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Dark huntress
05-02-2011, 03:37 AM
I am writing in first person, however there are several places in my story where I need to describe an outside scene that none of the characters can see since they are all indoors. When doing this, what POV should be used?

Jamesaritchie
05-02-2011, 03:54 AM
I am writing in first person, however there are several places in my story where I need to describe an outside scene that none of the characters can see since they are all indoors. When doing this, what POV should be used?

If none of the characters can see it, it would have to be omniscient. But I'd advise strongly against mixing in this way. There's always a way to get the information in using first person, or third person limited.

Ryan
05-02-2011, 04:03 AM
I agree with Jamesaritchie. Without knowing the details of your story, I have to ask, how necessary is it for your reader to know about these events before your main characters? Sometimes it's more enjoyable to discover things along with them. Alternatively, could you assume the POV of someone who happens to be present for the events?

jaksen
05-02-2011, 04:08 AM
Well, that is part of using the first person pov. The person can't know what he/she doesn't witness, experience - or is told.

Telling is not always bad. It can be downright fascinating, when done correctly, and when done in the voice of a person (character) who is interesting in and of themselves. Someone stumbles in from a storm, sort of collapses in front of the fire. People (incl. your MC) rush around to get him a drink, a blanket, a cup of grog (whatever) and he manages to tell a story of monsters and mayhem just outside the castle walls before his coat opens and everyone sees the gaping wound in his chest, from which he expires...

Anyhow, don't be afraid of a little 'tell,' when done right and in this case, it can be done right.

Cyia
05-02-2011, 04:12 AM
Can you work in something like a news report or a radio bulletin about the outside scene that would convey the information without your MC being there?

You can always give another character a voice in that scene and let them narrate what's going on, but it's going to read strangely if that character only gets one POV chapter.

Sarah Madara
05-02-2011, 04:25 AM
It depends, IMO: Are you saying the first-person narrator never finds out what's happening outside? If the POV character will get the information one way or the other, then I would probably opt to stay in the first person POV and let the reader learn along with the POV character.

If, on the other hand, you want the reader to know something that the POV character cannot ever know (and you are 100% sure of this decision), then you probably want to go to omniscient for those scenes.

If the book is written in first person past tense, then it's unusual for the narrator to not have access to all the information that is crucial to the story. I'm not into hard and fast rules, so I won't say not to do it. However, I think that sort of unconventional approach requires extra finesse to pull it off without irritating the reader.

maestrowork
05-02-2011, 04:55 AM
I am writing in first person, however there are several places in my story where I need to describe an outside scene that none of the characters can see since they are all indoors. When doing this, what POV should be used?

Find another way to reveal that information, or else you'd have to write the whole thing in omniscient.

Ask yourself: is it really important to describe the scene(s) that none of your characters could witness?

A storyteller isn't a record-keeper. You don't need to tell everything. You need to find a way to reveal information outside of the POV.

maestrowork
05-02-2011, 04:57 AM
If, on the other hand, you want the reader to know something that the POV character cannot ever know (and you are 100% sure of this decision), then you probably want to go to omniscient for those scenes.

It's usually a bad idea to mix POVs like that, especially just for plot convenience. Who is telling the story? The first person narrator? Or an omniscient narrator? When a writer does that, I'd say he or she lacks the discipline and a change like that would also jar me out of the story.

Sarah Madara
05-02-2011, 05:16 AM
It's usually a bad idea to mix POVs like that, especially just for plot convenience. Who is telling the story? The first person narrator? Or an omniscient narrator? When a writer does that, I'd say he or she lacks the discipline and a change like that would also jar me out of the story.

I disagree. Any and all combinations of POVs can and have been used with great success by talented writers making artistic choices that worked.

Manuel Royal
05-02-2011, 05:29 AM
When I've seen this done, often the third-person descriptive passages (either omniscient or limited) are in italics to distinguish them from the main narrative.

maestrowork
05-02-2011, 05:46 AM
I disagree. Any and all combinations of POVs can and have been used with great success by talented writers making artistic choices that worked.

Can you give me a few examples where a mix of first person and omniscient works well in a single work? I'm curious.

