1. O'ree Williams

    O'ree Williams Member

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    Shifting Point of View. Thoughts?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by O'ree Williams, Jan 27, 2017.

    Greetings fellow writers,
    In my project, I am writing in the 3rd person limited POV. However, there are parts in my tale that just cannot be done with that particular POV. I feel that an omniscient POV serves the purpose better, particularly in the parts where exposition is needed. However, I have been chastised for doing so, saying that it makes the tale confusing. My personal opinion is that yes it can be done, provided it's done well. That said, I am for ideas on how to do this gracefully. Any tips you have would be most appreciated.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I think JK Rowling had the right approach: she often began chapters with an omniscient POV and then 'zoomed in' to Harry's POV, where it would stay for the rest of the chapter. It takes out the issues with sliding in and out of POVs mid-chapter. Would that work for what you want to do?
     
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  3. O'ree Williams

    O'ree Williams Member

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    That's kind of the route I was thinking too. Thanks for your input.
     
  4. xanadu

    xanadu Contributor Contributor

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    First of all, I hesitate at your saying "where exposition is needed." It may just be word choice, but that gives me a knee-jerk reaction. I'd strongly caution against exposition, at least from the POV of an omniscient narrator.

    Shifting POV is perfectly fine. However, shifting between 3rd limited and 3rd omniscient is a bit odd. Keep in mind, not all 3rd limited POVs are created equal--you can have as much or as little distance as you'd like with 3rd limited, and you certainly can switch from one character to another (as long as you make it clear whose head your in--or have a specific creative reason not to). But choosing 3rd limited means you want to use the tools available to you with that POV, right? Those tools are a blending of the narrative with the character's perspective, rather than keeping the objective voice of an omniscient narrator.

    I also question your assessment that the exposition is needed. I think readers need a lot less information than we writers sometimes think they do. As a reader myself (and this usually goes for most media as well), if I haven't been told something, I assume I'm not supposed to know it and will go along with the story regardless. Now, of course that means you'll need to make good on your promise later, but exposition is often better served through small bites scattered throughout and within context of the scene they're introduced in.

    Shifting to omniscient for the sole purpose of giving exposition is getting dangerously close to info-dumping territory :)
     
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  5. O'ree Williams

    O'ree Williams Member

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    Very insightful, thanks for your perspective. It's responses like these that I sincerely appreciate, as they help me to see things from different points of view.
     
  6. Lyrical

    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    Have you heard the podcast "Writing Excuses?" You might be interested. They just covered this exact topic last week. They explore the ways in which variable POV's can be used successfully. They're all successful, published authors with a wide array of genres and styles between them, so it's an engaging and interesting discussion. I recommend it as you develop this idea.
     
  7. O'ree Williams

    O'ree Williams Member

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    Excellent!!! I will check it out! Many thanks.
     
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  8. O'ree Williams

    O'ree Williams Member

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    do you happen to know which episode # it is?
     
  9. Lyrical

    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    Season 12, Episode 4. It's called Hyrbid Viewpoints.
     
  10. O'ree Williams

    O'ree Williams Member

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    cool... just found it. Thanks again!
     
  11. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I agree with the worry about the idea that exposition is needed. Can you perhaps offer an example/explanation? It doesn't even need to be from your book.
     
  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I don't see this as a problem per se. I think @Tenderiser makes a good point regarding Rowling. For all of these sorts of shifts in POV and the like, you can find plenty of examples of published authors doing it. If your readers are telling you it is confusing, it may not be the technique but your application of it. Maybe you're just shifting in a confusing manner. I don't think it has to be necessary in order to justify it (very little is strictly necessary when it comes to these sorts of topics), but I do think it has to be done well, and you should consider whether other approaches might be more effective (or easier to pull off).
     
  13. O'ree Williams

    O'ree Williams Member

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    Thanks all. My definition of exposition would be something along the lines of backstory. Without going into my project, the scene I created started out showing the aftermath of a battle. I used the omniscient POV to describe what said aftermath looked like. I then changed over to 3rd person limited to tell about what happened to one particular character during said battle. I will go back and look at the application of how I used the different POV's to see if anything can be tweaked.

    Many thanks all.
     
  14. Adam Kalauz

    Adam Kalauz Member

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    I would also check out Iain M Banks - he does quite a bit of 3rd omniscient to describe wierd and wonderful places, and then zooms in to characters. The trick I guess is to use it sparingly. and keep it succinct.

    I've found I use exposition when I want to set up an important bit of context around a tale, rather than making the reader figure it out, like an exotic setting or an unusual ritual.

    I'm not sure it works as well for moving your plot along. When 'things' are happening, I would always want to have a character or person in the middle of it, just to experience it.

    Good luck.
     
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  15. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Aunt? Supporter Contributor

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    Anyone referencing Iain M. Banks is all right in my book, and yeah, he has pages and pages of pure, omniscient infodumps. Massive stuff that shouldn't be allowed anywhere. IMHO, the way he gets away with it it by (usually) ending the dump on some sort of a joke that lets the reader have a laugh, assimilate the information, and forget about the fact that she's just read several hundred words of stuff that there's no way for her to know.

    For example, in The Algebraist, Banks begins an infodump explaining the history of the alien Dwellers that goes from the middle of p157 to the middle of p161 (trade paperback version). While it explains a lot about the aliens, it includes several amusing tidbits, including one of Banks' trademark monster sentences (top of p160):

    before ending up with the sentences:

    Four flipping pages of infodump, but there's a payoff in the middle, and another one at the end, to distract (or avoid distracting?) the reader, and then it zooms back in to the story in progress. As a reader, it works for me. As a writer, I can only hope to be able to pull it off, if needed, someday.
     
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  16. U.G. Ridley

    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid

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    Man, now I really want to read this guy's stuff.
     

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