Author Topic: Sticky pov question  (Read 1915 times)

Offline Doina

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Sticky pov question
« on: February 24, 2006, 07:43:31 PM »
 From all my reading about how to write fiction, I gathered that choosing the right pov is the most important choice a writer faces before even starts writing. I have no problem with that. Fine. Yet, I read novels where the authors used two, even more voices and pov's. For instance, C.C. Medina in his/her ( husband/wife) A Little Love, used 4 voices (4 Latina women friends, living in Miami, in search of love--really nice book, entertaining, funny, even challenging) Two women tell their stories in 1st person; two are written 3rd.

Bred Meltzer in his legal thriller The Millionaires (bestseller) did the same: one narrator is the leading character (1st, present tense)  Later, here comes the detective, 3rd person, preterit (separate chapters)

I did the same thing in my novel: she (1st) - then he (3rd) separate chapters (but I used preterit) I thought that it's important to show what happens with the guy, when she's not there. You might argue that I should change the whole story to 3rd. I tried. It didn't sound the same.
Well, I'm not Bred Metzler! :(

What is your opinion on this topic, from your reading/writing experience?
Thank you,
« Last Edit: February 24, 2006, 07:45:17 PM by Doina »

Offline Nick

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Re: Sticky pov question
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2006, 01:13:02 PM »
Point of view is a very interesting topic. Other things being equal, it's easiest to write a novel from a single viewpoint, either first or third person. Lots of successful novels are written this way.

Thriller writers, in particular, often like to write novels with multiple viewpoints. This has the great advantage that you can take a character up to a really exciting point in the story, then switch to the viewpoint of another character, leaving the reader on tenterhooks. Using this method you can really ratchet up the tension. There is, though, a slight risk that too many changes of viewpoint may confuse the reader and lose their interest and attention. You also jeopardise the all-important reader identification with your key character.

It's quite unusual to combine first and third person viewpoints, though I've certainly seen it done. David Lodge does it in some of his books, e.g. Paradise News.

I guess anything is OK as long as it works! But the more layers of complexity you add, the more difficult it is to pull off successfully. I'd say stick to a single viewpoint unless you have a very good reason for doing otherwise.

Nick  :)
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Offline Gltagaman

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Re: Sticky pov question
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2006, 02:35:20 PM »
Hi All

I wrote, and am rewriting, my novel in First Person Shotgun. As Nick pointed out, it is a technique pioneered by thriller writers. I read about it in an an book by American thriller writerb book editrd by Sue Grafton of Kinsey Millhone fame.

I find that the positive side is that I can create a filmic movement in the action. The negative side, as much harped on by my wife who has read my draft novel, is the constant change of characters describing the action. It also requires a good memory, or a script to keep track of the choreography of an action scene to ensure that the correct person is narrating.

When my editing gets more complete: and perhaps there is enough space for the piece, I will put up one of my scenes for review.

Have Thinkpad will write

Offline Doina

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Re: Sticky pov question
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2006, 08:48:41 PM »
Thank you Nick and Geoff -- [deep sigh]

I need to sit, my feet in icy-cold water, more ice on top of my head, and THINK at what I'm doing with my characters and their voices.

There're various schools of thoughts on this.

I quote from Elizabeth Lyon's A Writer's Guide to Fiction:

'Even though third person is the most common viewpoint in fiction what are its disadvantages? Because it is a compromise to some extent, this viewpoint can contribute to a lack of affect, a washed-out emotion, almost as if the writer is sitting on the fence, unwilling to commit in a way that is unavoidable in first person. Most stories require an increase in emotional and dramatic intensity, not a lessening of it, and the choice of third person can sacrifice intensity over first person.'

She writes, in another paragraph:

'Changing viewpoints smoothly takes great skill. When a writer shifts from a first-person narrator to a third-person narrator, or from one third-person ch. to another withing one paragraph, or even from section to section, the shift often JARS the reader.  Once your writing succeeds in seducing the reader and getting him to suspend disbelief, you don't want to break the spell. When you jar your reader, you make the reader aware of you, the writer. You push him out of the story and into an experience of your (clumsy) transition.'

It looks there's no right way! ???

But aren't rules made to be broken  ;)