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Topic: Question on POV...

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Subject: Question on POV...
Date Posted: 11/14/2008 2:56 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 123
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Good afternoon, fellow writers and swappers!

I have another opinion to ask of all of you. I am working on organizing the scenes in my novel. I am writing in limited third person, so I have a Point of View character for every scene. My question is this:

Do you think that regularity matters in POV choices? In other words, if you were reading my story, would you care if the POV character is randomly different in every scene? Or should there be a regular skipping back and forth between certain  selected characters?

 Note: I'm not talking about the first few scenes here. THAT would be confusing. For the first 40 pages or so I will keep to the main character, so the reader knows, "who's story this is," as an experienced writer once put it. After you know who the MC is, would you care if the POV's are random from scene to scene?


Grateful in advance,



Last Edited on: 11/14/08 2:57 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/14/2008 3:28 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Yes I would care, even once you know who the MC is switching around can get confusing.  You need to ask yourself, do you really NEED to switch POV or can you convey this information in another way? Is this adding to the plot?

Re-reading your post, if you are regularly switching POV, and doing so in the same pattern, that could work IF the scenes are long IE a few pages long and that there is a reason for doing so.

on a side note: I feel for you since getting all the information across for a plot line can be hard.  From one writer to another, write it how YOU want it to be, get a few unbias people to read the first several chapters, see if what you are doing confuses them. (we all have that friend which is easily confused, try to get that person to read it).


Date Posted: 11/14/2008 6:01 PM ET
Member Since: 6/6/2008
Posts: 15
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It's not unusual for writers to switch POV at various parts in a story.  The biggest key that I would suggest is MAKE IT OBVIOUS that you're switching POV.  I hate it when you get two different people's POV in one paragraph.  If you're going to switch POV make sure it's a new paragraph, or even better, include a line break of some sort so the reader knows that you're switching.   

Date Posted: 11/14/2008 11:48 PM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2007
Posts: 2,941
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It depends on how you separate scenes, I think.  If you're breaking things down into chapters it could be great.  I've read some fascinating books that switched the POV each chapter or so.  One of my favorite novels, Trainspotting, not only switches characters each chapter, but as it's written in dialect and each character speaks slightly differently, it's almost as if each chapter is written in a different language.  Sure, it makes for a more difficult read, but it also makes for a much more unique and memorable read, and combined with enjoying the plot makes it the favorite that it is.  It seems like a useful tool when telling a multifaceted story, developing several characters, or just breaking the monotony of a story that follows a single character around the entire book.

Date Posted: 11/15/2008 10:11 AM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 123
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"I hate it when you get two different people's POV in one paragraph. If you're going to switch POV make sure it's a new paragraph, or even better, include a line break of some sort so the reader knows that you're switching. "

Definitely--I know what you're talking about, Justina C. My format would be switching between scenes, not paragraphs or in the middle of a scene. It would be clearly marked.

Thank you very much, everyone, for your input! I am still open to hear opinions, so if you have one, please post!






Date Posted: 11/29/2008 2:43 AM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2008
Posts: 3,574
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I like books that change POV, but, I agree, I get annoyed if I am unsure who's POV I'm reading and surprised when I relize it was someone other than I thought - then I always go back and re-read. What works best for me is seperate chapters or subchapters, literally headed with the POV name and sometimes a date/time. I know it would get unwieldy if it were all the time, but I also think it helpful it they overlap sometimes, so I am seeing the same scene with totally different POVs. I find that a real insite in the story sometimes. But I thought you were asking it I need a regular pattern from POV to POV - MC, charter A, then B, then C, the MC, A, B, C... I would say, that can be good, but not necessarry. Esp. not necessary if I feel like i can understand how each POV is the 'best' one to tell this part of the story. Of if they need equal time? Well, not really, but be aware it can really take me by surprise each time i hear from one of the characters who isn't used as the POV much - be aware of that mild shock factor, and kind of use it, you know?
Date Posted: 12/2/2008 3:19 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2007
Posts: 145
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One of the things i've learned about POV is that you, as the writer, should be able to defend/support why that scene (or chapter or whatever) is being told from that point of view. I like to ask myself, who does this scene need to be told by?
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 8:06 AM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 123
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Everyone has been very helpful!


Latricia F., yes--I was mostly asking about the order in which the POV characters change. Thank you for helping me out!


Judy L, I absolutely agree with you.


And you all may be sure that I will always make the identity of my POV character immediately known. It seems that that is the thing that really doesn't sit well if it's done wrong, and I do agree. I was reading a book yesterday which started  with a general scenery description before actually moving to any of the characters. I felt like it was similar to a movie shot, where the camera starts far away to give you the setting, and then zeros in on one character--as apposed to seeing it from the character's viewpoint immediately. Limited POV is by far the better choice.


I appreciate the input I have received!