Alternating between point of views

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Doaa Wael
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Alternating between point of views

Post by Doaa Wael » 01 Oct 2017, 06:31

I have always wondered what are the rules or recommendations regarding using the first or third person. is alternating between P.O.V between every chapter a bad idea? What do you advise?
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Post by BoyLazy » 01 Oct 2017, 12:52

I feel it gives a new perspective to the reading audience. There are always two sides to a coin and bringing it both to the reader is always good.
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Post by DustinPBrown » 19 Oct 2017, 06:08

I would never switch from 1st to 3rd in the same story. 1st is an extremely personal POV, and your character isn't going to know what someone else has done, so you'd be kind of breaking your own rules if you switched like that.

I have read books where it happens, but it's usually that the 1st person narrator tells someone else's story inside the story itself, you know?

With 3rd person though, you can have a lot more freedom depending on which 3rd person you use. With an omniscient narrator you can switch easily between characters because the narrator knows everything. Even with a limited 3rd person you can occasionally switch to another character without problem if you do it well (think Harry Potter or Game of Thrones).

I personally try to avoid using a totally omniscient narrator becuase it takes some of the suspense out of the writing. If the narrator knows everything, it feels to the reader like they should know everything, and so any twists or shocking info reveals feel less earned because the narrator knew the whole time, they know everything, so why did they wait until now to tell us?

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Post by DATo » 19 Oct 2017, 21:34

Here you go ...

It All Depends Upon Your Point Of View
forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php ... mp;t=36984
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Post by Orenash » 19 Oct 2017, 22:04

If you're talking about switching between narrative styles, I recommend against that. If a book starts in third person limited, it should be third person limited for the entire run. I've found that switching narrative styles is jarring, whatever the author is trying to accomplish with the narrative switch can be done in other ways. The third book of Jeff Vandermeer's Area X trilogy, Acceptance, has that problem. That book has third person limited, first person, third person omniscient, and second person. It's jarring, and Vandermeer uses it as a crutch to make the POVs seem different without
needing to give the characters different voices.

The one exception I've found that works well is starting a novel in 3rd person omniscient for the prologue or first chapter, then switching into 3rd person limited for the rest of the book. That gives you the ability establish some important facts, then transitioning into 3rd person limited for the rest of the book. Rowling does this in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and it works very well.

On the other hand, if you’re talking about having multiple POV characters, that’s a different animal. The main advantage of doing that is that it lets you examine a conflict from multiple angles, which is especially useful for complex political stories. It would be hard to understand Game of Thrones if we only saw things from the Stark’s perspective, and giving the other houses their own POV makes the conflict more interesting.

The big risk of multiple POV characters is that one character will just be better than the others. Then your readers will have to sit through boring chapters to get to the good ones. This happens in John Scalzi’s Collapsing Empire. That book has three POV characters: a scientist, a merchant, and the emperox (gender neutral form of emperor). Unfortunately, nothing the scientist and merchant do matter. They spend the entire book trying to reach the emperox and tell her something she already knows. Meanwhile, the emperox’ choices shape all of civilization.
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Post by Doaa Wael » 22 Oct 2017, 11:06

DustinPBrown wrote:I would never switch from 1st to 3rd in the same story. 1st is an extremely personal POV, and your character isn't going to know what someone else has done, so you'd be kind of breaking your own rules if you switched like that.

I have read books where it happens, but it's usually that the 1st person narrator tells someone else's story inside the story itself, you know?

With 3rd person though, you can have a lot more freedom depending on which 3rd person you use. With an omniscient narrator you can switch easily between characters because the narrator knows everything. Even with a limited 3rd person you can occasionally switch to another character without problem if you do it well (think Harry Potter or Game of Thrones).

I personally try to avoid using a totally omniscient narrator becuase it takes some of the suspense out of the writing. If the narrator knows everything, it feels to the reader like they should know everything, and so any twists or shocking info reveals feel less earned because the narrator knew the whole time, they know everything, so why did they wait until now to tell us?

That was very insightful! It really helped, thank you so much. Great point about building the suspense

-- 22 Oct 2017, 18:07 --
Orenash wrote:If you're talking about switching between narrative styles, I recommend against that. If a book starts in third person limited, it should be third person limited for the entire run. I've found that switching narrative styles is jarring, whatever the author is trying to accomplish with the narrative switch can be done in other ways. The third book of Jeff Vandermeer's Area X trilogy, Acceptance, has that problem. That book has third person limited, first person, third person omniscient, and second person. It's jarring, and Vandermeer uses it as a crutch to make the POVs seem different without
needing to give the characters different voices.

The one exception I've found that works well is starting a novel in 3rd person omniscient for the prologue or first chapter, then switching into 3rd person limited for the rest of the book. That gives you the ability establish some important facts, then transitioning into 3rd person limited for the rest of the book. Rowling does this in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and it works very well.