Sarah Madara
05-02-2011, 06:13 AM
Can you give me a few examples where a mix of first person and omniscient works well in a single work? I'm curious.

I'll admit that one's hard without some research, as it isn't done much. I believe Bleak House mixes first and omniscient. I think House of Leaves used both forms of narration, and while it's not everyone's cup of tea, I certainly liked it.

I've mentioned Freedom a number of times in POV threads. It does not use 1st person, but rather switches between omniscient, sections of an autobiography written in 3rd person, and regular old close third. While the autobiographical sections are in third person, you never lose awareness of the first person narrator who is telling the story in third, and therefore I'm going to count it :D

I thought you were arguing equally against all shifts in POV. Did I read that wrong? Do you think a shift to close third or a different first person POV is less jarring? It doesn't seem that way to me, but different readers have different preferences.

The other combinations are much more common. I assumed it was because omniscient simply isn't used much anymore, but maybe there's more to it than that. Anyway, a couple of examples just to cover my bases:
- Mixed 1st person was enormously popular in The Help. I personally find that the most jarring of all POV shifts, but I'm just one reader.
- Mixed 1st and third close is done all the time. I recently finished reading Sarah's Key, which was a phenomenal book and the POV shifts worked beautifully.

As I said, including an omniscient POV (or even a close third if it isn't a major character) would be unconventional, and therefore require more finesse.

ETA: How could I forget Faulkner? I'm going to go ahead and guess that the OP isn't shooting for a Faulkneresque (Faulknerian? Fucked up?) novel, but if she is, she can check out The Sound and the Fury.

Very last edit, really: Won't be online for a while, so Maestro, I can't rebut if when you shoot me down... Sorry to abandon the thread mid-argument :D

Dark huntress
05-02-2011, 09:15 AM
Some good answers here. Thank you all.

I can't use my main character because I want to describe the night of her birth. I want it to be emotional and I need to describe the scene to provoke that emotion. Others that are present in the room play no role in the story. They are "extras". The scene for this one part of the chapter will be the MC.

Having someone come in from the outside to describe the scene is not possible nor is a tv or radio broadcast. I can't do it in a flashback since the character was being born and I can't use the mother since she dies during childbirth. There is a very important plot element that occurs here and the reader needs to know. I can think of no other way to do it except perhaps in the omniscient POV.

..the scene is visual and needs to be described. Retelling it later just wouldn't work for the story.

This brief scene will be the first paragraph in the first chapter. After this the MC will take over...much older of course. Maybe use it as a prologue ?

maestrowork
05-02-2011, 09:21 AM
I have no problem with mixing POVs when it make sense, and 1st/3rd mix (in this case, the 1st person narrative reads like diary and personal, but the 3rd limited creates a distance), or 3rd limited multiple is rather common. However, I'm having trouble recalling any books that is a mix of 1st/omniscient. That's why I asked. To me, switching from 1st to omniscient and then back requires a huge shift -- from a very limited form of storytelling (1st person) to an "all-knowing" narrative. It's jarring for that reason: one minute we're in the skin of a character and can only know what he or she knows and thinks and feels, and the next we're told by an all-knowing narrator what else is going on.

To me, it's even more jarring if omniscient is mixed with limited. Now you have TWO 3rd-person narrators: one is all-knowing, and another limited. So which is which? More often than not, what people think is a mix of 3rd limited and omniscient is simply omniscient with a tight focus: e.g. Harry Potter. Many people mistake it as 3rd limited with the occasional omniscient observations, but in fact the whole thing was written in omniscient with tight focus on Harry Potter.

Dark huntress
05-02-2011, 09:34 AM
What if I dropped first and did third limited or third omnipresent ?

maestrowork
05-02-2011, 09:40 AM
What if I dropped first and did third limited or third omnipresent ?

Personally I think it's more natural to have 3rd limited (multiple view points if you have multiple main characters) or simply 3rd omniscient through and through, maybe with a tight focus (e.g. Harry Potter).

blacbird
05-02-2011, 09:41 AM
I am writing in first person, however there are several places in my story where I need to describe an outside scene that none of the characters can see since they are all indoors.

