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Shamrock

Points of View in a Book

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I am reading a thriller by a well known female writer. The book is one of the most recent in her detective series. 

 

She seems to do something I have not come across in a novel before. While most writers will choose a POV approach for all their characters and use that throughout their book - i.e 1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person. This author writes their principal character from the 1st person narrative and other characters from 2nd person narrative. 

 

It threw me a bit at first, and I don't understand why they are doing this. It seems odd to me. The only rationale that seems to fit is that it enables her to move location and character using the 2nd person. If she wrote the entire book from her m/c 1st POV that would stop her from doing so.  I have not read her other books, particularly the early ones, but I suspect that she may have written them in the 1st person and moved on to this hybrid to have greater freedom in writing her stories. Not sure a newbie writer would get away with it or past the slush pile, but as they are established and sell shed loads of books, I suppose they can do it.:)

 

Has anyone else come across writers doing this?

 

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Apparently the thriller The Silence of the Lambs does something similar, but I haven't read it so am not speaking from experience. My guess is that the shift into 2nd person puts some distance between the readers and characters, and the authors are using this to convey detail they want the reader to know that involves either a disagreeable character or a character the author doesn't want the reader to get attached to (and that is one sentence that is far too long). 1st person instantly creates a bond between reader and character. When showing information about our from the villain's POV, some distance might be desired.

 

I think that when it comes to the should-I-should-I-not question about this topic, I think that if it works and the writer has the skills to pull it off well, whether they are established or not won't matter. Changing from 1st to 2nd or 3rd person is difficult, so I think that how well known the writer is doesn't affect whether it will pass the slush pile or not. It's just that established writers have more experience in writing, and so pull it off well. 

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I have never read a book in any genre written in 2nd person. Can’t really picture how that would work. 

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I wrote a short story that way. Having written it, I can't tell what it's like from the viewpoint of the reader. I hoped it was effective at getting both points of view across for the same circumstances.

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OK - apologies, I got my POVs mixed up.

 

The writer wrote the m/c in the 1st person and the rest in the 3rd person narrative (not 2nd as I said earlier). Sorry for the confusion..

 

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4 hours ago, Shamrock said:

OK - apologies, I got my POVs mixed up.

 

The writer wrote the m/c in the 1st person and the rest in the 3rd person narrative (not 2nd as I said earlier). Sorry for the confusion..

 

 

Oh, that makes much more sense!

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19 hours ago, Shamrock said:

Has anyone else come across writers doing this?

I read a book like this in the last few months and, like you, I was jarred a bit at first. But, when I analysed it, I came to the same conclusion you did. As a stylistic device, it gives the writer some additional freedom in managing scenes away from the main POV character.

In the book I read, it also seemed to be that the writer was using the first person to deepen the characterization of the person telling the story. The third person bits were important to the story, but it both lessened their importance (I suspect on purpose) and gave the author a way to occasionally sketch (since the reader saw) the 1st person character from the outside. All in all, a different experience, but the writer pulled it off pretty well.

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I toyed with the idea of doing this for a story but thought it would be jarring for the reader. What is everyone's opinion. Does it just have to be done well, and then it's fine?

 

On 9/9/2020 at 6:19 AM, Zee said:

I have never read a book in any genre written in 2nd person. Can’t really picture how that would work. 

 

Growing up, I read some "choose your own adventure" books for kids that did this. But it's the only time I've seen it other than Matthew Stover's novelization of one of the Star Wars movies (Ep. III). But when he did it, it was only for some stream-of-consciousness type moments, not the entire novel. I liked it a lot, but I know another reader who thought it came off as silly/pretentious.

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I mixed first and third person in a series, not an individual book. The closest I came was having one of the characters narrate the rest of the book based on diaries and surveillance footage of the other characters. Thus when he was in the scene, it was first person. He was also an unreliable narrator (aka convicted felon).