On the other hand, if you’re talking about having multiple POV characters, that’s a different animal. The main advantage of doing that is that it lets you examine a conflict from multiple angles, which is especially useful for complex political stories. It would be hard to understand Game of Thrones if we only saw things from the Stark’s perspective, and giving the other houses their own POV makes the conflict more interesting.

The big risk of multiple POV characters is that one character will just be better than the others. Then your readers will have to sit through boring chapters to get to the good ones. This happens in John Scalzi’s Collapsing Empire. That book has three POV characters: a scientist, a merchant, and the emperox (gender neutral form of emperor). Unfortunately, nothing the scientist and merchant do matter. They spend the entire book trying to reach the emperox and tell her something she already knows. Meanwhile, the emperox’ choices shape all of civilization.

Thank you for this extensive reply!! can you tell me more about the difference between having multiple POV vs Multiple narration?

-- 22 Oct 2017, 18:11 --
DATo wrote:Here you go ...

It All Depends Upon Your Point Of View
forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php ... mp;t=36984

Thank you for sharing this, quite brilliant

so in this case, it is safe to include 2 point of views, both in first person ofc, like alternative chapters?
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Post by LadyBlu » 25 Oct 2017, 13:48

One you decide on what type of Perspective you want to write from - first or third person- then stick with it. I've seen many authors change between POV and to be honest it's annoying, distracting, and I feel that it makes the book less professional looking.
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Post by Doaa Wael » 25 Oct 2017, 14:00

LadyBlu wrote:One you decide on what type of Perspective you want to write from - first or third person- then stick with it. I've seen many authors change between POV and to be honest it's annoying, distracting, and I feel that it makes the book less professional looking.

Thank you for sharing :)

There are 2 main characters, sometimes i want to narrate some things from the guy's perspective as he watches the girl and tries to interpret her actions, same thing goes when i am narrating from the girl's point of view. They are both complex characters and i want to build tension via the confusion that each one of them experiences
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Post by Brandi Noelle » 26 Oct 2017, 13:10

I wouldn't switch from 1st to 3rd person within the same book. However, I think changing POV chapter-by-chapter is a nice, clean way to transition. Paula Hawkins' "The Girl on the Train" did it seamlessly. She titled each chapter with the name of the character who's POV would be used, so there was never any question. Hawkins also managed to set some chapters back in time chronologically, while others were in the present. That seems like a very confusing idea, but she pulled it off beautifully.

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Post by Rebeccaej » 21 Nov 2017, 23:53

I'm actually thinking of switching between 1st and 3rd in my next book. It would be 1st person when it's from the main character's POV, and 3rd when the POV is elsewhere.
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Post by CommMayo » 26 Nov 2017, 01:09

I really enjoy books that include the point of view of multiple characters. This seems to be a must for romance novels these days.

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Post by Dolor » 26 Nov 2017, 09:08

I suggest when you plan of using first person narrative, keep it in the first person the end.

Switching of point of views can be confusing sometimes specially to amateur writers.

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Post by blackrosepress1 » 30 Nov 2017, 08:16

Alternating between multiple povs is fine in the 3rd person. I do that a lot. Just make sure the reader knows whose pov it is within the first few lines of the chapter, unless you name the chapter. If I use first person, I stick with it.

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Post by Sushan » 19 Jun 2018, 14:49

Refer Freedom Is for the Birds - Kindle edition by JM Sutherland which has the switching of point of view between animal POV and human POV. it is not exactly the thing what you asked for. but still, you can have an idea
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Post by echoesofmj » 27 Jun 2018, 22:21

Hi!

I have beta-read quite a few books and I have read a hell of a lot of books, and so this is only speaking from my own experience. Personally, I think you have to pick between first or third person. Either the book is going to be written in first person POV (then you might consider the POV switch between characters) or it's written in third person.

The pros of third person, I find, are that when you switch POV, the readers aren't as "confused". The writing mostly remains the same, the focus is solely different. There is no breaking in the flow. And the third person POV allows you to alternate between characters more easily.

With first person, the thing is, you have to adapt the writing for each character. They can't all "talk" the same, if you know what I mean, within the narration. They will all have their quirks and things they notice more or way of thinking or saying things. Personally, I find it's a little harder to do this because you want the reader to be able to tell the difference between the two narrations without them having to know because they read it, whose point of view it is. However, if you do consider it still (it can bring something to the story, most definitely! I don't condemn it at all), I would recommend switching point of view with a chapter. By that, I mean, I wouldn't recommend having an interruption within a chapter to switch point of view. I find that this really disturbs the flow of the story and can pull readers out of it.

I hope this helps a little! Good luck :)

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