The very first question you should be asking yourself, and demanding a serious answer for, is: WHY?

For starters, if you're writing in first-person, why are you even concerned that any character outside your POVnarrator (none of the characters can see since they are all indoors) be able to see what's going on?

Dark huntress
05-02-2011, 09:49 AM
The reader needs to "see" what is happening because the MC can't describe it, it is the night of her birth. Others that are present are inside as well and they are not part of the story. No one is outside to describe the scene and the important even that takes place during the birthing .

The reader needs to see this, it is am emotional description of the entire scene both inside and outside. The mc can't tell it. She is being born. Can't use 1st person.

The reader will see the event but it is only later in the story that they will understand it's meaning.

After that brief description, the story will start in third person. I had to drop 1st person.

maestrowork
05-02-2011, 10:13 AM
Can you tell it from the POV of MC's mother or father or whoever witnessed the birth? You said no one witnessed it. But obviously at least one person would be present: the mother.

It also sounds like backstory here. Is it absolutely necessary?

If so, then you either will have to write it omniscient, or if you prefer 3rd limited, you'd have to somehow tell it from a POV that is present during the birth. Or, if you're doing this as a prologue, then you can use omniscient... but that would further sets the prologue apart from the rest of your story.

It's your choice.

blacbird
05-02-2011, 10:24 AM
Others that are present are inside as well and they are not part of the story.

If "they are not part of the story", why do you even mention them here? They are not part of the story.

No one is outside to describe the scene and the important even that takes place during the birthing.

So how does anyone ever know what has happened?

The reader needs to see this, it is am emotional description of the entire scene both inside and outside.

The bolded phrase is the first thing you need to seriously address. Again, the operative question is: WHY?

The reader will see the event but it is only later in the story that they will understand it's meaning.

Honestly, this sounds horribly confusing and clumsy to me, reacting as a reader. If any event takes place that is important to the story, SOMEBODY has to witness it, unless you choose to retreat into a very distancing omniscient narrative viewpoint. Which sounds to me inappropriate. Why not have some character having actually witnessed whatever event it is, and relate it at some appropriate time later to your heroine, and thereby to the reader?

Don't make the mistake of assuming your reader needs to know everything you, the writer, knows, at every moment. Reading is not writing.

backslashbaby
05-02-2011, 10:37 AM
Since it's at the very beginning, you really may have more options. But I hesitate to say that, because agents and publishers appear to be less interested in artsy stuff that I like from a new writer. From an artistic standpoint, you could pull it off, theoretically (imho).


Ray, John Connolly's The Unquiet did some unusual things with POV. I liked it. Omni came out of the woodwork, along with paranormal stuff, in a book that had been straight Limited 3rd and 1st (different characters). The Limited 3rd went omni, so it could have been that it was really 1st + omni all along. I thought it worked really well, but tastes differ on that, for sure. And clearly, he is allowed to play around a bit. I have no idea if an agent would have seen what I saw had it been his first work.

maestrowork
05-02-2011, 10:42 AM
Honestly, this sounds horribly confusing and clumsy to me, reacting as a reader. If any event takes place that is important to the story, SOMEBODY has to witness it, unless you choose to retreat into a very distancing omniscient narrative viewpoint. Which sounds to me inappropriate. Why not have some character having actually witnessed whatever event it is, and relate it at some appropriate time later to your heroine, and thereby to the reader?

I do agree with this. If it's important and emotional (to who?), then somebody must have witnessed or experienced it. Then why not tell it from that perspective, so we get to experience the emotions and importance? Why use a distant, omniscient narrator for it, simply because all the other "main characters" are not in this scene?

POV has less to do with event reporting and more to do with emotions: whose POV it is, and how close you want the readers to be? Fiction is about emotions, or else we'd be reporting news (even news reporting has a lot to do with emotions). So if you choose an omniscient view point, which is by nature distant, to reveal information that is supposed to be emotional, then it seems counter-intuitive. Why not choose a POV that is close to the event? If not the MC (since she was being born), then how about the mother?

