Point of View questions

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Brian Turner, May 8, 2006.

  1.  
    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    I know I asked this at Derby, but I'd like to ask it again for reference here. :)

    Is there a particular preferred POV use in either fantasy or science-fiction?

    Not so much with regards to first-person vs third-person, as much as the different third-person perspectives.

    Maybe it's my imagination, but when I've looked at more recent third-person works, they seem to focus on third-person limited - possibly because it offers a lot more for character development.

    However, I've been experimenting with how third-person omniscient allows you to set up character tensions via conflicting thoughts which can help drive plot.

    The first question is - is there any publisher preference for a specific third-person use in sf and fantasy.

    The second question is that I remember in Derby you (John) mentioned that US editors were getting very nervous - so would these mean that there may be concerns about the type of POV use - ie, character driven 3rd person limited, as opposed to plot-driven 3rd person omniscient?

    Or is it simply the case of focusing on whichever POV style works best with the story, and making sure that it's used properly?
  2.  
    John Jarrold

    John Jarrold New Member

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    Answer one: no.

    Answer two: I think Justina Robson, who has very recent exposure to US editorial angst, was saying this - and I know that US editors sometimes want UK writers to re-edit their book for the US market with much tighter POV.

    Answer three: As far as I am concerned , and every UK editor I know, yes, it's whatever style that works best. This is true throughout UK publishing, there is no special case for SF and Fantasy, nor should there be.
  3.  
    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    Thanks for the reply. :)
  4.  
    Robert M. Blevins

    Robert M. Blevins Adventure Books

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    No switching POV within the same section of a novel.
    Double space to a new section, or if appropriate, start a new chapter.:)
  5.  
    John Jarrold

    John Jarrold New Member

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  6.  
    dustinzgirl

    dustinzgirl Mod of Awesome

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    In relation to this, if I have two things occuring simultaneously, and I am switching back and forth...

    Is it better to have them switch in shorts, like four or five paragraphs, or long, like half a chapter?

    The scene here is that upstairs Criostol and Brihain are fighting demons, and downstairs, Lilith and her group enters the house, finding it full of demons. So, upstairs is fighting to stay alive, downstairs is fighting to go upstairs, and they have no idea the other is there. This scenes is about 2000 words all together, so I could make both longer--to a chapter each---or shorter.

    I'm sorry if I don't make much sense, Im trying to hit the scope of the scene.
  7.  
    John Jarrold

    John Jarrold New Member

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    You need each section long enough to make sense, rather than just a few lines. As you write, it's going to be a feeling that the rhytym works, rather than something you can measure with a ruler.
  8.  
    ThomasTye

    ThomasTye New Member

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    A formal apology...

    My situation is unique; however that does not excuse my behavior from the other night when I replied FIFTEEN times in a row. I was excessive, COMPLETELY out of line, and...very rude. I must admit that I went over the rules and regulations skimming as fast as possible in order to try and speed up the publishing process. All of you may laugh now, please, because I am beginning to realize that no matter what kind of content I have there is NO speedy process to what I am trying to undergo; I am young, no matter what my driver`s license may say. For the people that have written to me and scolded me, I am grateful because I value honesty above all else.

    I understand that I am on probation now on this forum. I once went to a Buddhist monk and asked him, `if there is love in everything as you say, then how do you find love in tragedy?` Well, after a long time I have come to find that there is a positive in everything. Being on probation will just make me work harder (in the smarter sense) to build a good reputation, which is what I need, what we all want. That to me will not be a problem...in the end I will do my best to win your hearts because I have nothing but time, patience and faith as I live in the jungle of Sri Lanka.

    Until next time when we meet, I will close my eyes and pray for more patience since I blew what I had the other night.
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Tye
  9.  
    dustinzgirl

    dustinzgirl Mod of Awesome

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    And from my POV, the above could have been said in an IM to I, Brian. But I think it is nice that you took the time to write an apology. I think that was nice of you. Maybe in a DIFFERENT thread and a DIFFERENT section of this forum, like the LOUNGE, you can tell me why your situation is so different?

    I just said the same word four times, and its four am here. Interesting.

