1. all48

    all48 New Member

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    Understanding the POV I'm Using

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by all48, May 23, 2020 at 2:57 AM.

    Hello everyone. I'm new to writing and am working on my first novel, a historical fantasy based in the 19th century. I've spent a good amount of time trying to make sure I have the POV within my story correct.

    I'm using two different POVs based on if my main character is in the scene or not. Switching POVs is only done at the chapter level.

    For any scene with my main character, my POV is limited third person, with depth of view changing slightly depending on the scene.

    For scenes where my main character is not present, I think I'm using an omniscient but not certain, and I'm wondering if someone can confirm for me. I'd like to know if I am or not, so that I can better understand what I'm doing from a technical perspective. The narration I use in these scenes helps provide the reader with a sense of the room, elements or events that everyone in the scene would be aware of. I do not zoom into any individual persons thoughts or observations, only describing what is generally known to all. Even if I have a scene with two people, the narration is limited to the physical characteristic of the environment, never the individual person. I don't go into any knowledge of the world outside the scene, keeping it anchored as tightly as possible to the present environment. So, I feel this is omniscient, but just at a higher altitude. It's not really "God like", I believe, due to limitations I've imposed for the view. Is that correct?
     
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  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Pimpin' ain't easy, but it sure is fun.... Contributor

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    It might be Objective POV. It's almost the inverse of Omni: you're never in anybody's head so the knowable universe stops before we reach the character level. Cormac McCarthy does it a lot.

    Tough to tell without seeing it, but it sounds like you have a grasp on how POVs and Omni works, so you're probably on the right track regardless.
     
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  3. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks for that, Homer. I have never heard of Objective POV before, but this makes total sense. So there are never any 'thoughts or feelings' expressed in Objective POV? The reader has to guess what these might be simply by observing what the characters say and do?

    It might be difficult to use that POV well, because it invites info-dumps, too much clinical description, and excessively-distanced character portrayal. Not to mention it also invites over-use of dialogue to convey character and information. (I'm not a fan of Cormac McCarthy, by the way. However, he is a wildly successful author, so some people do like that approach.) But it's good to have a name for it.

    In skilled hands, it might be just the right approach to take.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020 at 7:38 AM
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  4. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Pimpin' ain't easy, but it sure is fun.... Contributor

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    I think so. That's how I've always seem it described. Somebody with more experienced in literary analysis could probably explain it better than I.

    I can't think of anyone other than McCarthy that uses it. I only know what it is because that's how I've heard McCarthy's style explained. I'm sure there's other instances, but I haven't seen them anywhere. In his case there are zero info-dumps (though plenty of painstaking descriptions) and extremely sparse dialogue, with No Country for Old Men being a slight expression. I don't how he does it but there is never any confusion as to what the characters' thoughts, feelings, and motivations are. It's just there somewhere with no special explanation needed.

    But McCarthy is not human, so all stylistic comparisons to his jam are woefully inadequate.
     
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  5. all48

    all48 New Member

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    Yes! Thanks. I looked at some articles describing objective POV, and it appears it matches how I've been writing scenes that don't include my protagonist. For some reason my mind was stuck on omniscient.

    Objective POV, as I now understand it, fits well into the way I'm developing my plot. I need the characters to show through actions and dialog what they’re doing, but not any motivation or rational that has not been spoken. The reader must come to those conclusions, as must the protagonist. Although the protagonist reaches conclusions from information and actions that she’s aware of, the reader will reach similar conclusions from witnessing the other characters.
     
  6. Xoic

    Xoic Active Member

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    Objective is also known as Cinematic for obvious reasons. It's like a movie, in that all you have is the visual and audio, plus whatever information the narrator supplies, which I guess would be equivalent to a voiceover in a movie.

    I think the reason you were thinking about Omniscient (so was I) is because of the scenes with no character present to serve as the POV vehicle. I'm no expert at this stuff—far from it, in fact I'm just learning about it, which is why I'm interested in the answer.

    I'm wondering if it's OK in Objective to have scenes like that, something happening in a field for instance where no characters are present to see it. That does sound like an Omniscient thing. But then, another name for Objective is 'fly on the wall', and a fly could certainly see things like that. I don't remember seeing this addressed in my recent spate of info-gathering on POV. Hopefully somebody who knows these things can comment.
     
  7. Xoic

    Xoic Active Member

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    I've been searching and so far every article I find says basically the same thing—the narrator is impartial and objective and has no access to characters' thoughts and feelings. But no mention of whether it can witness events free and clear of any characters.

    My own conjecture—yeah, I think it can. Because it's a disembodied narrater, like in Omniscient.

    I think it can witness any event that's important to the story, even if it's halfway around the world, or on another world. Objective reality is not dependent on an observer to exist.

    If I'm right (and I think I am, it would be hard to tell a story in Objective if you're tethered to characters) then it's a lot like Omniscient, just without the ability to drop inside various characters' heads.
     

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