Cyia
05-02-2011, 10:56 AM
The way you describe the scene, it sounds like pure backstory. In that case, I would suggest writing it as a 3rd person prologue. Then write the rest of the story. Most likely, you'll find when you're finished, that you can cut that prologue all together.

Either that, or you can have someone have told the MC about her birth. If there was something remarkable about it, someone would have mentioned it at some point in her life. Even if she wasn't aware as she was being born; she'd still know what happened.

Linda Adams
05-02-2011, 02:32 PM
Can you give me a few examples where a mix of first person and omniscient works well in a single work? I'm curious.

Read a mystery like that. Can't think of the author offhand, but I ran into one that mixed THREE different viewpoints. It was about a forensics anthropogist who was suffering from a medical problem. The story opened in omni, went to first and switched between that and third. The omni wasn't a good use -- it showed the body being found by an unknown person, then told us the same thing in the next twenty pages in first person.

whimsical rabbit
05-02-2011, 02:44 PM
I agree with everything that Ray said, more or less. I don't see switching between first and omniscient working, although this is just my opinion.

Alternatively, I too thought of Cyia's suggestion:

(...)you can have someone have told the MC about her birth. If there was something remarkable about it, someone would have mentioned it at some point in her life. Even if she wasn't aware as she was being born; she'd still know what happened.

Many a time we see characters reporting events as narrated by others. Think of "Wuthering Heights" for instance (not my favourite, but the easiest example that comes to mind). That way you also enhance characterisation for the person that narrated the story to your protagonist.

jaksen
05-02-2011, 02:58 PM
This boggles my mind, a bit.

If it's an 'outside event' that nobody witnesses, than why is it important to any of the characters? And if nobody witnesses it, then how can they ever learn of it?

Or, you don't want them to ever learn of it? But then why must the reader learn of it? (Sorry for repeating 'learn of it.')

You want the reader to be aware of it, but none of the characters? Am I reading this correctly?

If I am, then indeed, I do not get it. However, if you manage to pull this off, and get it published ...

Me wants to read it.

:D

jaksen
05-02-2011, 03:01 PM
Many a time we see characters reporting events as narrated by others. Think of "Wuthering Heights" for instance (not my favourite, but the easiest example that comes to mind). That way you also enhance characterisation for the person that narrated the story to your protagonist.


Omg, Rabbit, I love Wuthering Heights. I've read it maybe...six hundred thousand times. Okay, Catherine is an idiot at times and makes a dozen poor choices and the plot hinges on Heathcliff overhearing and misunderstanding a bit of conversation, and blah blah blah. It has enormous weaknesses throughout.

But I love the emotion. I think it's the pure, raw emotion of it that has carried it over the eons. (Okay, last 164 years.)

Carry on...

Sagana
05-02-2011, 03:03 PM
I do agree with this. If it's important and emotional (to who?), then somebody must have witnessed or experienced it. Then why not tell it from that perspective, so we get to experience the emotions and importance? Why use a distant, omniscient narrator for it, simply because all the other "main characters" are not in this scene?

POV has less to do with event reporting and more to do with emotions: whose POV it is, and how close you want the readers to be? Fiction is about emotions, or else we'd be reporting news (even news reporting has a lot to do with emotions). So if you choose an omniscient view point, which is by nature distant, to reveal information that is supposed to be emotional, then it seems counter-intuitive. Why not choose a POV that is close to the event? If not the MC (since she was being born), then how about the mother?

That's the path Orson Scott Card chose for the first Alvin Maker book (Seventh Son). The birth and all the dangerous and special events surrounding it are described from the point of view of the torch - the little girl that can see the future and the life force. Then when the Miller family moves on, the pov switches.

I think this has to be carefully done, however. I was a lot more interested in Peggy's (the torch) story than Alvin's for awhile, and disappointed when it switched. I got over it eventually, but thought it worth mentioning. If you haven't read it, that book might be worth reading for one way of handling the important birth.

Linda Adams
05-02-2011, 03:13 PM
What if I dropped first and did third limited or third omnipresent ?

Okay, I'm all for using omni if it's the right choice for your story, and the right choice for you as a writer. However, a lot of people often don't really understand exactly what omni is and struggle with the concept of the single narrator. Plus, they often decide to use it because they have a problem with the story they can't figure out how to solve -- like the problem you're having here. That's not a good reason to make such a drastic change to what can be a difficult viewpoint.