    Anyways, back to the point of view thing, I have decided that John is right--surprise, surprise, and i need to focus less on the counting of the rhythm, and more on the conception of the rhythm.

    I can't help it. Im a statistics research analyst, and I used to work in a huge corporation in sales. So, I auto count everything. Numbers are in my brain, whether I like it or not.

    But thanks for the advice!

    Oh, and personally, I like the omniscent POV when I am doing an action scene, like fighting or killing or maiming Oh My! On the other hand, there is something to be said about third person limited, because you can develop a specific point about a character. Oh, well. I get confused with the whole third, first and second person thing anyways.

    /me doddles off for sleep.

    PS: And this is totally off line and probably rude, but:

    They have internet in the JUNGLES of Sri Lanka?

    Seriously?
  10.  
    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    I've been really thinking about POV issues a lot recently - think I posted somewhere else that I'm finding myself much more attracted as a reader to third-person limited POV use. It really helps so much with the character association, and moving to a third-person omniscient novel after somehow feels less satisfying.

    When you think of the tird-person liomited epics that line the book shelves, it's hard not to see this as a general preference amongst readers.

    2c.
  11.  
    StevenSavile

    StevenSavile New Member

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    The 'right' answers have all been given, but you would be surprised how many successful novels violate PoV rules. The most obvious one being the Da Vinci Code which is rife with PoV switching and Meanwhile back at the ranch moments you expect from cinema... certainly the readers out there are becoming lazier in terms of the act of actual reading. Most of my friends are avid cinemaphiles and hardly ever crack open the spine of a book these days.

    It is easy to dismiss the Brown effect but I have been noticing it more and more creeping in to other writers. I adore Jonathan Carroll for instance, but in his last novel, Glass Soup, is rife with pov switches mid paragraph. One one scene it switches mid sentence to a taxi driver who has not appeared in the book and subsequently never reappears.

    I am part of a writers group, Codex, which is made up essentially of scientists who choose to analyse what makes fiction tick in the hope of replicating it in their work. It's interesting but often counterproductive I think to look to analyse what people are buying and seek to adopt it into your fiction. After all, what people are buying/accepting today won't see the streets for 24 months...

    For all that, John is on the money.

    Focus, clarity. Keeping to a single PoV helps build an intimacy between the reader and the characters, making the book seem so much more successful.
  12.  
    SJAB

    SJAB The storyteller

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    Steven; do you really believe it is possible to analyse fiction in this manner? I know there seem to be tends and waves of certain types of stories, but there always seem to be those stories that come out of nowhere, which are quite unlike anything else. Then you get a flurry of stories in a similar vein for awhile.

    Which brings me to this; I have been wanting to ask, you, John and others in the business what you think? Something new or merely a matter of re-labeling?

    http://www.deepgenre.com/wordpress/constanceash/misc/view-2-deep-genre-genre#comments
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2006
  13.  
    StevenSavile

    StevenSavile New Member

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    Sue - no, I don't believe it is. I believe you can cut to the core of a story to see what makes THAT story work, but I don't for a minute believe you can simply replicate that mechanism in your own story without being derivative and there less than you could be. It's the curse of academia. The belief seems to forget the notion that stories, great stories, have a sense of soul that touches you, moves you.

    That said, I love listening to these guys TALK about it :)
  14.  
    StevenSavile

    StevenSavile New Member

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    As to Deep Genre - let's all be honest here for a bit shall we?

    Writers have a habit of taking themselves too seriously. This is of course a different thing to taking the work too seriously. From reading that entire thread I have to side with Steve Stirling. There seems to be a built in need thanks to the visibility of the internet to be doing more than simply writing entertaining stories. Genre writers are helping turn genre back into a dirty word by always looking for ways to lift themselves out of it.

    There is an element of insult to the reader here that comes in tandom with pandering to the ego of the writer. There's a reason certain books are successful - and it is the most simplistic of all reasons - the readers enjoy it. We don't have to all be trying to recreate Gormengast, ladelling on atmosphere and 'deep' psychology. The most successful books of the modern age have all been crowd pleasers. There is nothing shameful in writing a book that pleases your readers and for god's sake you don't need to justify the fact that you write SF or F by saying: 'But my SF is Deep SF.'
  15.  
    flynx

    flynx Un-teleported

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    One of the drawbacks (or maybe it's an advantage?) to third person is the necessity of the narrator's voice. Someone who takes no part in the action and as such is actually superfluous to the story but is in fact the only person with whom you are communicating (however one way that may be).

