist females who hankered for attention, but at the same time she was like an obsessive fly hovering above his head.

    “Do you have a problem, Miss Sakaleshwar?”

    Hanaan gritted his teeth, striking her a raised eyebrow. Lajwanti sighed and backed away, placing her hands on the sides of her waist, as if her back was in excruciating pain. She looked around to see if anyone was amassing any gossip from their interaction, and luckily enough no one was so she decided to initiate small talk instead.

    “Do you pray to God, Mr. Rafay?”

    Hanaan looked up at her, quite puzzled. It was really the last topic he expected her to speak about given the circumstances and he himself being so relaxed about it.
     
  3. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Yours was mostly from one point of view and I think it works well for your scene... mine well it starts from the view point of an 8 year old little boy, then mom comes on the scene and goes back to her, then everyone is together and it goes back to him then back to her.... It's kind of long but if you're willing to read it and give some feedback as to if the point of view change works I would appreciate it. If not...just scroll on by. The entire scene is almost 2k words so I just cut to the end where both thoughts are in the same scene.

    Dinner was somewhat delayed with pulling extra place settings out. Anna left the children in Mabel O’ Reileys’s care as she ran to the cellar in search of Eddie’s old high chair and diapers. The diapers would need washed and she hoped the youngster was close to being toilet trained, but, John was small for his age. The trauma of being ripped from home had probably set him back, and she recalled Eddie being almost three and a half before mastering his bodily functions. He would not reach the table in a regular chair, but the highchair would bring him up high enough to join the family for the meal. It was covered in dust, so she took a moment to wipe it down with a rag from the kitchen sink before placing it beside her at the table.

    Once grace had been said and the children were served, Anna served herself and Miss. O’ Reiley. Eddie sat quietly, unsure of what to say to the children. They looked sad, he was sure he’d miss his mother if he had to leave. He knew his missed his father, and ran to the post box every day hoping for a letter. His evenings were spent drawing pictures Mother would send with letters back to him, and some nights he’d write a few words himself, but spelling was still difficult so he didn’t write often.

    Eddie reached for a forkful of peas. They promptly fell back to his plate. He tried again, only to have the vegetables fall once more. John had caught sight of this and mimicked the boy across from him. When Eddie saw the toddler drop the peas to the floor he made a snorting sound as he tried to stifle a giggle and intentionally dropped the peas to his plate again. The game had officially begun and Eddie smiled at his partner in crime, then looked at his mother, hoping not to get in trouble for playing with his food. Surprisingly, his mother had her elbows on the table with her hands clasped at her face where he distinctly saw a smile hiding behind her hands. It was then that something wet struck him in the temple and he turned to see his new foster brother throw an entire handful of peas at him.

    Emily picked at the food on her plate, but from her position across from the girl, Anna could see her relaxing, and in spite of the mess that would need cleaned later, she was grateful for the momentary break in tension. Dinner could be eaten later. Anna could tell Emily wanted to laugh, or at least smile. The child was a wreck, and needed any moment of respite from her fears she could garner.

    Suddenly her home was full again, Anna thought. Her husband may still be gone, and danger may be present every day for him, but she could see her heart beginning to fall for these precious two, and her son growing into a strong young man as their older brother. This is going to be o.k. she thought, and determined rations or mix ups be damned, all three of them were hers now.
     
  4. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    I rushed through this but at surface, it seemed to mesh well. I guess I'd be careful with what ideas I let on from children, but the rest seems okay. As for being from one POV, surely you jest: D granted the snippet I've posted is way too short, Hanaan and Lajwanti are shuffling the POV back and forth.
     
  5. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Eddie is who the story is about, so his thoughts are essential to the plot line. Why does he fall for the woman he runs into as an adult? Well, they spend their entire childhood together. (Not a foster). These two are the primary mains. And I am a strong believer that children are not shallow. There is much to work off of. Much to toy with within their minds. Spend a day with mine and you will see the dichotomy that is their minds.
     
  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I've also read your spoiler episode.

    I had to work through a similar problem in my novel. While I didn't present both POVs in the same scene, I did end up swapping them, in the end. The transformation was interesting. I got a much stronger scene from the male's POV than I did in my original version, when I used the female's POV. Turned out it was HIS reaction, not hers, that really mattered. While she was the POV, we could only guess at what he was feeling. When he was the POV, we KNEW what he was feeling.

    The longer you spend inside one character's head, the more involved we become as readers. Hopping in and out of heads can help you tell the story more efficiently, explaining why each character does what he or she does, but you sacrifice immersion in a particular character's perspective if you do that. And sometimes it's not clear which character's reaction is the most important.

    When I finished reading your excerpt, I had a good idea of what had just happened, and you told me what each character's thoughts were ...but I didn't really feel anything for either of them. I wasn't 'with' either of them long enough to build any kind of emotional rapport.

    Nothing wrong with that at all, but the scene will have a different—and maybe stronger—impact, if you stay in only one head.
     
  7. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is fun, that people are thinking about how to do this multi-perspective thing and when and why, instead of just clamping down and saying "Headhopping is Against teh Roooolzzzzzz!!!"

    As I revise my old novella I'm getting rid of some inadvertent changes in POV by being deliberate about giving scenes either to my heroine or my hero and keeping the demarcation clear. But the scene is coming up where they will declare their love for one another and darn it, I like the way I have it now, with the POV being tossed back and forth like a ball in a game.

    I was thinking I would have to change it in order to play by Teh Rooooollzz, but maybe not?

    I think I have it written so the reader will know exactly whose head I'm in, which is the main thing, yes?
     
  8. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Except for suggesting a minor paragraphing change or two, this is pretty clear as to whose head we're in at any given time. But I'll refrain from saying more, lest I forget I'm not in the Workshop and you didn't ask for a crit! :D
     
  9. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    It's all good Catrin. I'm too overwhelmed with work and school and my volunteer work to have time to critique other works
    on top of my writing, so if you felt impressed, go ahead. I would post there, but that's more homework for me LOL.
     
  10. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are you saying you don't have enough critique points earned to post your own work on the WS?

    I think it would be a delight to have a novel with the setting, etc., of yours over there (I'm not that keen on futuristic warfare, ya know?).
     
  11. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    No, I've both critiqued and been critiqued. I'm just saying I'm reserving energies for my book and self critique right now. I don't have time to put into critiquing other works right now until I settle into my school routine. I tend to take a good amount of time when I critique in the WS, so I can actually be beneficial to the authors.
     
  12. J.W.Exeter
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    Headhopping is against the rules unless you are George R. R. Martin.
    That just seems silly to me. I'm going to headhop, do it as well as I can, and let my readers decide.
     
  13. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    I head hop between chapters, so a scene featuring two or three heads will get treatments from one view or the other, with a break in between if a switch is needed. I always find it interesting to show the viewpoint of one person, leaving us crippled and wanting the 'other side'...and teasing and making the reader wait a bit for it.
     

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