Having switched from third to first and then to omni, I can tell you that's going to be a lot of work. It's not a matter of just changing I to he -- it's a major revision. Plus, you have to learn how to write in omniscient effectively, which means research because there's not much out there to explain how to do it. That's a LOT of work, all to add one scene.

If you're on a first draft, I'd suggest not changing anything. Just finish the draft and see if you find a better way to bring it into the story. Perhaps as a main element that influences other parts of the story -- she gets two versions, one from a relative who wants to hurt her, another from someone with a different agenda. Just take some time to think about it first.

RobJ
05-02-2011, 03:59 PM
..the scene is visual and needs to be described. Retelling it later just wouldn't work for the story.

This brief scene will be the first paragraph in the first chapter. After this the MC will take over...much older of course. Maybe use it as a prologue ?
Yes, because it takes place before the rest of the story and involves people who don't feature in the story afterwards (other than the MC, who is being born at this time), it could be done as a prologue. You're not restricted to using omni for the prologue, you could write it from the POV of any of the characters present, but it wouldn't be a major problem if the prologue was in omni and the rest of the novel in first person.

You've suggested that this would be an emotional description. You've also suggested that it would be only a paragraph. It's not easy to get engage the reader emotionally within a single paragraph at the start of a story.

whimsical rabbit
05-02-2011, 03:59 PM
Omg, Rabbit, I love Wuthering Heights. I've read it maybe...six hundred thousand times. Okay, Catherine is an idiot at times and makes a dozen poor choices and the plot hinges on Heathcliff overhearing and misunderstanding a bit of conversation, and blah blah blah. It has enormous weaknesses throughout.

But I love the emotion. I think it's the pure, raw emotion of it that has carried it over the eons. (Okay, last 164 years.)

Carry on...

Well, it's not that I hated it. It's simply not my favourite, for all the reasons you stated above. It was an easier read than, let's say, "Moby Dick". So far I haven't come across a classic I thought of as 'pretty bad', but at the same time very few have made my ever-favourite-reads list (like Hugo's 'Les Miserables').

End of derail. :D

megan_d
05-02-2011, 05:13 PM
In my opinion you should never let convenience dictate your pov.

Jamesaritchie
05-02-2011, 07:37 PM
I disagree. Any and all combinations of POVs can and have been used with great success by talented writers making artistic choices that worked.

I've read bazillions of first person novels because it's my favorite POV, and while I've seen first and third mixed, I've never, ever seen first and omniscient mixed, and this would have to be omniscient.

It's even a horrible idea to mix first and third, if it's solely for the purpose of getting in a few scenes where the characters aren't there, but you just can't add a few scenes of omniscient to a first person novel because you don't know how to get information across to the reader in first person.

This is not an artistic choice that's going to work, it's a serious flaw in what might be an otherwise good novel.

If a scene must be described visually in a first person novel, telling works just as well. But if it must be shown, then you need to find a way to have the character see it. But you simply don't mix in a few scenes of omniscient.

And retelling the whole thing in omniscient will probably turn the novel into junk.

Sarah Madara
05-02-2011, 10:09 PM
The reader needs to "see" what is happening because the MC can't describe it, it is the night of her birth. Others that are present are inside as well and they are not part of the story. No one is outside to describe the scene and the important even that takes place during the birthing

(Woo-hoo! I have Internet! Sorry, back to topic...)

Okay, I have a better idea now. I agree with those who've recommended third person close for a scene like this, so you avoid introducing an omniscient narrator who then disappears for the rest of the book. In third close, the narrator is more or less invisible. I think that's what you want.


This is not an artistic choice that's going to work, it's a serious flaw in what might be an otherwise good novel.

I stand by the fact that mixed omni and first can be done, has been done, and isn't always a disaster. Another example: Nick Cave's And the Ass Saw the Angel (not well known, but well reviewed). While it might not be right for this novel, I don't like to see blanket statements about what can and can't be done. I don't know how the OP writes, what her style is, what genre she's in, what effect she's going for, etc.

