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Thread: POV ideas?

  1. #1
    Busy Lizzy
    Guest

    POV ideas?

    Here's a problem for you to sink your teeth in.

    Have you ever experimented with changing from writing in the first person, (using the POV of your protagonist) over to the third person (POV of a secondary character)?

    I'll give you an example:

    __________________________________________________ _________________
    I looked across the street and saw my boyfriend approaching Donna and me. He waved at us and blew me a kiss.

    Donna thought,"Wow, what a good-looking guy that is! Please God, don't let HIM be Eve's new boyfriend. I want him for myself."

    For some reason, Donna was more irritated than friendly when I introduced Jim to her. I wondered. Did she think he was awful? I SO wanted them to like each other.
    __________________________________________________ _________________

    I've experimented with italics for one person, normal type for the other, but somehow it doesn't work.

    See, I'm trying to crack the problem that I would love to write in the first person, because it reads better, but then you can't describe what's going on in other people's minds.

    Hmmm...any ideas?

    Busy Lizzy



  2. #2
    Rogue Mutt
    Guest

    Re: POV ideas?

    Use semi-omniscient first-person like I'm doing. It's a four-dimensional philosophy where I figure that since my narrator is narrating from some undefined future point, he can go find out stuff he didn't experience first-hand through research and he can always make up stuff to fill in the gaps, making him not entirely reliable either.

    In your case though you probably don't need to get in other people's heads.

  3. #3
    Jeanne Gassman
    Guest

    Re: POV ideas?

    Lizzy,

    This may sound like a stupid question, but why do you need to know what is going on every character's mind? You can show the non-POV's feelings with dialogue and action. It also increases the tension in the scene. Try taking out Donna's thoughts in this scene and SHOW her irritation during the brief introductions.

    If I had a better idea of where you were going with this scene, I might be able to come up with an example. Is Donna irritated with her friend or with Jim? Is she rude to Jim, or does she flirt with him in a caustic way? Think about how she'd act and what she would say to show us her feelings.

    If you keep the scene in one POV, you can make the reader feel more of the POV character's confusion about Donna's response. Good character development is all about reader identification the character. Sometimes the reader loves the MC; sometimes he hates the MC. But he should identify with the MC at some level. The reader can't do that with too much head-hopping.

    Make sense? Hope that helps.

    Jeanne

  4. #4
    Busy Lizzy
    Guest

    Re: POV ideas?

    Jeanne and Rogue,

    Thank you for your helpful suggestions.

    My problem is that I really love the first person. As you say, Jeanne,"Good character development is all about reader identification the character" and IMO, the first person is ideal for that.

    Eve and Donnas paths separate fairly soon. While Eve is travelling and going through an exciting self-finding process in a different country, Donna - in a sub-plot- tries to lure Jim away from her.

    I want to describe Eve's feelings and thoughts in the first person, but I obviously can't write from Eve's POV in the subplot, because Eve isn't actually present there.

    I could try Rogue's suggestion, but that would involve shoving a time span between the action and the actual time the story is told.

    See what I mean?

    But I suppose you're right in saying too much head-hopping isn't so good, Jeanne. Maybe I'm trying to do too much at once.

  5. #5
    Finnley Wren
    Guest

    Re: POV ideas?

    Am I the only one who doesn't give this stuff a second thought? I've written in the first person and I've written in the third person. That's about it. Haven't got much more clever than that.

    Maybe I've just never experimented with "omniscence" and should give it a try, or maybe it's yet to come up.

    But I always get nervous seeing folks discuss issues like this, as if there's something I should be worring about but aren't.

  6. #6
    Karen Campbell
    Guest

    Re: POV ideas?

    While this is just my humble opinion, I strongly suggest you anchor yourself in one head at a time (per chapter or per story). As Jeanne said, you'll draw the reader in more easily with single POV. One head lets both the reader and the writer settle in comfortably. As an added bonus, you will probably find that choosing effective details is easier when you're looking through a single set of eyes.

    Some highly skilled writers are successful in moving in and out of multiple heads in a single scene, but I ain't going there.

    Karen

  7. #7
    Busy Lizzy
    Guest

    Re: POV ideas?

    Finnley,

    I don't want to make you nervous. I just wanted to know, if anybody has had experience with combining both 1st and 3rd person. Have you actually done it? And does it really work for you?

    Karen,

    Moving in and out of heads works for me, if I do it in paragraphs and restrict myself to the 3rd person. But that means sacrificing the glorious possibilities of the 1st person. >sigh<

    I guess you and Jean are right. "Combining" is too complicated.

    I'll probably stick with *boring* 3rd person.

    Just from interest, do you know any writers or books where it does work? (I think John Updike might be one of them. Got to check)

    Thanks,
    Busy Lizzy

  8. #8
    Atlantic Beach
    Guest

    Re: POV ideas?

    I think 3rd person allows the writer to withhold more info than first.

    Also whatever POV you do not need, "she thought" or "I thought." Give the reader some credit for understanding that the narrator is doing the telling and thinking.

  9. #9
    Jeanne Gassman
    Guest

    Re: POV ideas?

    Lizzy,

    If you really want to switch from 3rd POV to 1st POV, do it in alternating chapters rather than in alternating paragraphs. It's less confusing and will allow you to develop the scene/characters more fully.

    Just my thoughts...

    Jeanne

  10. #10
    Busy Lizzy
    Guest

    Re: POV ideas?

    Thank you for your suggestions, Atlantic and Jeanne.

    I still don't have the ideal solution, but you've certainly helped me on my way. I'm going to do some more puzzling and experimenting.

    Maybe I'll post a sample, once I've decided.

    Busy Lizzy

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