1. GoodSeed

    GoodSeed Banned

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    Trying to make a story flow better

    Discussion in 'Point of View, and Voice' started by GoodSeed, Jan 10, 2022.

    One of my stories takes place in a city, where eight characters (all live in different houses) are tied up in the same plot. They want the council to change a law. They all have families, different jobs and discuss this issue in their homes. Here's my question...I cannot follow one character because he is not in the others' houses at the time they are talking. In my 3rd person pov I find myself jumping from character to character, every chapter introducing a new one or something new they have done. Is this normal to jump around this way ? Of course there is a tie-in and mentions of other characters in every chapter so there is a common thread but I wonder how best to not make it choppy when jumping from one household to another? PS: I cannot reduce the the number of characters, it does not fit with the story.
     
  2. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I don't think anyone can answer this question unless you post it in the workshop so we can actually see what you've got. The information above is just too vague.

    You'll need to do 2 critiques on other people's stories in the workshop before you can post a piece of your own there.
     
  3. GoodSeed

    GoodSeed Banned

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    I am still outlining this story right now so nothing I can post for critique right now. Anyway, I ask because it is essential to outlining knowing how to organise the chapter sequence. If others have worked on a similar issue please feel free to offer your thoughts.
     
  4. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    In that case I think what's called for is to study POV. I can send some good info via PM.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2022
  5. GoodSeed

    GoodSeed Banned

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    Happy to read what you have to send.

    A follow-up .. 1st or 2nd person does not work for the story, neither does 3p limited, so 3rd person Omni is the only option.
     
  6. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Ok, I just finished sending it. It covers all POVs, but just pay attention to the one that's relevant for you.
     
  7. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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  8. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    And one more. This info is included in what I sent over PM, but I want to emphasize it since it deals with transitioning between a close and distant POV—distant meaning objective or omniscient. This is where I first learned about transitioning into and out of things:
     
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  9. Cress Albane

    Cress Albane Active Member

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    Yes. What you're describing sounds a lot like a fantasy novel "Six of Crows". I'm not the biggest fan of that one, but I'd recommend reading it if you're unsure how to make a story with rapidly shifting POVs.

    On a personal note, I prefer stories with multiple POVs. Even better if every POV offers a different worldview. There was a book written from multiple first-person perspectives, where the formating changed depending on which character the prose followed, but I can't remember what it was called. So, yeah, it's so normal that people are looking for different ways to spice up this concept.
     
  10. Hummingbird Alley

    Hummingbird Alley Member

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    The problem with a hard-shift in character perspective is that each time you change characters, you risk losing the reader. They have to come to a full stop and start over. There have been many books that I put down (temporarily) when a new character appeared, because it was a natural stop for the night.

    Here are some ideas...

    1) You could find a tie-in with each of the 8 families. Maybe one of the characters from Chapter 2 makes an appearance with the family in Chapter 1.
    2) It sounds like that law is really the main character of the book. If in each opening, you somehow started with the law's perspective or use the opposing lawyer's opinion on the families as a teaser at the beginning of each chapter?
    3) Is this politically motivated? The 'why' matters. For example, if it is a politically motivated book around eminent domain, you could use each family's anger over losing their home as the connection between chapters. If this is a book targeting an issue you care deeply about, I think you have more leeway in introducing new families with each chapter.
    4) Why do the 8 families have to be unconnected? Couldn't there be one character that ties them all together?
     
  11. Kalisto

    Kalisto Senior Member

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    Okay, POV's. There are three narration styles: 1st person, 3rd person limited, and 3rd person omnipotent. You sound like you're looking to do the 3rd person omnipotent. This is one of the least understood POVs to most readers, I found. I know because I was writing a story in 3rd person omnipotent and I had a lot of reviewers who just weren't having it. "Don't switch POV's!" Why? Was it confusing? "Uhhh, no, but you don't do it. I was told you don't do it." Okay, NPC.

    My take is that yes, you absolutely can switch POVs.

    The problem that writers run into is not using a clear transition between the characters. Using phrases like "in the meantime" or "while that was happening, Character B was" and so on, can make the transition from one POV to the other smooth. Here's an example:

    Bob grew excited as he explained every detail of the plan to the others. He sacrificed everything to get to this point and watching the board nod in approval invigorated him to continue. His voice grew confident and he realized he just might pull it off this time.

    Detrich sat at the end of the table, listening to this nonsense with a scowl on his face. Of course, the younger, "hipper" people on the Board all understood it, or at least, pretended they did. He wasn't impressed, though. In his time he had seen these fast-talking types and they always sounded clever on the surface, but when it came to answering the hard questions, they choked.

    As you can see this is a very awkward POV switch. There were no tags or lead-in to show that we were switching from Bob to Detrich. And while it does make sense, it's just sort of happened. So we have to fix it with a bit of a lead-in.

    Bob grew excited as he explained every detail of the plan to the others. He sacrificed everything to get to this point and watching the board nod in approval invigorated him to continue. His voice grew confident and he realized he just might pull it off this time.

    "Are there any questions?" Bob asked.

    "Yeah! How the hell do you expect to get funding for this, son?" asked the man from the end of the table. Bob was so caught up in his presentation, that he didn't even notice him.

    This was Detrich, or "the Old Man" as the others called him. Over the years, he had seen one young opportunist after another and wasn't impressed with the fast-talking and smooth presentation that Bob just presented. People like Bob always sounded clever, but when it came to the hard questions, they choked.

    This one is a bit smoother. Using dialogue, I smoothed out the switch from one character to another so it wasn't as jarring.

    The other issue is that we see writers switch it too often, and there's not really a reason to do so, especially when all the characters are pretty much experiencing the same thing.
     
  12. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Dog mom Contributor

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    I like shifting points of view, but I prefer the shift to take place between chapters, with a single character's viewpoint in each chapter. Rumer Godden dealt as well with shifting viewpoints and shifting time periods as well as any writer I've ever read. It took me a little while to catch the rhythm of her writing, but once I did, I wished I could emulate it.
     
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  13. ruskaya

    ruskaya Senior Member

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    not a pro, yet very curious
    could you send that to me too? I am aware of how POVs work, but so far I wasn't able to find info that speaks to me, and you always have good sources :superagree:
     
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  14. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Hitting you up via PM.
     
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  15. Thomas Larmore

    Thomas Larmore Senior Member

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    You have a complicated story with a lot of characters. It's tempting to use third person omniscient because you can give the reader all the information you know, but the drawback is that the reader might not empathize with the characters while removed so far from their point of view. And the danger in that is that the reader might lose interest in the story since he doesn't care that much about what happens to the characters.
     

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