We can offer observations, like: 1st and omni is rare. 1st and omni might be a tougher sell. Many people misuse omni, so be sure it's a conscious choice that you understand. Many people try to give too much information, so check and see if that's a trap you've fallen into. Remember that mixing POVs is jarring for some readers. Remember that omni has a distinct narrative voice. Etc, etc...

None of this adds up to a general rule that switching to omni is a bad idea, can't work, or indicates the writer lacks discipline.

Dark huntress
05-02-2011, 10:23 PM
Thank you all for some great responses from different perspectives. I have read them all several times.

Someone mentioned not to be 'artsy' and I don't think this is what I am doing in describing the scene. But I am giving this some thought.

The mother can't help. She dies.

It's a setting I am trying to do now it seems, from the responses, that if I do it at all, I have to use third-person omniscient and switch to third person limited.

There was also mention that a reader might find this clumsy but I think I can pull it off. I think it's similar to a movie.

The camera pans outside showing viewers that a fierce storm in gathering in the east, the winds suddenly pick up. As the camera turns towards the small cabin nested between the tall tress, a small metal disc is seen fluttering towards the cabin. It lands on the roof. The camera closes in on the cabin window and peers inside. Two people are seen laying spoon fashion in bed. Sleeping soundly....blah blah..

The metal disc is important but the two characters never see it nor does anyone else. Yet the disc causes them to behave irrationally but only when they happen to be home. Now this is no where near my story but is used only as a example of what I am trying to do. The reader needs to see this. They may not be sure that the disc is responsible but there is a possibility that it is...now the reader is wondering what the disc is, is it important., is it causing this behavior and if so, why...all will be revealed later in the movie....

Perhaps not the greatest example but it's early here and that's all I can come up with...now back to reading the responses to my questions one more time before I make a final decision .

maestrowork
05-02-2011, 10:24 PM
Read a mystery like that. Can't think of the author offhand, but I ran into one that mixed THREE different viewpoints. It was about a forensics anthropogist who was suffering from a medical problem. The story opened in omni, went to first and switched between that and third. The omni wasn't a good use -- it showed the body being found by an unknown person, then told us the same thing in the next twenty pages in first person.

That tells me the author used it for convenience -- sort of a movie crane shot to show unknown person finding a body. Surely anything can be done.... the question is, can it be done well? I'd say in this case, it's as if the author wrote a prologue in omniscient (or camera mode -- there is such a thing called 3rd limited camera/objective), the the story proper is in 1st and 3rd limited.

In this case, I'd guess the opening is actually written in camera POV (you will have to verify if the narration actually dips into the character's mind... if not, it's most certainly in camera/objective POV).

3rd objective/camera is also called the "fly on the wall" POV. It's a special kind of omniscient where the narrator doesn't go inside the character's mind, but has the ability to describe everything that happens as if it was a fly on the wall watching everything.

maestrowork
05-02-2011, 10:27 PM
That's the path Orson Scott Card chose for the first Alvin Maker book (Seventh Son). The birth and all the dangerous and special events surrounding it are described from the point of view of the torch - the little girl that can see the future and the life force. Then when the Miller family moves on, the pov switches.

I think this has to be carefully done, however. I was a lot more interested in Peggy's (the torch) story than Alvin's for awhile, and disappointed when it switched. I got over it eventually, but thought it worth mentioning. If you haven't read it, that book might be worth reading for one way of handling the important birth.

Exactly. It can be done but must be done well. Even then, it's easy for the readers to falsely identify the POV character as the main character, and then they're surprised to find the POV was only there to reveal information the main characters wouldn't possibly know. That's what I call "convenience" storytelling.

timewaster
05-02-2011, 10:30 PM
(Woo-hoo! I have Internet! Sorry, back to topic...)

Okay, I have a better idea now. I agree with those who've recommended third person close for a scene like this, so you avoid introducing an omniscient narrator who then disappears for the rest of the book. In third close, the narrator is more or less invisible. I think that's what you want.



