PoV Question...

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During another re-read and finer inspection of my MS, I encountered an unexpected PoV issue. Except in one case, I stick to one character's/narrator PoV per chapter. Most of the MS is written in a close-3rd of the protagonist. A few other chapters are a close-3rd of other varied characters, one character's PoV/chapter. I have one very diverse PoV chapter...but it works. So, most are close-3rd of whatever character, by chapter. Then there are a couple in question.

As I read through them, they're reading 3rd-omni in that two characters' thoughts are presented. I really don't want to do what I've done in others (and don't like it in those either) where I have my PoV character interpret and assume the other character's thoughts. So, my question is: is it okay to shift from the primarily close-3rd format in other chapters to a 3rd-omni in a couple other--back to back--chapters?

Oh, btw...Most chapters I lead off with a single paragraph of narration. What I hoped I could do was in those paragraphs mention how each character had different views on the matter...or whatever...to make it clear from the start it was 3-O.

Thanks for any advice you can share.

K2
 
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Brian G Turner

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It's possible to get away with it - certainly I think writers get more twisted up in knots about it than publishers.

However, it could be a sign of weakness in those chapters - and that be addressing it, you may be able to strengthen them. For example, if you break the chapter into sections, and have a different POV character for each section - that's done a lot.
 

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Thanks @Brian G Turner ; As to it being a weakness, that's to be seen and I'll take a look into it. My concern was (until I look further) more about is it acceptable--Novel primarily close-3rd, a couple chapters 3-Omni--as in, that kills it on that alone.

I understand what you're saying about breaking it into sections, much like scenes I suppose, but I don't even break up my chapters into sub-scenes. A chapter 'for me,' is an entire scene from start to finish. Any chapter that runs under 2,500w, I take a hard look at to determine if I'd like to have more and didn't add it. Anything hitting 3,500w+, I look at to see if it should be trimmed, or when hitting 4,000w+, could it be broken into two.

In that way...for me...it keeps each chapter crisp and flowing among other things I'm trying to accomplish. But, whether it's just my lack of skill to pull it off, or maybe just a preference, I don't care for broken up chapters in what I write.

I'll take a hard look at the strength and if that pans out, AND no one else can point to a firm publishing rule of thumb, I'll probably adjust that lead paragraph to make the 3-O shift obvious.

Thanks for your help,

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Steve Harrison

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It's absolutely OK to do whatever you like, but the only way to know is to write it the way you have in mind and see if it works.

I write from multiple POVs, sometimes a large number of them, and when I have tried writing some in close and some in Omni, it strikes me as a little jarring. My feeling - based on my own reading preferences - is that I am already asking readers to move from one POV to another, so adding in an additional switch from close to Omni and back, might trip them up and my main focus when writing is to maintain an uninterrupted flow.

Having said that, no doubt this has been done in many of the books I've read and I have not noticed, so what do I know!
 

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Thanks @Steve Harrison ; It's already written and I'm in the midst of another round of edits (not story line, but phrasing...long story). I see your point, my hesitation comes in the regard that everything is absolutely clear (to me). On objective re-reads, there is no question as to who's thoughts/dialogue I'm reading--part of that is keeping the head jumping between paragraphs, not in them. So I'm not concerned regarding clarity.

What you mention about the result feeling jarring, that is a concern. No matter how hard I try to see that, however, it still flows well (in fact very smooth and clear) to me. Regardless, I'll consider what it might take to lean it down to close-3rd and see how that reads.

My primary concern was is such a jump between chapters bluntly a no-go/deal-breaker.

Thanks for your input!

K2
 

sule

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To me it doesn't sound like that sort of thing should be very jarring and if you think it works then trust your instincts.

My advice would be to edit it to the point where you're comfortable having it critiqued, then hand it off to your beta readers--and don't mention the change in PoV. That should be the best way for you to tell if it is actually jarring, or if an objective reader would even notice/have a problem with it.
 

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Thanks @Steve Harrison ; It's already written and I'm in the midst of another round of edits (not story line, but phrasing...long story). I see your point, my hesitation comes in the regard that everything is absolutely clear (to me). On objective re-reads, there is no question as to who's thoughts/dialogue I'm reading--part of that is keeping the head jumping between paragraphs, not in them. So I'm not concerned regarding clarity.

What you mention about the result feeling jarring, that is a concern. No matter how hard I try to see that, however, it still flows well (in fact very smooth and clear) to me. Regardless, I'll consider what it might take to lean it down to close-3rd and see how that reads.

My primary concern was is such a jump between chapters bluntly a no-go/deal-breaker.

Thanks for your input!

K2
No such thing as a no-go or deal-breaker in writing. It either works or it doesn't. Or it half works. Or it doesn't work and no one notices. Or it does work, but people think it doesn't...

