Aug. 19th, 2013 09:59 am
ilthit: (writing)
[personal profile] ilthit posting in [community profile] writers
On the whole, how distracting do you find POV switches?

I accept and approve of the rule that says POV should not change within the same scene, let alone from paragraph to paragraph, but I rather like splitting a longer story into several POVs, where POV switch is marked by a paragraph break or divided chapter by chapter. It lets you tell more of the story.

But, as readers, do you find this distracting? Do you think it would be better policy to stick to the lead's POV?

Obviously multiple POVs can be done right, but I have no pretensions of being Virginia Woolf. I'm currently writing light tropey superhero comedy.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-19 02:19 pm (UTC)
silverr: abstract art of pink and purple swirls on a black background (bo7)
From: [personal profile] silverr
I've thought about this all morning -- it's a good question!

I certainly notice first-person shifts more than third, and for shifts in first person I think chapter or section breaks work better: as a reader, I "settle in" much more to a first-person narrator. For third person, as long as the breaks are clear - i.e., use the narrating character's name or some other identifier near the beginning of the paragraph before the flurry of pronouns to let us know whose shoulder we're peering over.

Whether it's best to stick to one POV (whether the piece is comedic or serious) really will depend on the audience's complicity, the narrator's reliability, and the other characters involved. I think staying in the lead's POV works well if the other characters are well-established ( or if their actions, reactions, and dialogue will show the narrrator/audience enough to keep the story going.). Which POV is best might also depend on the type of trope you're playing with: "fish out of water' stories are usually funnier from the fish's perspective, whereas "mutual misunderstandings" probably work better with alternating POV.

For me, POV shifts are like cuts in visual media: if I'm caught up in the storytelling I barely notice them (unless I turn off the sound and focus exclusively on the camerawork).
Edited Date: 2013-08-19 02:25 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-19 02:53 pm (UTC)
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
From: [personal profile] jazzfish
I don't find it distracting at all, provided 1) the breaks are clear, 2) each POV section is long enough for me to settle in to that POV (usually a few pages, minimum), and 3) the person whose POV it is is identified pretty early on.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-20 12:43 pm (UTC)
perfectworry: she was still young not yet highly strung which you need to be when you get older (she grows wild in my heart)
From: [personal profile] perfectworry
I like it; I'm (re)reading a book (The Blue Girl) that changes not only (first person) point of view, but also timeline (moving back and forth between "then" and "now") with each chapter. (The headings say things like: "Imogene: Then" and "Maxine: Now.") I think it keeps things interesting and lets the (back)story build slowly and keeps the reader curious.

The other book I've read recently with multiple point-of-view characters, was The Lollipop Shoes, which is not so clearly marked, and very confusing at first. (There's a trick to it in the design of the book, but I don't want to give it away if you're going to read it.) Even the confusion about who was "speaking" added to the reading experience because of the plot.

… all of which is to say, I think it can be done, and done well, and you don't have to be Virginia Woolfe to do it.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-21 06:21 am (UTC)
perfectworry: plant your hope with good seeds don't cover yourself with thistle and weeds (you have tamed no one)
From: [personal profile] perfectworry
The Blue Girl, at least, is a genre novel (young adult urban fantasy), and although Charles de Lint is one of the better urban fantasy writers out there, it is still genre. I think it could work, if that's what you want to do with your story.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-20 04:07 pm (UTC)
stripped: (Default)
From: [personal profile] stripped
The truly technical answer is: Why?

Do you need multiple POVs? What will it bring to the story? What might it take away? What would change if you stuck to one POV versus being able to switch?

The implementation is as you said: make sure it's not head hopping, that it happens at scene or chapter breaks, and that it doesn't seem to bounce around. But there are definitely both advantages and disadvantages to switching.

One thing a friend of mine (who is a pro) taught me is that if you set up a pattern -- Char A, Char B, Char A, etc... -- make sure you end as you being. If you start out with one, let them end the story too, so it comes full circle.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-21 04:29 am (UTC)
laceytd12: (Default)
From: [personal profile] laceytd12
I've read a few books with alternating POV and I've never been bothered by them since the POV's name started every chapter. However, I have read one book where, if I remember correctly, the POV switches with every 1-2 chapters without a break or the name starting the chapter, but it was very easy to tell the difference between the two POV's because the writing styles were so drastically different.

In my opinion, if you are able to convey two different personalities easily by making their writing styles so different there shouldn't be a problem reader wise. But, if that's not your forte, the distinct breaks in character might be the way to go.


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