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View Full Version : When to introduce another POV character?



JustJess
05-01-2008, 06:21 AM
So I'm writing 3rd person-which will eventually alternate between 3 POVs. Should I wait to introduce them until they have to interact with the MC which is about 50-60 pages in? Or should I introduced them earlier (which provides needed background info but doesn't necessarily move the plot along)? I worry that if I wait too long to introduce another POV it will be jolting for the reader.

Barber
05-01-2008, 06:31 AM
I also have a multi-Pov story. I'm just going to say I spent the first 3 chapters introducing them, and I'm quite sure many will think that's bad, but others will think it's fine.

I just read a book with about 9 POVs, and it never jolted or confused me, I never felt 'split between characters', and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I guess my advice is to do what feels right for the story. I read many books with many POVs throughout them (sometimes they even switch from 1st to 3rd), and it's never bothered me.

Come to think of it, I never even questioned POV switches until I started researching, most notably when I started poking around here. (Getting a bit long-winded now; sorry about that).

Write for readers, not writers. There are so many more readers in this world, and every writer has their own style and will see different problems.

Matera the Mad
05-01-2008, 07:35 AM
I introduce a character when that character has something to do. "Introducing" a character ahead of time sounds suspiciously like a cross between an infodump and...various other unsavory things.

ishtar'sgate
05-01-2008, 09:10 AM
I don't think it will be jolting for the reader if you wait to introduce your characters when each one merges naturally with the storyline. I'd introduce them when you think the time is right.
Linnea

dpaterso
05-01-2008, 09:56 AM
If the 3 POV characters share the same significance, I might think about kicking the novel off with 3 chapters, one for each character. Heck, if they're important enough to be POV characters, they must all be doing or involved in something interesting, right?

Just a thought. Each to their own preferences.

-Derek

kct webber
05-01-2008, 11:07 AM
Switching POV for no reason would jolt me more than if you waited 'til there was a reason. My WIP has three main characters and the first three chapters are from those three points of view. But I did that because the plot required it, not just because I simply wanted to introduce them. I wouldn't introduce a character 'til there is a reason for him/her to be there. To me, this falls under the rule of advancing the story; that is, if it doesn't, leave it out.

HeronW
05-01-2008, 01:27 PM
If you have to force the intro--it'll feel forced. Let the new POV's come in when it's their time. It's like being at work--you & your boss, then the tel rings for a phone conference and that's at 3pm -- 3/4 through the work day but it's an important client--still valid to hear from them and them calling earlier wouldn't have worked as well since they had things to do, so did you, so did your boss.

Phaeal
05-01-2008, 04:59 PM
In my current WIP, the first (and most frequent) POV character gets Chapters 1 and 2. POV character 2 gets Chapter 3, in which the character who will be POV 3 appears. POV character 3 doesn't get her first "starring" turn until Chapter 6. All of this serves the storyline, which should take precedence over formal character introductions and alternations, IMO.

RJK
05-01-2008, 05:11 PM
IMHO if you are going to be writing from a character's POV, that character should be introduced fairly early. His turn on stage as the POV character, could come at any point in the story but bringing in a stranger and giving him enough importance to have a POV would jolt me. On the other hand, If I were familiar with the character, I would think nothing of it.

Wrathman
05-01-2008, 08:17 PM
I think bringing in another POV character a little later can give the story a boost if it's handled properly, especially if that POV is presented in a different tone than the other POVs and the new character presents immediate conflict for one or both of your other MCs. You don't want to wait too long or it will seem to come from left field, but I'm ok with that character not being there as the story begins.

wrinkles
05-02-2008, 04:47 AM
O.K., this is a little off-topic, but I've just go to say it. As a reader, in addition to prologues, here is something I hate, really, really hate to encounter in a novel:

....Balthazar had punched in the first set of coordinates of the Polonian rebel base when he heard the unmistakeable ratcheting sound of a Polonian vaporizer readying to fire. He waited with resignation. From this distance the rebel couldn't miss.


Chapter Eight

"Come in, time for lunch," Uncle Nesselrode yelled to the numerous children playing on the anti-gravity platform. "Hurry before the Sorbisol gets cold." He....