I've been a bit paranoid about 'jarring' issues since the editor at my publisher pulled me up on something that suddenly became obvious when he pointed it out. I asked him why I didn't see that and he said, "that's because you read what you meant and not what you wrote."
 

DLCroix

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Hi! I was thinking about that movie, The Thin Red Line, about multiple POVs. And works. Just like what you say: "I have one very diverse PoV chapter ... but it works". Although transferring something like this to literature requires taking certain precautions in attention to the obvious differences of each particular genre, but at the same time some advantages can be used.
For example, in the case of cinema, the camera focuses on a certain character reflecting on something and then another character is shown thinking in turn of something else and so on and there is no problem, the viewer believes it. And there's even a general voiceover throughout the film that serves to introduce other thoughts. And there's no problem. Everything is perfectly understood. But for one as a spectator it is possible to understand it due to the change of shot / camera. It is almost automatic.
However, applied to literature, it is recommended that at least there be a paragraph change between the thoughts of one character and those of another. Which would be equivalent to a change of camera / character. There is no need for a line break between two paragraphs, which would already be equivalent to a change of scene. Although, as I said, it is not the norm either; only recommended.

Now, regarding your question:

is it okay to shift from the primarily close-3rd format in other chapters to a 3rd-omni in a couple other--back to back--chapters?
I would say that there would be no problem as long as in the case of chapters with mixed characters it is very clear which character is doing or thinking or saying such a thing or when it is the omni narrator who intervenes.

Actually this is what worries me more than the above:

I don't even break up my chapters into sub-scenes.
Here I think they could throw you eggs and tomatoes. You see, one is supposed to write with the intention of being understood. That as a first thing, right? That is the goal of writing courses, at least. You know, subject, verb, predicate. I guess we all agree on that. Well, then, for example, if one sometimes refrains from using the tacit subject even though he is aware that it is not necessary, one does it with the same objective of making it understood and there is no doubt in the message that one wants to transmit.
Because we are also talking about communicating. I suppose because of that there are all these conventions that give rise to advice on what can and cannot be done. I personally admire all those who write in a say "experimental" way, it is a gift. But I can't help but think about who will read what I write because I'm interested in him understanding me. I'm not interested in boasting or looking sophisticated. So I prefer to drive straight down the line of the road even though they call me demure.
The first convention is that the paragraph is a central idea plus two or three supporting sentences and a closing, right? And in a chapter you can have the paragraphs you want. But I insist that if possible it would be good if you make a scene change there is actually a line break that leaves a blank space between two paragraphs.
And going further, if the scene ended but you are still within the same chapter because this is determined by the internal logical order of the story, that kind of "Hours later" or "The next day" that is invisible but can be felt, I recommend that the line break between paragraphs is double or triple or even insert a wedge that no longer leaves the slightest doubt to the reader. A kind of centered ***.
There are some who also use numbers to mark sub-scenes. For which they obviously number chapters such as Chapter I, Chapter II, etc, or some other nomenclature that avoids confusion to the reader.

A chapter 'for me,' is an entire scene from start to finish.
I fully understand what you say. The longest chapter I have ever written belongs to my fourth novel, written in 2009. It has 185 pages! 90K. 1350 paragraphs. It is practically one novel within another. But, as you say, sometimes that internal unity that one feels it suggest that if force the division of chapters it will lose cohesion and fluidity. And it is not that one is thinking of producing any effect. One feels that way because obviously one is the first reader of what one writes, and if one is out of breath after nearly 200 pages readed at a stretch one also knows that the same will happen to the reader. It is a fact.
This is basically like having a child. Well I am a woman. I know what I'm talking about. And there are babies that are born very large. What we in literature call doorstopper-sized tomes.

But, whether it's just my lack of skill to pull it off, or maybe just a preference, I don't care for broken up chapters in what I write.
Well, going back to the topic of children, a novel feels and is loved as one, but it is not. You can make him lose weight, for example. I mean, take away K. Also, I think you're underestimating yourself. Or do you think anyone would raise a thread like this? No, my friend. Because as soon as I saw this in the forum I knew that I had found something exciting, from which we can all get some things. Because don't you forget that this is also being read by guys who are just starting out, and I hope you will forgive me if sometimes it seems that I am giving the can, but I do it thinking of those people who are looking for an opinion and who are just starting to climb the mountain. I have been writing since I was ten and I am 30, and I know that I can give some help to everyone, I consider it a duty. And in the same way I know that the kind of questions you ask are not the ones a newbie would ask. Because you come across such things when you've gone up a certain stretch.
So in your case I doubt that it is due to lack of skill, but rather an aesthetic choice, I would say. But also something that you feel strongly. Just as there are writers who dispense with quotation marks in dialogues. By the way, a wonder, The Nova Express. One reads it all the time a little frowning, because there are no commas, there is a complete disregard for the rules of writing and only at the end understand why it is written that way. Because actually the narrator of that story is an alien. "Word falling, image falling". Etc.

