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How to effortlessly change POV?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Reilith, Mar 11, 2015.

  1. Reilith

    Reilith Sage

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    Writing in multiple POV's is what I seem to have a serious problem with. I've noticed in different books that I've read that some writers tend to stick to the MC's POV until it's not absolutely necessary for them to show us another perspective, while others tend to have a few POV's from the start. Which one do you think is better? Also, if writing in multiple POV's, should one stick to one POV per chapter or simply change the POV when the need arises, possibly changing it more times during one scene? If anyone has answers I humbly beg of you to share your wisdom.
     
  2. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    When I write multiple POVs in stories, I just go with what's needed. If that means sticking with one character for a whole chapter, fine. If it means switching POV three times in twenty pages, okay. All that really matters is keeping it clear whose POV you're in and why it has to be that one for that scene. It's usually best to go with the person whose physical or emotional investment in the event is greatest.
     
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  3. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    You touch on one interesting part of it:

    A good rule of thumb is to decide what set of POVs you need early (or else pants your way to an overall decision of which viewpoints to keep and rewrite it all to fit), so you can establish that near the start of the story. Most stories work best if their first few chapters introduce all of their POVs--and especially give the sense of how it's those views' combination (or a single view's focus) that makes up the real story. Plenty of stories have introduced new viewpoints later on, and sometimes it's been worth it, but in general it's better to make that clear when the reader's still settling in.
     
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  4. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    IN one novel I used all one POV except for chapter one, where I used three PsOV I never used again. That was troublesome because while I'd like to stick with just the one, that character will never know the events that led up to the opening of her view in chapter two. Tough, but it works okay.

    I have used alternating POV between two characters and for the most part, the first ten chapters were all one MC. I don't think I like that and it feels odd to switch POV that late in the game. I'll probably assess and rewrite that book.

    My current (and favorite) POV decision was to write every chapter as a day and show as many PsOV as I need to in a given day, separated by a break (*) I think this structure allowed me to show one character having a conversation with his boss, while another later that afternoon had a fight with a friend, and lastly that evening another character stumbled upon a secret. Now saying that, this particular book is not connected from the beginning. I have two factions working at odds and so I couldn't show all from either side. So I had to alternate. TO select a POV, the best rule of thumb is to show the scene through the eyes of whomever has the most stake in the event. If you want to show Jill's friend dying, don't pick Matt as the POV (who just met the guy). Show Jill, who is mourning her friend as he's slipping away. As close as you can get to the action.

    If you want to alternate characters, it's fine to come up with a sort of "chapter one is Jill, chapter two is Matt" structure, but make sure you aren't showing Matt doing the dishes or Jill having tea with a neighbor, for the sake of your structure. Above all, the POV is the story. It must progress the story, give valuable insight into the character and situation, and most importantly, be entertaining.
     
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  5. Reilith

    Reilith Sage

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    Thank you all for replying. I am still letting it sink in but I think that maybe a few POV's are the way to go for me. Now I just need to see who the POV's are going to be except the two main characters. It will probably come to me when the need arises, since I have a bigger and colorful cast of characters, but they are not all yet set, so I don't know who will actually get into the spotlight the most.
     
  6. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

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    There is a very good blog I go to, to gain an understanding of things like this. It's Emma Darwin's The Itch of Writing. She has written this post on moving POVs.
     
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  7. Reilith

    Reilith Sage

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    Thank you Butterfly, this was a wonderfully educational read. I will definitely have to work on finesse of transferring from character to character but I think that I can actually do it, since it will help immensely with portraying the story.
     
  8. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Hi Reilith, my suggestion is to plan ahead so that you get a feel for how many (and which) povs are imperative in moving the story forward. I prefer to have one solid MC as the main perspective, then I'll add in one or two other povs depending on what feels intuitively right for me. If I ever get stuck or start to doubt the process, I go back to writing from the main pov. I also prefer one perspective per chapter.

    I believe this is something that becomes more organic and easier to do as you develop your craft. The point is that it always has to drive the story forward, show character goals and development, and not be too confusing. Best of luck.
     
  9. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    In my last short story, I tried to tell everything from a single POV. But there was another character who I made a POV character so the reader could see what the MC didn't see.

    This might be something like what Chesterama's getting at. The focus is on the MC, even when it's not her POV. One scene had "The POV Guy" spying the MC from afar, and another had him reading a note the MC left for him. Whenever they were in the same scene, it was the MC's POV since it's her story.
     
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  10. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    And don't forget, if you try out a scene and POV that doesn't work, you don't have to get rid of it. Think of what filmmakers do with their "deleted scenes" and outtakes: your website and other places are great ways to still use anything you tried that doesn't make the final cut.
     
    Ireth likes this.
  11. SD Stevens

    SD Stevens Scribe

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    One of my worse faults is head jumping. I can do it half way through a paragraph and that is soooo annoying when reading. A few tips I'v picked up is at least don't do it in the same paragraph!! Like what others have said, who has the most to gain or loose or even who makes the plot unfolding more interesting. I often stick an extra blank line in or even a few wiggly bits like the end of a section but not end of a chapter?

    I love to know what all the characters are thinking and doing so find writing and reading first person a task sometimes not worth taking. A book has to be very good to keep my reading, though I have read a few that are first person but chapters are used to change point of view.

    The link butterfly added is a good one. I'v saved that to my favourites.
     
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