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Thread: This might violate EVERYTHING about POV

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    This might violate EVERYTHING about POV

    I am a lurker and am currently considering undertaking a project that has me a little boggled. I know the idea of 'new concepts' will lead to a harsh reality and thus is my dilemma.

    In the project I am working on, there are two main characters, each with their own set of... well, lives basically. But they don't ever come together often within the story. This is in fact a crucial point in the story. How would I go about this? If this was a screenplay (which I am used to), it wouldn't be an issue, but writing in novel form is much different.

    The way I envision it is that both of these characters are seen in a 1st person point of view, but in the screenplay they are never together often.

    Think of the movie Serendipity. Two people across the country find each other, yadda yadda. However, when they do come together how do you suggest changing the POV since they were both 1st person experiences on their own. Each had an equal part so not one person was more omniscient than the other.

    Thanks for the help!

  2. #2
    here and there again fadeaccompli's Avatar
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    That's not actually all that unusual. You just write two different first person perspectives. If the two characters are sufficiently differentiated as people, it should always be clear whose section it is anyway.

    When they overlap in a scene, just pick whichever character is most appropriate to be the viewpoint character for that scene.

  3. #3
    _ SomethingOrOther's Avatar
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    Have you read any multiple-POV novels? You should start by doing that*. This sort of thing is super-common and it violates nothing about anything, except unless one of your characters starts picking up the sensations privy to nearby rocks, and the other character seems to know what the other's penis is thinking, or something like that.

    You can handle it any way you want: both 1st person, both 3rd, one 1st and the other 3rd; you can even introduce some 2nd person into the mix, but writing in 2nd person is illegal in some jurisdictions.

    And that's not what omniscient means. I assume you mean important.

    *Try The History of Love. It does a lot of the things you want to know about.
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    They've been very bad, Mr Flibble Mr Flibble's Avatar
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    I've done something similar (close third but other than that...) where the two protags don;t meet until just before the climax. In fact each was teh other's antag.

    I did it by each chapter, having a section from each of them. In my case, each of their actions was impinging on the other (even though they never met) so each section would lead into the next as a reaction to what the previous section had happen.

    It led to a really satisfying (to me at least!) pendulum effect, whereby with each section the stakes were upped, so it got quicker...Reviews were all very good too.

    When they DID get together, I still had one section from each per chapter (they had very different views on what was going on) and changed when the person who stood to lose the most changed - the structure essentially stayed the same.

    Yours may be very different - it depends on how interconnected the POV's lives are - but maybe that might be an idea to start with? Even if not, I don't really see a problem as long as each POV is as interesting as the other.




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    Retired Illuminatus dangerousbill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fadeaccompli View Post
    That's not actually all that unusual. You just write two different first person perspectives. If the two characters are sufficiently differentiated as people, it should always be clear whose section it is anyway.
    I tried that, and it didn't work very well. I had to contrive some way of signalling whose head I was in with each chapter, so it looked, well, contrived.

    A much more direct way would be to use the character's name as a chapter title or subtitle. I should have done that; then I wouldn't have had to wedge in material to identify the pov character.
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  6. #6
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Thanks! Appreciate the input.

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW
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    It has been done before. No problem

    If you’re used to movies, take a look at “The Fifth Element.” In this movie, the hero and the villain never directly meet or speak to each other. There is one scene where they come close, though.

    For books, check out ones with multiple points of view to get a feel for how it’s done. Even something old like the Animorphs series will do. Just the first few books though, because there’s a lot of them. They’re a quick read since they’re written for teens. They switch POV characters every book (except for a few where they switch with the chapters, like the last book).

    Another example is the ASOIAF series. It is still sitting on my shelf and has never been read (*prepares to be admonished*), but I’ve looked through it. Each chapter is from the POV of a different character. Heck, I don’t think that Dany even meets any one of the other main characters for the entire first book. She’s across the sea, you know!

    When there is an overlap of characters, just pick one person to see the events with and go with it.

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    I am in the middle of wrestling with a dual pov wip at the mo - my last one had four povs which dovetailed at the end - and continuity is the big chalkenge for me. I need a timeline to check the scenes happen in logical order and know i might need to switch around at the end. But i can be done, and often is.
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    Soldier, Storyteller Linda Adams's Avatar
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    The Poisonwood Bible is done from six first person POVs.
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  10. #10
    Grave Touched is here! Saoirse's Avatar
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    This is what I did with my debut novel, Fey Touched. I had three POV characters, all told in first person. Two of those three people did not meet until about 2/3rds of the way through.