And, ay, this is only from the first post. I have yet to see what you guys posted later. But I can already see that this talk is going to be wonderful!

In the same trench with everyone. Always! :giggle:
 
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DLCroix

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I write from multiple POVs, sometimes a large number of them, and when I have tried writing some in close and some in Omni, it strikes me as a little jarring. My feeling - based on my own reading preferences - is that I am already asking readers to move from one POV to another, so adding in an additional switch from close to Omni and back, might trip them up and my main focus when writing is to maintain an uninterrupted flow.
Precisely. The main problem with multiple POVs was that sometimes it was hard for me to make their paths cross. Even when I decided to switch to an omni narrator and kept the structure one character by chapter. Also, my readers did not question that I used a first POV in one chapter and an omni narrator in the next, or even them mixed within the same chapter, because they understood that there will always be some details of a story that a first POV will have no way of knowing.

What they criticized me was that I put one character almost like MC in each chapter.

Because, when they felt that they were beginning to be attached to one, the supposed MC, on the contrary, when another character entered somehow they felt that they had to start all over again. And the problem they were telling me is that with all these changes of an anchor character for each chapter, what happened was that the MC began to weaken. Also the other characters were just as strong in dramatic terms.

So what did i do How did I solve it?
I don't really think I solved anything. But I learned a few things. Novels with a MC in first POV are shorter precisely because you don't have to change POVs or a character for each chapter all the time. Even if three characters with their corresponding POVs share the same chapter. And they are also shorter novels because the first POV is obviously never going to handle the same information that an omni narrator sometimes so generously provides.
You also have to consider that, depending on how your story is, eventually the course of events will require that several of the characters from previous chapters have to re-enter the scene. With what the pages of your story begin to increase considerably.

And yet I have never been able to write a story with a first POV. But here I would like to raise some concerns that appeared to me at some point, and I hope that you can give some ideas, to see if we can better clarify this.

1. Is it really necessary that a story always have a single MC?

2. I have seen that several have said that they have stories whose chapters are starring different characters. My question is: how many of them qualify as potencials main?

3. The river and saga novels, is it the trend or is it just a fad?

4. Is this the twilight of the first POV?

I am convinced that more questions will occur to me in the future. But I think these work for now.

"that's because you read what you meant and not what you wrote."
Oh, that is also a big problem.
But if it happens to Stephen King, with all he knows, why shouldn't it happen to us?
It is an unconscious problem, naturally. Because it happens that one knows his story so well that one forgets that the reader does not. In addition, as the pages are added, it is very easy for one to enter into contradictions or inconsistencies between dates, events, details of characters, etc.
What can be done to fix it?
It occurs to me that having chips. In my case, I always have two files open, one from the novel I am writing and a copy of it, but to which I have previously removed all the text that does not correspond to details of those same aspects in which I could be wrong. .
And even then it is difficult when you have several novels of the same series and sometimes you have to go looking for those details in the previous ones. When that happens, you have no choice but to put on your diving suit. Where the hell is it?
 
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Steve Harrison

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Interesting points, @DLCroix.

I think I've been lucky in that I didn't plan any of my multi-POV novels and they have fallen into place relatively easily (from my POV!). My first novel had 26 POV characters and the main, supporting and minor characters slowly identified themselves over time as I selected the best character POV for each section as I got to it. I don't keep notes or files, but I do edit regularly during the writing, with at least three major edits along the way, which helps me keep track in my head.

I'm currently writing a first person novel, something I haven't done before, and often have the urge out of habit to switch POVs to see what the other characters think of the MC, but for this story to work that's not possible.

I do strongly feel that if I try to analyse what I do, my whole world of writing will collapse into confusion and indecision, so, although it sounds counter-intuitive, I avoid thinking while writing and just get on with it.
 

DLCroix

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26 POV characters ... Amazing!

I'm currently writing a first person novel, something I haven't done before, and often have the urge out of habit to switch POVs to see what the other characters think of the MC, but for this story to work that's not possible.
Maybe that's because we're too used to the omni narrator. But whenever this topic appears, I usually quote Arturo Pérez-Reverte and his Captain Alatriste saga. There is a film that summarizes it, in case you want to take a look at it. But, just like in the novels, Pérez-Reverte makes Iñigo Balboa, the MC, tell the story from a first POV, which approaches your situation. And, do you know how it manages to supply all that external information or what happens in other parts and countries that Iñigo Balboa is impossible that him can to know? Pérez-Reverte uses that first POV that I was saying. But he places time in the past. In fact, since the first book, what Iñigo is really counting are his memories. So all that information that only an omni narrator could know the first POV also knows because, obviously, he learned about it over the years. Of things he read or heard. I personally think that is a very good solution to disguise an omni narrator. The condition, yes, is that, as I said, the time of the story must be in the past, not in the present.
I hope this helps
 

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Hi @DLCroix ; thanks for the extensive response. I'm a rather slow reader when I'm trying to comprehend something in a way I can apply it. So, it will take me a bit to work through what you discuss. Sorry for the delay,

K2
 

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Please bear with me @DLCroix as I try and hit on each point;

Regarding my "I have one very diverse PoV chapter ... but it works," is not these particular chapters in question. Although, discussion on that chapter is ongoing in the critiques section under, '116 words to ridiculousness.'

