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Old 12-12-2012, 11:01 PM   #1
Jonathan.Bentz
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Writing a Suspense-Thriller with 2 First-Person POVs?

Hi all. I've been working on that book "Revenant of Dennison, and I've found that not only is the title going to change, but the story would profit more if the two primary agents of the story, vigilante Keith Davidson and homicide Detective David McKnight, both told their story from a first-person POV, with the third person only being with scenes where there is another person involved and its from their point of view, ie, the true antagonist of the story, since Davidson is more of an anti-hero.

The antagonist is part of a backstory for most of the series that I've come up with, which was a surprise cuz I thought I'd gotten everything down pat. Anyways, I was just wondering whether having two first-person POVs can be done or if I'm getting a bit too original there....

Of course, for all I know, this is a stupid question to which I already know the answer: "If it serves the purpose of the story better, do it." But since my logic can sometimes be skewed, thought I'd better double-check....
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Old 12-13-2012, 02:38 AM   #2
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I don't see why it wouldn't work, provided there's clear delineation between the two first-person POVs. You don't want to confuse the reader, so you'll have to be clear about the shift from one to the other.

You may find it somewhat more restrictive than you anticipate. A solitary 1st person POV allows the reader to learn/know only what the MC learns/knows. You can extrapolate what two such POVs might entail - and you'll have to keep their respective knowledge separate until your plot dictates otherwise.

It would be challenging, yet doable. I think it's well worth a try - go for it!
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Old 12-13-2012, 12:00 PM   #3
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As long as the reader knows who, when, and where the narrator is - and what that means in relation to the other one - then I don't see an issue with it. It's all a question of execution
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:39 PM   #4
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Yep, echoing what the others have said. I think you need to be sure they have very distinct voices, so at any point in the story the reader can tell who is who. Isn't Gone Girl written this way, come to think of it?
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:43 PM   #5
Jonathan.Bentz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkEsq View Post
Yep, echoing what the others have said. I think you need to be sure they have very distinct voices, so at any point in the story the reader can tell who is who. Isn't Gone Girl written this way, come to think of it?
Might be. Haven't read it, but a quick Google search would probably tell us...

I realized after trying to write the POVs (in test chapters only) that they're far too similar to be able to tell apart unless I mark the name of the person at the beginning of said chapter. Since that wouldn't be all that useful, I'm sticking with my third person stuff. I tend to switch between Limited Third Person and Omniscient Third Person, depending on the situation, but more and more use the Limited Third Person.

Next time, I'll remember the reason before I ask the question....
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkEsq View Post
Isn't Gone Girl written this way, come to think of it?
Yep!
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Old 12-14-2012, 12:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
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unless I mark the name of the person at the beginning of said chapter.
Iain Banks does exactly that in Transition. I think he has three or four first person POVs in there.
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Old 12-14-2012, 12:52 PM   #8
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Don't see why you couldn't just name the narrator at the beginning of each chapter. It's worked out pretty well for GRRM.
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:42 PM   #9
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Like the others have said -- depends on distinct voices.

But I'll also add this. Are you sure that's the problem? Sometimes writers are prone to fiddle with form to avoid nagging doubts about content. Just something to think about, and dismiss, if necessary.
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Old 12-18-2012, 04:27 AM   #10
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The more distinct you can make the voices, the better. You want the reader to sense when the POV has switched. Cadence, manner of thinking, etc., all help lend distinction.
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Old 12-18-2012, 11:01 PM   #11
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Anything can work, and anything can fail. It's all in why you think the story works better with it, and how well you execute it.

I'd also add that you have to actually write the book before you'll know whether this will work at all, and you'll have to sell the book before a series is possible.
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