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Shifting perspective halfway through?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Letharg, May 28, 2015.

  1. Letharg

    Letharg Troubadour

    I am in the planning stages of a novel, which will follow two youths as they apply for a job after they finish school. The youths are friends and are hired by the same company as factory workers on an old factory. As they begin working they get into trouble with the regular staff, old people who have worked there forever and soon strange things (read supernatural) start happening.

    The reader will follow these two friends over the first 1/3-1/2 of the book up until the point where they encounter something that makes them disappear during a night shift. The reader will see something happening to them but not know exactly what.

    This is where I would shift perspective entirely to a young detective at a local police station. The last 1/2 -2/3 of the book will consist of his investigation of the factory and his eventual discovery at what exactly is going on inside the walls at night and possibly rescue of the boys.

    Now to the real question. Would you be jarred by the sudden shift in perspective? Would I need to begin introducing the detective during the first arc or would you be comfortable of having the first mention of him after the friends disappear? Maybe they could contact him in some way before they disappear to report the strange things they have seen and he dismisses them.

    The shift in perspective would also force me to deal with the characters aversion to the supernatural twice. First the youths will deny and try to ignore the unnatural events and ignore them, blaming it on superstition and then the detective will have to go through the same journey until actually accepting that the supernatural exists. Would you find that jarring to go through two such struggles of belief?

    I am still in the early planning stages of this story so any input will be valued.
  2. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    When I've seen books that do similar things, the author usually employs a mechanism to signal the shift, like Act 1 and Act 2 complete with a big title page (though "act" isn't the word I'm thinking of. Book 1 and Book 2? Part 1 and Part 2?). Anyway, you get the picture.

    Like I implied, I've seen similar done a bunch of times and didn't find it jarring. I do, however, think that the mechanism is necessary in order for it not to be jarring.

    Hope that helped!

    Letharg likes this.
  3. Russ

    Russ Istar

    It has the risk to be jarring or off putting.

    What I might suggest is that you at least have the detective show up for a couple of appearances in the first part of the book so he is not a complete stranger when you do the POV shift.
    TheCatholicCrow and Letharg like this.
  4. Vandor

    Vandor Dreamer

    You might want to introduce the second POV character to some degree, just the audience can keep themselves immersed. Imagine: one second you're dealing with a certain character(s) and feel, then turn the page. Now you have to adjust to a whole new character you don't really know or have a feel for. So even a brief glimpse of the second POV character (not an actual POV chapter per se, just an acknowledgement on the main characters' part that he exists) will give some context and immediately the reader knows who, what, when, and why this character is involved; no fumbling through the dark for a few pages just to identify where the story stands (though I'm sure you'd still be able to define all that in a few moments, the readers may like being able to put the pieces together themselves). It could be as easy as seeing him on the street, having him on the news investigating something else, or even an acquaintance.

    I know I'm planning on shifting POV for my story, though much later and with a very familiar and established character. Think along the lines of ancient mythology. The story concerns the whole of the events, not just any one character or group. Characters fall, die, or pass on the torch, but the story doesn't necessarily end.
    Letharg likes this.
  5. Letharg

    Letharg Troubadour

    Considering your feedback I think I will try to introduce the character in some way before the events transpire. Not as a POV though cause I would like for that change to surprise the reader but the detective will in some way have contact with and meet the youths. Now back to planning!

    Thanks for your time and effort!
  6. Laurence

    Laurence Inkling

    Mario Puzo does it right. Read every book of his.

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