    Maybe I'm mixing up narrator and author, if there's any difference, but I've read elsewhere that a narrator should be as unobtrusive as possible. Conversely, one of my favourite authors makes himself very obtrusive, using footnotes, etc.

    Flynx
  16.  
    SJAB

    SJAB The storyteller

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    Sounds a bit like some of my friends who are involved in re-enactment groups. They can talk for hours about the right way to sew a button hole in a 15th century garment. But when you boil it down its an escape to what they believe was a far more interesting time. (and playing with swords). You can't live that time again, the same way you can't re-create a great story, you just create as you said, poorer copies, that lack the one thing that made the original special.

    Isn't that why often people try to look for deeper meaning in books?

    But often there isn't any. The story is just a good story. The writer a good story teller. To be honest I can't understand why anyone in the business would want to be more.It's what I would gladly settle for. To give people a few hours of enjoyment by using your imagination. We do it all as children and just enjoy it for what it is. As we grow up we start to put restrictions on our enjoyment and labels too. We can't just have fun, it has to mean something as well. Who are we fooling, ourselves or others in an effort to impress them
  17.  
    StevenSavile

    StevenSavile New Member

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    Well, to be honest, when I first started out I wanted to shake the literary foundations and show the world just how gosh-darned clever I was... I quickly disabused myself of that notion and decided I wanted a career, not a few nice reviews. Now I put story ahead of style and clarity ahead of opaque clever-arsedness. I think a lot of writers go through a phase of wanting to be special, not just good at what they do.
  18.  
    dustinzgirl

    dustinzgirl Mod of Awesome

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    One very quick and very OT....Da Vinci Code was the hardest to follow book I have ever read. It was worse than The Stand, and since I never finished The Stand, that says quite a bit. I have no idea how that book got to where it is. I think he made a pact with the Devil, but thats just me.


    Sorry for the above.

    Third person limited does seem to be the favored POV. I think this is for a lot of reasons. Nobody wants to read about what "I" did for 100,000 words, and nobody wants to read about what "You" are for just as long. It is boring, we lose scope--unless it is a biography, but I have not read one of those since 8th grade.
    Omni gives way too much away, I and You are too limited.
    Third Limited gives just enough leeway to add what you must, and hide what you should.

    PS: You don't have to be special or good, apperently the Da Vinci Code guy wan't, and he is a billionaire. How sad is that?
  19.  
    SJAB

    SJAB The storyteller

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    Steven; There is nothing wrong with wanting to change the world at some point in your life. We all do. But somewhere along the line we change, find what really suits us and what we really want to do. Seems you have found what you want.

    I came to writing late in life. always wanted to, but never had the courage, nor the confidence in myself to try. I had to re-learn a lot of my English skills, as well as learning others.

    POV for one. When I started trying to write "head hopping", constantly changing POV, was something I did automatically. I never thought others would find the story hard to follow. I understood it, why shouldn't they.

    Is the increasing number of books told with "head hopping" the result of laziness on the part of the writer, or a belief that they are skilled enough to make it work? There also seems to be a trend to "shorter" sections from one POV before changing to another, even when using limited third. Very much in the style of the TV show "Lost" Showing the same scene from a different POV with the background filled in for that character. Is this a symptom of the shortening attention spans of your average reader, or merely a fashion?

    As for Dan Brown's book, it struck a nerve with the general public, something in that story attracted people. Yes there was a lot of hype, but I don't think that alone could have been responsible for the sales.The construction of the story might be shaky, the claims and research, "shudder", but people honestly liked it. Friends I know, who rarely read, read this book.
  20.  
    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    Heh, that sounds so familiar. :)

    Point is when people turn round and point out that your work isn't as near clever as you think it is. Then it's the case of either condemn them as heathens and continue regardless, or consider that may be there could be some truth in criticism. :)

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