Your next point regarding close-3rd vs. 3rd-omni and more to the point, which character is in play, is noted and I feel is not an issue as each viewpoint is glaringly obvious as to whom it stems from. Later, you mention a clearly defining that via paragraphs. Again, I think I've done that well in that each PoV ends with a lead in phrase to the next paragraph. The next/following paragraph(s) is/are action, with the final action paragraph ending with a lead in phrase to the following character PoV paragraph...and so on.

Sub-scene discussion I get your points about being understood and how to accomplish sub-scene inclusion, and so on...but personally I just don't like them. Whether my writing style or preference, I lean heavily toward short-ish chapters of 2,250-3,250 words, that focus on A/singular specific event, subject, or time. They connect directly (in their initial and ending paragraph) to the previous/following chapter.

JUST MY PERSONAL TASTES--so no reflection on other's writing--Multiple scenes always feels to me like the writer presented X-subject or Y-event, and instead of writing it to flow along with what is currently happening, they instead add a sub-scene (often detached), and then start a new scene after...in the end having 'a' chapter of 'many' scenes. 'To me,' that feels like either the points of each scene were not worthy enough for a whole chapter, or, the writer didn't want to take the time to integrate those points/events/recollections at an appropriate place.

So, I don't do it :LOL:

Finally, thanks for your kind words, and though I'm also just learning, they're appreciated and inspiring.

K2
 

DLCroix

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Hi! Let's look at that '116 words to ridiculousness.'

Effectively. The ideal is to have chapters that are between 2000 and 3000 words, although personally, of all the authors I studied, I try to use the scheme of G.G. Martin (although it could also be Dan Simmons, I don't remember correctly), who moves around 5000 and it is rare that a chapter has more than 10 pages. William Gibson is even half as short. Dashiell Hammett, Chandler, who are older, are between 3 and 5K.
That's what the average recipe says (I beg you please don't shoot me yet). Which makes me think about what you are saying ("ONLY MY PERSONAL TASKS, so I don't have to reflect on the writing of others."). You couldn't be more right.

I used to think exactly the same.
But as a result of that more or less instinctive study I did, I became aware of certain things that were repeated between one author and another; resources, tricks, ways of approaching a topic, what the order of the paragraphs was like, what things were most important to them.
Then I discovered Harold Bloom and came across a vein of gold. It renewed my vision of the literary world and helped me understand why I was studying other authors not only by reading them but also thinking about how they did things.
What a way to learn from that guy!

The point is that if Los Jaivas composed their songs thinking about Pink Floyd or Victor Jara in Peter Gabriel or the comic artists always have a copy of the Caste of the Metabarons at hand (and the writer of that was the always remarkable one and necessary Jodorowsky) while drawing their own comics, I concluded that it was natural that with literature, one who writes, something similar should happen to him.
In short, Harold Bloom says, and here I copy and paste:
"The great works of literature do not see the light fully formed, but emerge through a process of intense struggle in competition with those that have preceded them.", And in Anatomy of Influence explains "why this fierce competition offers the key to understanding and appreciating literature. What a poem means, why it matters and whether or not it deserves its inclusion in the literature canon are questions that can only be answered by investigating how or not that poem surpassed their rivals. "
Note that here Harold Bloom is talking directly about competition. And the canon in the background is the compendium that reflects all the results obtained based on conventions or writing rules, the good and the bad, around which an average is formed about the things that work and the not. More or less what is advised to do.

What some call "recipe".

Deep down, it's like when you were at school and they asked you draw a picture. What did you do? I bet you were looking to the side to find out what the other was drawing.
I think that actually more than competition is a human instinct. It is not about becoming a bestseller, but that you will always tend to look and compare what others are doing with what you are doing, you will try to evolve, and always upwards. For a reason we are a society, right?
So I am aware of what they call "recipe". But I concluded that sometimes you can't. Because, as you say, you realize that some authors lose fluency in chapters precisely because they handle multiple scenes and also add another one halfway.
The ideal is to think simple. But sometimes it is not possible, so in summary I think the best thing is to stay true to what you have learned. After all, what matters is that we enjoy writing, and while we have fun, so will the reader. Always.

He, he. What a way to go by the branches, huh? :giggle:
 
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