    I used their names to denote whose head we were in. As I had multiple POVs per chapter, that I felt was a good enough signal. And their narrative was distinctive, too.

    One of the things I was praised for in the reviews was how seemlessly I told all three stories and how I wove them all together at the end. Oddly enough, this was effortless. I literally just wrote what I saw in my head. But apparently it worked, and that's what counts, right?
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  11. #11
    Huh. kkbe's Avatar
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    I did it in my novella within a novel (crazy GINGERSNAP). It follows two strangers who both have a connection to a little girl who went missing. The young woman rents the house where the child lived, the man had a hand in her disappearance.

    Each chapter is related in fpp, dated and titled with the name of whomever is relating their story. The two never meet but at the end of the novella, a story the woman writes indirectly prompts the man to confess.

    It works pretty well, I think.
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  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW Sunflowerrei's Avatar
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    The Help did this--chapters with the pov character's name at top, in first person. Then there's a banquet where the characters all come together and that was written in third person.

    Also, The Joy Luck Club did it, too. Every chapter had a different first-person narrator.
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  13. #13
    Benefactor Member Manuel Royal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by outwardjourney View Post
    The way I envision it is that both of these characters are seen in a 1st person point of view, but in the screenplay they are never together often.
    Basic question: are you working on a novel or a screenplay?

    If it's a screenplay, there's no problem. You're simply following one character or the other in a given scene.

    If it's a novel, I'd just use limited third person for each.

    Quote Originally Posted by outwardjourney View Post
    But they don't ever come together often within the story.
    Quote Originally Posted by outwardjourney
    The way I envision it is that both of these characters are seen in a 1st person point of view, but in the screenplay they are never together often.
    Does "never often" mean "never" or "not often"?

    If it means "never", not a problem.

    If it means "not often", that means "sometimes". In that case --

    If it's a screenplay, just describe the scene, give the lines, and let the director worry about camera angles.

    If it's a novel, there are several possible approaches to writing a scene with the two of them.

    If you've been using first person narration for each character, you could describe the scene from the POV of one or other -- or both, in succeeding chapters, or in memory.

    Same, really, if you've been using close third person. Or -- in that case, if you want, you could combine the two viewpoints in the scene, and do a little "head hopping". Now, normally we avoid "head hopping", but if we've already had both characters' points of view well established in earlier chapters, it might be interesting to know the thoughts of both of them during the one (or occasional) scene they're together.
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    Benefactor Member Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SomethingOrOther View Post
    ...it violates nothing about anything, except unless ... the other character seems to know what the other's penis is thinking, or something like that.
    And that is one of the most interesting takes on the concept of "head hopping" I have ever read
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    practical experience, FTW areteus's Avatar
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    It is not hard to know what a penis is thinking... vaginas on the other hand...

    As stated above it is entirely fine to have multiple POV characters and switch between them. You just have to make sure that you are clear about which PoV you are in at any time to prevent head hopping and if the characters rarely meet that should never be an issue.

    The main issue with multiple PoV being a problem is when you jump from one to the other within the same scene and even then I have seen that done successfully.

  16. #16
    Benefactor Member Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by areteus View Post
    It is not hard to know what a penis is thinking... vaginas on the other hand...


    The main issue with multiple PoV being a problem is when you jump from one to the other within the same scene and even then I have seen that done successfully.
    Snort.

    It's permissible to change povs within a scene if writing in omniscient. But omniscient is not the same as head hopping. There are different ways of handling this pov, but it's not as popular in modern genre fiction as it once was.

    At least that's what most writing gurus are saying in various writing forums, blogs and instructional sites. The fantasy novels I've mostly been reading in recent years seem to bear this out, as they tend to be written in limited third, or occasionally first (though it may be a selection effect, as I tend to prefer stories that attach me strongly to the pov characters).

    This doesn't seem to stop nearly every brand, spanking new fantasy writer from wanting to or trying to write in omniscient, though (and sometimes doing so very clumsily). Maybe it's the LoTR influence, since it's regarded as the classic fantasy work and it was written in omniscient, as many books were back then. Don't know if other genres have the same issue or not.
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