But that's just me.

kct webber
05-02-2008, 08:25 AM
O.K., this is a little off-topic, but I've just go to say it. As a reader, in addition to prologues, here is something I hate, really, really hate to encounter in a novel:

....Balthazar had punched in the first set of coordinates of the Polonian rebel base when he heard the unmistakeable ratcheting sound of a Polonian vaporizer readying to fire. He waited with resignation. From this distance the rebel couldn't miss.



Chapter Eight


"Come in, time for lunch," Uncle Nesselrode yelled to the numerous children playing on the anti-gravity platform. "Hurry before the Sorbisol gets cold." He....

But that's just me.

What specifically are you talking about? Ending a chapter on a 'I'm gonna get my ass blown off' note? Starting a new POV with chapter eight? I don't get exactly what you are saying.

dpaterso
05-02-2008, 11:02 AM
I'm guessing he means repeated use of a contrived cliffhanger that segues into an "ordinary" dramatic scene because author thinks a change of pace is arty -- but it actually kills the mood and sours the reader's interest.

Or maybe not.

But I am curious as to what happens between Balthazar and the Polonian rebels.

-Derek

JustJess
05-02-2008, 04:25 PM
Thanks for all the replies! Yesterday I managed to introduce the 2nd POV character (page 30). The MC ends a chapter talking about a woman who died 15yrs ago-the next chapter opens with the 2nd POV character having a discussion with said "dead" woman. I feel the timing works well. I still have one more POV character to go but she's at least been mentioned in the current chapter so her intro should be easier.

Oh and as for Wrinkles pet peeve-I agree. A cliffhanger before a POV change just makes me rush through the story (in a bad, skimming-the-text kind of way).

wrinkles
05-02-2008, 07:27 PM
What specifically are you talking about? Ending a chapter on a 'I'm gonna get my ass blown off' note? Starting a new POV with chapter eight? I don't get exactly what you are saying.

What dpaterso said. When I'm really into a good read, I hate being jolted out the end of a tense scene and whisked away to the beginning of another in a different settng with a different set of characters.

The disruption is lessened if the author ties the two scenes together fairly quickly.

But if another scene follows from still another POV, that's it. It's throwing time.

wrinkles
05-02-2008, 07:36 PM
So I'm writing 3rd person-which will eventually alternate between 3 POVs. Should I wait to introduce them until they have to interact with the MC which is about 50-60 pages in? Or should I introduced them earlier (which provides needed background info but doesn't necessarily move the plot along)? I worry that if I wait too long to introduce another POV it will be jolting for the reader.

And a comment that actually relates to the subject of the OP: Among the many great pieces of advice I got from reading the UJ thread, one of the very best was write your first draft then figure out where your story begins.

So given that, are you sure that the first interaction with the other POV characters happens 50-60 pages in, or does your story actually begin just before that interaction?

Chasing the Horizon
05-03-2008, 08:06 AM
My POV characters introduce themselves when something happens that must be (or at least should be) told from their POV. I just let it happen naturally. But that's pretty much how I handle everything with my writing. The more I try to structure things, the more I damage the structure (if that makes sense). If I don't think and just write, the pacing, POVs, and scene structure take care of themselves (your mileage may vary).

Constantine K
05-04-2008, 07:04 AM
O.K., this is a little off-topic, but I've just go to say it. As a reader, in addition to prologues, here is something I hate, really, really hate to encounter in a novel:

....Balthazar had punched in the first set of coordinates of the Polonian rebel base when he heard the unmistakeable ratcheting sound of a Polonian vaporizer readying to fire. He waited with resignation. From this distance the rebel couldn't miss.



Chapter Eight


"Come in, time for lunch," Uncle Nesselrode yelled to the numerous children playing on the anti-gravity platform. "Hurry before the Sorbisol gets cold." He....

But that's just me.


AGREED AGREED AGREED AGREED AGREED AGREED. Some books on writing (lol, for the most part) say that's a great tension builder, because it makes the person want to keep reading.

Me? I want to skip ahead. It feels like a cheap trick, and it's one of the reasons I don't use multiple POVs. Taking the reader out of the action (whilst in the middle of it, of course) does not translate to good writing.