I stand by the fact that mixed omni and first can be done, has been done, and isn't always a disaster. Another example: Nick Cave's And the Ass Saw the Angel (not well known, but well reviewed). While it might not be right for this novel, I don't like to see blanket statements about what can and can't be done. I don't know how the OP writes, what her style is, what genre she's in, what effect she's going for, etc.

We can offer observations, like: 1st and omni is rare. 1st and omni might be a tougher sell. Many people misuse omni, so be sure it's a conscious choice that you understand. Many people try to give too much information, so check and see if that's a trap you've fallen into. Remember that mixing POVs is jarring for some readers. Remember that omni has a distinct narrative voice. Etc, etc...

None of this adds up to a general rule that switching to omni is a bad idea, can't work, or indicates the writer lacks discipline.

I had an omni novel out a few years ago call 'The Story of Stone' that had some sections which were first person present. It sold to a mainstream publisher though it failed to make my fortune...

maestrowork
05-02-2011, 10:32 PM
The mother can't help. She dies.

It's a setting I am trying to do now it seems, from the responses, that if I do it at all, I have to use third-person omniscient and switch to third person limited.

There was also mention that a reader might find this clumsy but I think I can pull it off. I think it's similar to a movie.

The camera pans outside showing viewers that a fierce storm in gathering in the east, the winds suddenly pick up. As the camera turns towards the small cabin nested between the tall tress, a small metal disc is seen fluttering towards the cabin. It lands on the roof. The camera closes in on the cabin window and peers inside. Two people are seen laying spoon fashion in bed. Sleeping soundly....blah blah..

The metal disc is important but the two characters never see it nor does anyone else. Yet the disc causes them to behave irrationally but only when they happen to be home. Now this is no where near my story but is used only as a example of what I am trying to do. The reader needs to see this. They may not be sure that the disc is responsible but there is a possibility that it is...now the reader is wondering what the disc is, is it important., is it causing this behavior and if so, why...all will be revealed later in the movie....

Perhaps not the greatest example but it's early here and that's all I can come up with...now back to reading the responses to my questions one more time before I make a final decision .

Looks like you want to do the movie shot/camera thing here, and then the rest of the novel in 3rd limited.

You have a choice:

1. Write the whole thing as omniscient, while focusing on particular characters at any moment (e.g. Harry Potter: it's omniscient but the focus is on Harry most of the time)

2. Write your "prologue" or opening in camera/objective view point. No dipping into the thoughts and feelings of characters. Just report what happens as a fly on the wall. That way, you separate that section out as special. It's just like a movie scene with the camera panning and zooming around the characters.

IMHO, once you do "omniscient" then you are obligated to write the whole thing in omniscient. Otherwise, it's damn confusing: who is telling the story?

Dark huntress
05-02-2011, 10:45 PM
Exactly. That was my problem. It's an interesting dilemma. One I have not faced before.

Dark huntress
05-02-2011, 10:54 PM
Someone just told me there is another POV that is rarely used. The Cinematic one. I have not heard of this one so need to find out if it can be used.

maestrowork
05-02-2011, 10:58 PM
Someone just told me there is another POV that is rarely used. The Cinematic one. I have not heard of this one so need to find out if it can be used.

Here... I'll get you started:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrative_mode#Third-person.2C_objective

Dark huntress
05-03-2011, 01:08 AM
Thank you.

Dark huntress
05-03-2011, 01:18 AM
Cinematic POV, interesting...

The difference between 3d person and cinematic is that with 3d person you create the scene through the head and perceptions of the character:

With cinematic, it's a description from the outside, as if a movie camera were set up to film the proceedings. You don't dip into the thoughts of the characters.

Source:http://www.right-writing.com/understand.html

Maybe mixing cinematic with third person limited.....might be worth trying. Then again, why re-invent the wheel....

maestrowork
05-03-2011, 01:33 AM
Maybe mixing cinematic with third person limited.....might be worth trying. Then again, why re-invent the wheel....

You can't mix them in the same scene/paragraph, etc. Every time you switch POV, you need to have a scene break.

Sorry, pal, you can't have your cake and eat it, too. POV is a discipline, something that a writer must learn and control.

blacbird
05-03-2011, 01:36 AM
I really think you're trying to make this more complicated than it needs to be.