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Nice one and God be praise

every one is born with special gift and ability, the writer just follow her gift, that is why it look difference from other novel writer, i appreciate her and i pray for more grace for her.

let us strive to be ourself, be contend with who we really her and appreciate what we have so that we can stay committed to avoid jealousy.

Permit me to introduce my New book to you : The Hard Core Truth on Bad Addiction and the 7Seven Steps to overcome it. Writen by me: E.B Samali. 

get it on amazon, or visit my website : https://ebsamali.weebly.com/my-book 

Quote

Nice one and God be praise

every one is born with special gift and ability, the writer just follow her gift, that is why it look difference from other novel writer, i appreciate her and i pray for more grace for her.

let us strive to be ourself, be contend with who we really her and appreciate what we have so that we can stay committed to avoid jealousy.

Permit me to introduce my New book to you : The Hard Core Truth on Bad Addiction and the 7Seven Steps to overcome it. Writen by me: E.B Samali. 

get it on amazon, or visit my website : https://ebsamali.weebly.com/my-book 

 

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On 9/10/2020 at 7:37 PM, PenName said:

I toyed with the idea of doing this for a story but thought it would be jarring for the reader. What is everyone's opinion. Does it just have to be done well, and then it's fine?

 

I've read a book that does this and does it well. What they do is break the POV off at the chapters and have a heading or location sort of byline that tells you that you are going back the the other chunk of the story. So, the main character is at locale #1 and then at the start of the next chapter it says "Locale #2" sort of like a "Meanwhile, back at the ranch..." sort of moment. That clearly tells you as a reader that you're reading a different part of the larger overall story.

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3 hours ago, Thomas Davidsmeier said:

"Meanwhile, back at the ranch..." sort of moment.

Aha! You're giving a clue to the movies you watched a "few" years ago.

 

Back when I was teaching, when I wanted to change subject, I would throw out that "Meanwhile, back at the ranch," and my students had absolutely no clue what I was talking about.

Edited by carolinamtne
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On 9/9/2020 at 3:03 AM, Shamrock said:

Has anyone else come across writers doing this?

Steven Brust plays with POV in his book GOOD GUYS. He gives us both 1st Person (from the Antagonist!) and two different sets of 3rd Person. It's an interesting experiment which worked for me (an admitted Brust fanboy) but not so much for others.

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I found the author's choice to write first-person sections from the perspective of the antagonist, and mix them with omniscient narration about the protagonists, an interesting one. I'm not sure exactly what it does; perhaps its function is to humanise the antagonist, so that we can see how he, too, in his distorted way, thinks he's a good guy, or at least a justified one.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35018915-good-guys

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I like to write.... well, I'm a wordy person, so really, I love to write.  But in the past, when I've written short stories, I never consciously thought about POV or theme or any other stylistic structure or concept.  I just wrote what was in my head.  It hasn't been until recently that I've have the courage to try and write for anyone but myself and so I've been researching and studying and trying to learn everything I can about the writing process. 

 

And while I was an excellent English and Grammar student back in high school many moons ago, I confess that today I get tripped up by such things as POV, theme, character building, etc.

 

I have a very short story that I wrote some time back, sort of a dream within a dream, and was wondering if there was a way I could get feedback on it with regard to POV, theme, etc?   Because to be honest, I don't really know if I'm writing in 1st, 2nd or 3rd person or some sort of mishmash of two or all three of them.

 

Thoughts?

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Using this shifting POV helps maintain the illusion that the narrator is addressing the reader. I hit on this as a way to get exposition out of the way, and to address the idea that the narrator can say, "I didn't see/hear/feel this when it was happening, but I found out later and it's important that you know it." Time will tell whether it works or not. 

 

Meanwhile I'm working on prequel short stories to introduce some of the technology I'll be using in the novel. 

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2 hours ago, RLHicks said:

get feedback on it with regard to POV, theme, etc?

Post it in the "Feedback and Critique" (or whichever way it is written).

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