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View Full Version : What's your take on novels shifting from 1st person to 3rd person POV's



profen4
11-13-2010, 09:38 PM
I know James Patterson does it a lot, but have you guys seen other novels (I write MG/YA but anything would help) where they really pull it off? I'm having some difficulty with the transitions. Do the shifts need to to be new chapters? Do those chapters need headings? Do the shifts in POV need to be balanced equally, or near equally?

Thanks

Faide
11-13-2010, 09:55 PM
The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud is the first thing that springs to mind. He manages to pull it off. There the shifts are new chapters, respectively named "Bartimaeus" (first person) and "Nathaniel" (third person).

Also, Talyn by Holly Lisle uses this approach, and if I recall correctly, she makes a couple of shifts within a chapter. No headings, but you understand just fine whose head we're in. The titular character, Talyn, has the lion's share of the novel, but she has also the most to tell, so that's natural, of course.

Hope this might help you :)

Smish
11-13-2010, 10:04 PM
If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period, by Gennifer Choldenko, is an MG novel that switches between first and third persons. There are two main characters, and the female character's story is told in first person, while the male character's story is told in third person. I assume the author chose to do that to clearly identify character changes, though I can't be sure.

What is your purpose in switching between first and third?

DancingMaenid
11-14-2010, 12:24 AM
If it's done well, I have nothing against it. I haven't read too many books that use that format, but with the most notable examples, I felt like it was the only way the story could have been told without changing it in a major way.

I will say that it can take me a little time to get into the flow of it, but if it's well done, I usually can.

JanDarby
11-14-2010, 01:20 AM
I've been reading the Donna Andrews "Turing Hopper" series. It's got three main characters, and the scenes rotate among them. Two are third-person limited (past tense), and the other -- the Turing Hopper character -- is first person, and, most surprising to me, is often present tense.

There are no transitions, per se, just separate scenes. Although the Turing Hopper first-person scenes are in italics to set them off from the third-person scenes. I thought they'd got irritating after a while, but I haven't found that to be true.

KTC
11-14-2010, 02:10 AM
1st...I wouldn't wipe my ass with a James Patterson novel. 2nd...my take is I'll accept ANYTHING if it's done well. 1st to 3rd doesn't bother me at all. But everything has to be done well to work.

Devil Ledbetter
11-14-2010, 03:29 AM
1st...I wouldn't wipe my ass with a James Patterson novel. I still have PTRD from the Patterson novel I read last summer. That's Post Traumatic Reading Disorder.

Adam
11-14-2010, 03:34 AM
My first pubbed book does that. :)

I like it in some books, and not in others. In the end it comes down to how well it's handled I suppose.

KTC
11-14-2010, 03:40 AM
My first pubbed book does that. :)

I like it in some books, and not in others. In the end it comes down to how well it's handled I suppose.

You handled it well. (-:

Adam
11-14-2010, 03:41 AM
Ta :)

I wasn't hinting, people, just using it as an example. Honest.

*cough*

profen4
11-14-2010, 08:38 AM
Thanks guys. I might just be not doing right. I'm getting mixed reviews from my beta's. I think I'm going to get a few of these books mentioned above, and really study how the authors do it. In the meantime I'm going to make each shift a new chapter and give titles to the chapters that shift. I'll see if that lessens the jarringness (so not a word). The only problem is that making each shift a new chapter means that some of the chapters are going to be a page or two (just a couple chapters). I know Patterson has short chapters in his MAX RIDE series, so I guess it's not too bad. Actually, to his credit, his short chapters are the reason one of my nephews reads the books that he writes (+ they are fast paced).

Thanks again guys. If you have anymore suggestions for novels that show this, please keep 'em coming. :)

heyjude
11-14-2010, 03:46 PM
Harlen Coben does it. IIRC, he doesn't break for a new chapter every time, which drives me crazy.

AlishaS
11-18-2010, 05:31 AM
I keep think about this Shwib123... Not the best example but the recent books in the House of Night series by P.C. Cast alternate from first to third. How she does it is write everything in first with no heading just chapter numbers, then when she needs to switch from first to third and into another head she starts a new chapter and clearly marks it as to who's POV we are reading from now, I even think there is a font switch to just to make sure you get that it's someone else's head we are doing.

It caught me off guard at first, but then after a few chapters it really flowed nice and I never felt like I was jarred out of the story, you just turned the page and new with the new name above you were reading a new characters POV.

Susan Littlefield
11-18-2010, 07:26 AM
I know James Patterson does it a lot, but have you guys seen other novels (I write MG/YA but anything would help) where they really pull it off? I'm having some difficulty with the transitions. Do the shifts need to to be new chapters? Do those chapters need headings? Do the shifts in POV need to be balanced equally, or near equally?

Thanks

I think James Patterson pulls it off well.

Try Jodi Picoult. She does it well too.