Linda Adams
05-03-2011, 01:38 AM
In this case, I'd guess the opening is actually written in camera POV (you will have to verify if the narration actually dips into the character's mind... if not, it's most certainly in camera/objective POV).

It was definitely in camera. The author was trying to hide the identity of the person discovering the body. Never told us who had found it, beyond "the man."

blacbird
05-03-2011, 01:40 AM
"The Lottery", the famous story by Shirley Jackson, is narrated from a "camera" POV, or something very like it. As I recall, she never relates anyone's internal thoughts or emotions.

Dark huntress
05-03-2011, 01:47 AM
It was definitely in camera. The author was trying to hide the identity of the person discovering the body. Never told us who had found it, beyond "the man."

I agree. It can be done. Just because everything has always been done one way doesn't mean you can't change things up a bit. Writing is not necessarily a disciple but a means of telling the same old stories different ways. That's what makes it exciting.

Sarah Madara
05-03-2011, 01:58 AM
Cinematic POV, interesting...

The difference between 3d person and cinematic is that with 3d person you create the scene through the head and perceptions of the character:

With cinematic, it's a description from the outside, as if a movie camera were set up to film the proceedings. You don't dip into the thoughts of the characters.

Source:http://www.right-writing.com/understand.html

Maybe mixing cinematic with third person limited.....might be worth trying. Then again, why re-invent the wheel....

There was a thread a while back about "contemporary omniscient." I think that's what you are describing. You want the ability to describe everything - both camera views and thoughts - without an imposing narrative voice, is that right?

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=198424&page=2

Why don't you try writing it however you want, and then see what POV issues emerge? All these categories of POV are there to help you, the writer, avoid confusing your readers. I would worry about the categories later. If you know the effect you want but you can't figure out what the POV is called, don't worry about it. Write it. Then look for places you might be throwing off a reader, or let someone else read it and tell you it was confusing. (Preferably someone who does NOT spend a lot of time arguing the finer points of POV. You know, someone who will just read it like a reader.)

Carol2000
05-04-2011, 01:10 AM
Excellent thread!

Helped me a lot! Thanks guys!

Povs were difficult for me too...but not now :))

Lady Ice
05-04-2011, 01:40 AM
The reason why it's hard to work omni and first person narrative is that in the latter narrative, it's about one person's experience. The facts aren't important- it's about how this character perceives the events around them. Omni puts the emphasis on the events around the characters- it's about the larger scale.

Pete Morin
05-04-2011, 03:10 AM
Can you give me a few examples where a mix of first person and omniscient works well in a single work? I'm curious.

Here's a great one:

The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith, by Peter Carey - there is one spot where the MC, a deformed child, refers to himself as "I," "he" and "it," all in the same sentence. Then again, his narrative begins when he is still in the womb.

But it is indeed an unusual novel.

Also, if memory serves me, The Sound and the Fury involves three distinct first person narratives and one third omni - but they are broken up into sections (although they all relate to the same events).

QueenViv
05-04-2011, 06:42 AM
I am writing in first person, however there are several places in my story where I need to describe an outside scene that none of the characters can see since they are all indoors. When doing this, what POV should be used?

The way I see it, you can do to things:
1.you could break the POV, but it has do be done carefully. The rules have to be set from the beginning so the reader won't be confused.
On The Dead Zone, Stephen King breaks away from his third person close POV a couple of times to follow characters that will have an impact on the main plot later on. I read the book when I was a teenager and I loved that. Every few chapters he would change the point of view (for one chapter at a time) and follow the other characters. James Patterson also does it in a couple of this books.

2. write in third person omniscient. If you can find a way to keep your reader connected to the characters (I think you could follow a couple of them more closely.) this is a clean and efficient way to work.

TheMurf
05-04-2011, 12:22 PM
Huntress. I would go for a prologue that goes through the birth in third person focussing on the details you need to convey.

The main part of the book can then be first with no problems

Just my 5c

bonitakale
05-04-2011, 04:10 PM
I go with the prologue people. Even if it's very short. Maybe especially if it's very short. Half a page headed "January 14, 1989," shouldn't discourage any reader.