View Full Version : Perspectives, point of view and all that jazz

01-31-2007, 06:04 PM
I'm working on my first novel, that will be finished. Had a few false starts before this....

Anyway, to start with I'm not entirely sure what genre it falls into, though if I had to box it into a single category I would have to say 'Crime/Thriller.'

My problem is this. I'm writing two stories in one that are inter-twined with each other. As such I focus in on two main charecters, alternating scenes between them. I've been writing pretty much in 3rd person omniscient, though I've been refraining from COMMENTING directly and adding my own opinions on what the charecters have been doing. There are also a few scenes (rare) that don't include either of these two main charecters to add important context to the story/pieces of the puzzle etc.

Having read the discussion on POV etc. it would seem that this style of writing is a no-no in literary circles? Though a lot of thrillers/crime fiction that I've read seems to fit in with the pattern in which I'm writing the story.

I guess the awkward question I'm asking is if it's okay for a "novice" writer (I am due to have a non-fiction book published in a few months) to write from such perspectives or is the story going to suffer too much and be considered poor quality as a result of my POV, and should I be looking to change/ re-write it in that vein?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Kate Thornton
01-31-2007, 06:52 PM
Although I am personally a big fan of first person, lots of others aren't. My take is write what works well for the story. If your POV gets in the way or otherwise calls attention to itself, then there is a problem.

And congrats on getting to the "I'm finishing *this* one" point!

It doesn't matter if you are a novice or a pro - good writing will show. I don't pay attention to literary circles, I just like to read a well-crafted, exciting story that takes me out of myself and leaves me with a satisfied feeling at the end.

Michael Murphy
02-10-2007, 11:12 PM
In my opinion, unless you're in first person POV, you should stick to a strong 3rd person POV. The reader wantst to get inside your main character's head, not that author's. If you're not in your character's head then you, the author are telling the story, not crafting a scene. It's okay to have more than one POV character, but only one per scene. An omniscient POV could brand you as a novice and hurt your ability to attract an agent, publisher or reader.

Cathy C
02-10-2007, 11:19 PM
Omniscient in crime/thriller is fine so long as you keep the reader involved and don't rely too much on TELLING what's happening as allowing the character (and hence, the reader) to EXPERIENCE it. One of the nice things with omnisicient (if you're good at it--and I'm not so I stay away from it) is that you can tell the reader things that the character is sometimes in denial about. The "what Bob didn't remember was..." sort of thing.

You're right--there are LOTS of mystery authors who write in omniscient POV. Basicially, if you're happy with it and think it works for the book, go for it. Just be careful not to drop in and out of third limited accidentally, if it happens to suit a particular chapter. :)

Good luck!

02-11-2007, 02:43 AM
Omniscient isn't so much another POV as it is a matter of distance. First person is the cloest POV because it comes from inside a protagonist's head. Third person limited is just a bit more distant. Here the narrator is looking over teh POV character's should, but the same limitations apply to third person limited as to first person.

With omniscient, the narrator is high above the action. He can see everything that's happening, but with good omniscient, the narrator still does not head hop. Even in omniscient, YOU aren't the narrator, so you aren't allowed to comment on what other characters are doing. If YOU comment, that's author intrusion, something that was fairly common a hundred and fifty years ago, but it isn't omniscient. The narrator can comment, but there's seldom a need to do so. Author intrusion never reads well, and can draw fast rejections. Narrator comments can be used, but this should only be done when there's no other way to get the message across. There almost always is another way.

If you're alternating scenes between the two main characters, you're doing something that's perfectly acceptable in literary fiction, and in genre fiction. Nor is there anything wrong with including scenes using other POV characters. This is done in a great many bestselling novels, and is a guaranteed staple of sagas.

The trick in such a tale is to have the two stories converge somewhere before the climax. The rule of thumb is two thirds of the way through the novel, but it is just a rule of thumb, and the particular story must dictate exactly where the convergence takes place.

At any rate, I don't see where anything you're doing is unacceptable. It can be very, very tough for any writer to pull off, but when a writer makes it work, the results can be extremely good.

Michael Murphy
02-18-2007, 05:21 AM
Another consideration on first person POV, is it limits the reader to scenes involving only the POV character, so if something is happening on the other side of town/world the author can't take the reader there. It works nicely in the mystery genre if the POV character is an investigator because the reader learns facts the same time as the POV character does. Just something else to consider. Hey, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Michael Murphy
Suspense is just a click away...
www.mjmurphy.com (http://www.mjmurphy.com)