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  1. #1
    Alesia D. Hurley
    Guest

    between the 2 (characters)

    In the novel I am currently working on, the story is told in _first person_ by two different characters. Should I not have them both tell their POV's in first person? Does that sound like it could be too confusing? If that's perfectly "legal," what is a good way to show the transition between characters?
    Thanks for any and all help!
    Alesia D. Hurley



  2. #2
    Kaz
    Guest

    Re: between the 2 (characters)

    Multiple POV manuscripts written by first time authors aren't encouraged by editors. Not many experienced authors can get away with it. David Feintuch's Children of Hope is a prime example. It has received negative criticism from his fans for being a 'tedious' read. I would suggest that you use separate chapters for each POV and if that isn't feasable, separate the sections between the two with line skips and triple asterisks. Regards, Kaz

    www.carolkluz.homestead.com

  3. #3
    Bob Kellogg
    Guest

    Ditto to Kaz.

    Nothing wrong with first-person narrative by different characters, but Kaz is right. Separate them into chapters.

    I've seen this kind of thing done:

    Chapter 1: Wally
    ...Wally's text

    Chapter 2: Ophelia
    ...Ophelia's text

    Chapter 3: Jimbo
    ...Jimbo's text

    Chapter 4: Ophelia
    ...Ophelia's text

    Chapter 5: Wally
    ...Wally's text

    Chapter 4: Ophelia
    ...Ophelia's text

    Or, you can leave off the chapter numbers. It helps people keep their place, though.

    Bob K.

  4. #4
    Jamie
    Guest

    Multiple Characters

    I have read many books that were told with several first person narrations. For example, Nora Hague's Letters From An Age Of Reason was done with two main characters told in first person. What made it easy for the reader to know the difference was that it was written in letter form.

    On the flip side, I have also read other books that do this and it is not as clear. So, I say do what you feel works and have others read it without telling them that their are several narrators. Do they pick this up easily, or are they completely confused?

  5. #5
    Beverly
    Guest

    Re: Multiple Characters

    I like books where more than one character is telling the story in first person. The one I'm working on now has one character telling it first person present tense, and the second character is telling it first person past tense by writing what's happened in a journal.In scenes where they are together they'll both be in present tense and I'll one one point of view in first person, the one who is relating the meeting. I don't think it's confusing. I did get some flack from an editor though when, after having written a bunch of books in third person, I switched to first (which is my mode of choice) and I guess some of the readers got confused by all the "I's" and complained to the publisher that they couldn't understand it. I figured if they couldn't understand something as eash as that they shouldn't be reading.

  6. #6
    Jamie
    Guest

    Re: Multiple Characters

    Beverly,

    don't you think that your last statement was a bit brash? What may seem as simple and self explanatory to you may be harder for the next person. OR it may be that some of these people were not used to first person narration. OR even perhaps what is very clear in your mind doesn't translate with the same clarity to paper.

    I say never dis anyone willing to read your work, whether they like it or not.

  7. #7
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: Multiple Characters

    Jamie:

    Somewhat the same as my thought at Beverly's last statement. I've found that writers whose answer to readers who consistently say they don't understand phrasing or find a style confusing is "Well, I understood it, so it must be right," don't really understand what communications is all about and don't understand that the writer is too close to the material (making all sorts of assumptions and extrapolations in their minds that they never bother to write into the work) to be a good judge of its clarity.

  8. #8
    nic.h
    Guest

    Re: Multiple Characters

    An Oprah pick (yes, I know, but this time a good one) called House of Sand (or something like that) had alternating characters telling their story in first person. The young American 20ish woman's voice was very distinctive from the middle-eastern older man she shared the narrative with, but the author also alternated chapters. Right at the end another character (the woman's boyriend) had his POV shown in third person - another whole chapter to himself - which threw me for a second, but the shift between first to third person was clear enough and the other narrative voices strong enough that it was able to work fine. It also enabled the young woman's story to continue even after she died. (It was actually a much better book than this description suggests)

    In other words, clarity of voice and language are key to alternating POVs, and, as Gary says above, pointless if the reader doesn't get it. Make sure lots of people (who will tell you the truth) read it first as it can be tricky, but very effective when it works.

    nic.h

  9. #9
    Alesia D. Hurley
    Guest

    Re: Multiple Characters

    Thank you for all your help, but I'm not sure separating the characters into chapters will be feasabe. Is there another way to separate them where it will still be clear?
    Alesia D. Hurley

  10. #10
    Bly Oxford
    Guest

    Re: Multiple Characters

    Alesia,
    If spacing changes a scene of action, why not use it to change a POV? Just be sure to indicate in the first sentence who is thinking or speaking, i. e., Mary has just told John off in her POV. Three spaces and John thinks--
    Mary, thinks it's so simple. She don't have a clue about what it's like to run a rat race. Everyone's after a tail with someone's name on it, and in this case, the tail is mine.
    Admittedly, not brilliant writing, but no one is confused about the POV.
    Bly

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