1. J.E. Kirkland

    J.E. Kirkland Member

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    Point of view and story formation

    Discussion in 'Point of View, and Voice' started by J.E. Kirkland, Mar 1, 2017.

    I'm posting this because I'm curious how y'all think I should approach this story concept.

    I have been working on this idea for awhile now. It's definitely more character driven than plot driven, though there are some plot points. I feel like the story needs to be told from several character points of view.

    I'm somewhat torn as to how to split the story up. I have thought about having chapters told through different character views, and I've read some books like this.

    The span of the story is technically over multiple centuries, where each character comes from and how they got to where they are in the present part of the story. So one thought is that each chapter is a different character at a different point in time. If well done is this something you'd like to read or something that would be confusing still?

    Alternatively I've thought about different parts. Each part would be a different character's view spanning over their lifetime to the present point.

    I hope this makes sense outside of my own thoughts. haha?
     
  2. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    Different chapters. Keeps reader's interest, even if there are characters they enjoy less.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2017
  3. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I think both ideas show promise. It's all in how it's done.

    I did discover, while writing my own novel, that some readers aren't keen on being shown the same event from two different perspectives, though. I think it can probably be done, and I just didn't quite do it well, but I'd be careful about it. I thought it was a fantastic idea to show how two different people can view the same event quite differently. However, one of my beta readers suggested I pick one or the other POV for each instance where I did this. He said: When I realised I already knew what had happened, I got annoyed at having to read about it twice.

    I took his advice, and in the three instances where I had done this 'double' I picked the better POV for each one, and rewrote it. I think he was right. It works a lot better this way.
     
  4. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Agree. The same event from different POVs can get very close to some sort of omniscient view. The one time I have seen one event described from two or more POVs might be an impending accident, with paragraphs alternating, say, between one person who sees it coming, trying vainly to prevent it, and another who is blithely ignorant of what is about to happen, with the tension being "when is that fool going to wake up and see what is about to happen? Or is he?"
     
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  5. J.E. Kirkland

    J.E. Kirkland Member

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    That's very good advice, thank you. I can see how reading the same thing twice could be annoying. I see how this can work well. Because there will be some events that make sense being shown by certain characters and not others. I could also see how some events may do well being seen from multiple characters.
     
  6. J.E. Kirkland

    J.E. Kirkland Member

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    That would be an interesting sort of scene. Certainly one I would want to see from multiple characters. I've heard of omniscient but what is that exactly? Is that a god-like view?
     
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  7. Arcadeus

    Arcadeus Senior Member

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    I'd say... make sure it starts from furthest back in the past, and moves forward from there. I personally believe that will cure a lot of confusion. It helps if you include for-shadowing and actions that directly effect the next character/s story/ies.
     
  8. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    That is it exactly. It is a god-like POV where you have access to everyone's thoughts and feeling, what each sees, hears, feels, tastes. Difficult to do well and I frankly don't see a reason for doing it. What you are describing sounds like multiple limited POVs, of the same or different events, but each chapter limited to just one. Example: you are writing about WWII, say Saipan. You might have a chapter POV of a US Marine, another by a Japanese soldier, and another by a civilian caught up in the mess, and alternate among the three. Same event, different POVs. Each would see and describe the same macro event totally differently, but they each might experience a their own unique micro-event, so it wouldn't be repetitive. Is this where you may be heading?
     
  9. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    It's kinda godlike. But what it does is show what everybody is thinking and feeling as well as what they're doing at any given time. Something like:

    Fred's heart began hammering as soon as he entered the room. Even as he greeted a few old classmates whom he barely remembered, he was already looking for Sheila. Surely she would be here—and she was. Fred could feel his face grow red. She hadn't changed a bit. She was still the same beautiful girl he'd fallen in love with, so many years ago. He moved towards her, affecting surprise when she finally turned and saw him coming. He extended his hand to shake hers, but he longed to throw his arms around her instead. Sheila took his hand and gave it a quick squeeze before releasing it, just as quickly. She smiled, pretending to be as excited to see him as he obviously was to see her, but she was thinking ...sheesh, he's still wearing the same shirt he had on ten years ago. He'll never change. Not even his damn shirt. Thank god I ran when I did.

    Mary stood a few feet away, watching the two of them, trying not to laugh. Times change, but people never do. There was Fred, as usual, puppydog eyes melting as he leered at Sheila, while Sheila with her kitty claws barely sheathed—as usual—was managing to entice him and dismiss him at the same time. Mary glanced at Brian, who was managing to juggle a cold can of beer, a hot dog and napkin. Brian could tell exactly what Mary was thinking, and he winked at her. She grinned back at him.

    Ye gods, Brian thought. High school. Why in hell are we here again? Really?
     
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  10. J.E. Kirkland

    J.E. Kirkland Member

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    Yes I think that's exactly where I'm heading. Except not all scenes will includes all characters. Depending on the time frame some characters may not be in the story.
     
  11. J.E. Kirkland

    J.E. Kirkland Member

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    Thank you for that example. That really clarifies it! I'm not sure I'd want to write in that view for the same reason I'm not sure I'd like reading it. Have you read any good books from that view that you'd recommend?
     
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  12. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I can't think of any, but if I do, I'll pass the titles on.
     
  13. JE Loddon

    JE Loddon Active Member

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    I would say a chapter for each different character. Need to be careful to make sure the reader knows which character they are reading at any given time. Maybe a slightly different writing style for each character.
     
  14. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    A lot of Kurt Vonnegut's novels are written with an omniscient narrator.
     
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  15. J.E. Kirkland

    J.E. Kirkland Member

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    I'm thinking I'm going to try out chapter for each character. I figure the style will sort of change naturally with each character when reflecting their personality, etc. I've thought about at the heading of each chapter instead of a chapter name simply character name and the year the scene is occurring.
     
  16. J.E. Kirkland

    J.E. Kirkland Member

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    Thank you! I'll look into this! Is there particular one you'd recommend?
     
  17. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    Slaughterhouse-Five :)
     
  18. J.E. Kirkland

    J.E. Kirkland Member

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    That was one of the first ones I saw on Goodreads. I'll check my library for a copy.
     
  19. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. Stop what you're going and go get some Vonnegut. Now.
     
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  20. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    In my opinion, Vonnegut handles an omniscient narrator expertly. I really can't think of better examples.
     
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  21. J.E. Kirkland

    J.E. Kirkland Member

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    I checked it out from the library. :)
     

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