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Zee

Point of View Changes

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If I want to have a point of view change after a few paragraphs, instead of at the end of a chapter, how should I indicate that so readers aren't confused?
Or is that just a major no-no?

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Third person. There are two points of view in the story, with about 70% from one character.

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You shouldn't do that, Zee.  POV changes after a few paragraphs typically will jar the reader out of your story, which is why it's consider the hallmark of an amateur writer.  Better to shift POV's with a chapter change.

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17 minutes ago, suspensewriter said:

You shouldn't do that, Zee.  POV changes after a few paragraphs typically will jar the reader out of your story, which is why it's consider the hallmark of an amateur writer.  Better to shift POV's with a chapter change.

 

OK, that's what I suspected. I've already fixed it in my draft, and it won't happen again.

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13 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

You shouldn't do that, Zee.  POV changes after a few paragraphs typically will jar the reader out of your story, which is why it's consider the hallmark of an amateur writer.  Better to shift POV's with a chapter change.


Concur. I've read many Name authors who successfully change POV at the Chapter level but I don't know of anyone who successfully changes POV at the Section level. It's too jarring.

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Re-reading, I can see how flipping back and forth after a couple of paragraphs is a bad idea, but it seems OK after a scene change/ time gap. But maybe not.

 

What happens when I don't want an entire chapter from that POV, but just a scene or two?

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12 minutes ago, Zee said:

What happens when I don't want an entire chapter from that POV, but just a scene or two?

The last time I saw somebody do this was when Steven Brust wrote MY OWN KIND OF FREEDOM: A FIREFLY NOVEL. In the first chapter Brust writes from the POV of the crew of the SERENITY with changes at the scene level. I was thrown even knowing who the various characters are but ymmv.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2788448-my-own-kind-of-freedom

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Brust later wrote GOOD GUYS which alternated between three POVs: two Third Person POVs from the points of view of two different protags, and one in the First Person from the POV of the villain. It was brilliant. He kept those POV changes at the chapter level and it worked much better for me.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35018915-good-guys

I also want to mention Roger Zelazny's ROAD MARKS which had two primary POV characters which alternated (again, at the chapter level).
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/939646.Roadmarks 

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If you're only doing a couple of paragraphs, do they have to be right there? Could they be the beginning or ending of a chapter in that character's POV? Or could there be some conversation with someone that divulges that information?

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Maybe it depends on genre?

 

I actually see this a lot, especially in romance novels. It's pretty common in romance for the POV to switch between characters in the middle of chapters, even in the middle of scenes. I'm bothered by it if it happens every few paragraphs, but if the changes are spaced out well, it doesn't bother me at all and can, in my opinion, add depth to the story.

 

That is if it's in third person. If it's in first person, I get tripped up even when the changes happen at the beginning of a chapter. First person POV changes drive me crazy!

 

 

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From all the books I've read, it seems to be fine to switch POVs when you switch scenes.  Just don't switch POVs in the middle of scenes.  That gets confusing... :D 

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I just read Finding Faith by Denise Hunter, a popular CF romance writer. In one scene, we switch from the woman's POV to the man's in the middle of the scene. The woman says something and feels guilty. Then we switch and see the man thinking she must be lying. I don't know what the experts say about it, but I see this switch in the middle of scenes a lot. I think the authors do it so the reader can see the same scene from different POVs. I'm not saying it's the best thing to do, but plenty of popular modern romance authors switch POVs in the middle of scenes, going from the woman's POV to the man's. This often happens about once a scene, but usually not more than once.

 

This is a change I've noticed recently in romance fiction. It doesn't really happen in older novels. In some ways this makes sense when you think of how we're trained by film to see things from different POVs as the scenes take place. I've actually come to expect it from romance authors and am sometimes disappointed when it doesn't.

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49 minutes ago, yowordworm said:

I just read Finding Faith by Denise Hunter, a popular CF romance writer. In one scene, we switch from the woman's POV to the man's in the middle of the scene. The woman says something and feels guilty. Then we switch and see the man thinking she must be lying. I don't know what the experts say about it, but I see this switch in the middle of scenes a lot. I think the authors do it so the reader can see the same scene from different POVs. I'm not saying it's the best thing to do, but plenty of popular modern romance authors switch POVs in the middle of scenes, going from the woman's POV to the man's. This often happens about once a scene, but usually not more than once.

None of this is written in stone. For me, the main issue is clarity. If you were doing the 'one scene from two viewpoints' thing, I think it would be ok as long as it's really clear who's POV we're in.

 

Quote

Saturday - Carl
Today Gail completely lost her mind. I was watching Auburn v. LSU when she barged into the room and started screaming. It was so loud I had to move to the TV in the basement and completely missed when Lancaster ripped off a long run to put the cats ahead. Geaux Tigers!

Saturday - Gail
Look, I love the Tigers as much as anyone but the Radiologist was coming into the clinic just to show us the gender of our fetus in an Ultrasound, and if that isn't what DVRs are FOR, I don't know what is.  I'm beginning to wonder if he even wants to be a dad.

 

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I always thought that was the point of limited omniscient third person. To be able to get into another character's head.

 

Let's say you have an active chapter, a bombing mission in a B-29. Characters are a pilot, co-pilot/navigator, tail gunner, waist gunner, and bombardier. The chapter has transitional scenes where only the pilot and co-pilot's POV matter; fighter attacks where the gunners relate to the cockpit crew for information, and the bombing run itself.

Cinematically, you'd have "cut scenes"  to remind the audience that characters with nothing particular to do are still in jeopardy.

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I think there's a difference between showing (via deep Third or immersive First Person POV) and storytelling. If you've got a good Narrator's voice, I think you can tell a story while touching one what various people are thinking without requiring section break changes. 

 

Quote

On the ground, Captain Jack Anders was a wreck, drinking while off-duty, hounded by creditors, chased by various angry women. But in the air at the wheel of his B-17, Captain Anders was calm and cool under pressure. 

It was just the opposite for Navigator Ben Simmons. On the ground Ben was a natural conversationalist and the men sought him out in the Mess Hall or if in need of another stooge to take advantage of in the never ending game of Poker. But when at the controls of the Bronzed Betty, Navigator Simmons couldn't stop sweating even when airborne and the temperatures were well below zero. 

On the day of their last run, Captain Anders was clear-headed and focused. Simmons on the other hand was a basket-case, sure he would lead them all astray and to their doom.

 

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On 12/8/2019 at 6:31 PM, Zee said:

If I want to have a point of view change after a few paragraphs, instead of at the end of a chapter, how should I indicate that so readers aren't confused?
Or is that just a major no-no?

I'm lousy with multiple-POVs, but I read a book that was a best-seller, and quite the story, using three POV characters without separating them by chapters. I recommend reading it just to find out how she pulled that off. The Help.

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Guest N R
On 12/9/2019 at 10:51 AM, Johne said:

I don't know of anyone who successfully changes POV at the Section level.

psst... left behind... just sayin'...

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3 minutes ago, Nicholas Reicher said:

psst... left behind... just sayin'...

The one example which can be used as either a pro or a con...  ;)

#unpopular_opinions_for_1000_Alex

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