1. InkDream
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    InkDream Senior Member

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    writing with multiple POVs

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by InkDream, Nov 8, 2009.

    I've read a few books that were written in first person but switched off between characters. For instance, some chapters are from Character A's p.o.v. and some from character B and sometimes even C and D.

    What do you think about switching p.o.v. like that?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Here is a relevant thread.

    And here is another discussion about it.
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    In general, I loathe it. In fact, I dislike changing POV at all in a novel. However, if it does for the right reasons (rather than for convenience) and done by a very skilled author, it can work. The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis switches between various characters in first person present, and it is a great book, but he's one of the greatest living authors and in general I would advise against it unless you have a very, very good reason for doing it.
     
  4. Twisted Inversely
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    Twisted Inversely Senior Member

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    I like generally like POV switching. If done wrong it can result in the exact same information being relayed to the reader again and again. Seeing events from another persons POV is all very interesting, don't try to avoid it by all means, but it can be overdone.
     
  5. InkDream
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    InkDream Senior Member

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    I didn't realize this had already been discussed.

    Still, I like the possibilities it presents. :rolleyes:
     
  6. Carbon
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    Carbon Member

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    Just to reiterate some points, it gets mixed opinions. I generally have no problem with it as long as it serves a purpose. You really just have to make sure you're clear about when and to whom you switch POV.
     
  7. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    This seems to come up often.:rolleyes:

    Some of my favourite authors switch POV with every chapter break. The story cycles through up to a dozen characters and it works beautifully.

    If your story requires a POV shift, then that's how you have to write it. If it isn't essential, then, as with anything nonessential, it's probably fluff and should be avoided.

    My two cents.
     
  8. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I switch PoV characters all the time, but never in First Person.

    I do it so I can usually give the readers a better look at whats happening. Some characters will see things that the others dont. Some will react differently to a given situation. I do this alot with my NaNoWriMo novel. It helped me to develop my central cast, and give a different look at the characters days on the first day of the Zombie Apocalypse.

    Not sure if I am really pulling it off... but oh well I can edit and fix any mistakes during December :p
     
  9. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    I really think it depends on the quality of the writing and less on the POV switching. I've read both, good and bad writing with and without POV switching, really you only notice the bad writing. I've seen books written in FP POV that switched POV at the start of each chapter, following a different character through a time line of events, then switching to the next character continuing along the same time line...like character A is followed for two weeks, Character B picks up where A left off and is followed for a month, then Character C picks up where B left off...ect.

    I've read TP POV where there is a switch between two or three characters within a single chapter. Doing that has to have a good flow to it, otherwise it is too abrupt and can take you out of the story.

    As long as you don't jump from one character's head to another's in the same paragraph, giving the reader the feeling of head hopping, then you are fine. Switching once per chapter seems the most common way to do it in adult books, but in YA and younger chapter books it is more common to be in TP POV and switch within chapters.

    It all depends on the writing quality.
     
  10. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I'm weary to do it myself because I generally don't like reading it. You always take that risk when writing from more than one POV because the reader may like character A and his story, but not character B and her story.

    I remember when I first started reading Swan Song, I always stopped because it cycled between three MCs all in different parts of the world. It felt like a damn soap opera, which I dislike. I'm glad I stuck to it, though. After a while I loved all the character and their stories and how they all come together in the end. Great novel, BTW, by Robert McCammon. Better than The Stand, IMO, and it is similar to The Stand.

    When Dean Koontz switches POVs I don't mind because when he does it, he only does it briefly, and it is to get into the bad guy's head. He has short chapters written from the antagonist's POV.

    Of my five novels, I've only written a multiple POV novel once, and in it, I only switch to the antagonist's POV for short chapters.

    I believe any story can be told from a single POV, but some stories will be stronger by use of multiple points of view.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You should avoid changing POVs within a scene. There are writers who know how to pull it off (Frank Herbert being one of them, but his son Brian makes a mess of it), but in general it tends to be disorienting to the reader.

    POV transitions need to be well managed, and that takes skill that only comes through practice. Chapter boundaries are often a better choice hor POV switches than scene changes within a chapter, and you are usually best off maintaining thord person past tense throughout. First and third are sufficiently distinct in tone (when done properly) that transitions between them tend to be bumpy.
     
  12. eliza490
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    eliza490 Member

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    Changing povs I think actually make stories more interesting. You have to pay more attention to follow what's happening and that makes me feel more engaged in the story.
    ~Eliza
     
  13. Operaghost
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    Operaghost Contributing Member

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    Changing pov in a scene is a difficult thing to do, but could be changed within chapters and not be too jarring, Jodi picault changes viewpoints (though remains in first person) in each chapeter in my sisters keeper and it works well, whilst other authors switch between first and third, such as Jeff Lindsays Dexter in the Dark, but it is something which requires a lot of practice and skill and can easily become a mess.
     

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