The clitorides voting is open until the end of April. Vote for your favourites [ X Dismiss ]
Home « Forum « Author Hangout

Forum: Author Hangout

Chapters with same event from different POVs

Switch Blayde

I started the novel I did not bring to Italy. It's written a lot better than the one I did. It also has short chapters, btw, but not as short as the other one. I guess that's common in thrillers.

It seems to be written in 3rd-limited with a touch of omni. What the author is doing is repeating scenes from different POVs. So in one chapter, the CIA guy survived an attack, killing the terrorists. In the next chapter, it's the same scene from the terrorist's POV.

As a reader, does that bother you? Do you like it?

Switch Blayde

The title should be "same event."
There's no way to edit the title.

Ernest Bywater

I can see an advantage if having a part of the scene repeated from another point of view, but not the whole scene. I've used partial scene duplication a couple of times myself so the scene can be used to correlate the actions of two characters or to show they see different things there, but the overlap is small and used to springboard them in other directions.

I once read part of a novel where everything was a chapter by character A then the whole thing again from character B's view point - everything was repeated - I gave it up as boring during the 4th chapter.

awnlee_jawking

@Switch Blayde

As a reader, does that bother you? Do you like it?


Frankly no.

When I read action thrillers, I want a fast-paced story. IMO going back and rehashing from a different point of view slows the story right down. It might be a useful device in literary fiction where nobody cares about the plot, or an arty-farty TV drama which is aiming for awards rather than viewers, or even to utilise the current vogue twist of unreliable narrators, but not in action thrillers.

AJ

Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee_jawking

It might be a useful device in ... an arty-farty TV drama

It was tried once with the 2002 American TV show Boomtown. That showed the same story from different characters' perspectives one after the other. It won a stack of awards for the first season but was cancelled not long into the second season. The viewers reaction was apparently 'too arty-farty for me'.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

It won a stack of awards for the first season but was cancelled not long into the second season.


TV awards are like building architectural awards - the less people like it, and the less enjoyable and less functional it is, the more awards it gets from the experts trying to prove how much better they are to the general public.

Switch Blayde

@awnlee_jawking

As a reader, does that bother you? Do you like it?

Frankly no.


Based on your comments, I assume no to the 2nd question and yes to the 1st.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
REP

@Switch Blayde

The terrorist would obviously know things that the CIA guy wouldn't based on your reference of a touch of Omni. If the details provided by the terrorist show the scene in a very different light, then no it wouldn't bother me. If it were just a rehash of the CIA guy's version with few new details and opinions, then yes it would bother me.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@REP

Chapter - Tells about CIA man hunting down and killing terrorists.
next ch - Tells about the terrorists planning to kill CIA man.
next ch - CIA man kills target and hears a noise.
next ch - terrorists know CIA man is there and goes after him.
next ch - CIA man fights off terrorists.
next ch - the terrorists try to kill CIA man but he kills them and escapes.

It actually works when I write it down that way.
What caught my eye was in a chapter the CIA man fights off the terrorists. Then in the next chapter, the terrorists attack him (they were already killed in the previous chapter).

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

What caught my eye was in a chapter the CIA man fights off the terrorists. Then in the next chapter, the terrorists attack him (they were already killed in the previous chapter).


which is why it will lead to a lot of reader confusion.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

which is why it will lead to a lot of reader confusion.


It made me stop as a reader. That's why I'm asking.

But it does work. Probably because the 2nd one doesn't go into all the detail the first chapter did and is from a different perspective.

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

But it does work. Probably because the 2nd one doesn't go into all the detail the first chapter did and is from a different perspective.


Not only have I seen it work with only a small time overlap, I've done that. The problem is the confusion when it's over a long period and it backtracks too far into the past.

What I've seen work is you also use it to change the character being followed, so you have a couple of minutes of event from inside the story matched up to align the timing as you go from character A to character B.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

It made me stop as a reader. That's why I'm asking.
But it does work. Probably because ...

I could see that working.

It seems to me it would require the author to work hard, using past-perfect tenses to establish a 'flashback', at the start of chapters retelling the same scenes from different characters' perspectives.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
AmigaClone

@Switch Blayde


What caught my eye was in a chapter the CIA man fights off the terrorists. Then in the next chapter, the terrorists attack him (they were already killed in the previous chapter).


The last two chapters in your example would create less confusion if the fight between the CIA man and the terrorists from the CIA man's POV was split into two as below.

...
next ch - CIA man fights off terrorists part I.(chapter ends in the middle of the fight)

next ch - the terrorists try to kill CIA man - the terrorist fail and the chapter ends with a "fade to black"

next ch - CIA man fights off terrorists part II. He kills the terrorists and escapes.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Based on your comments, I assume no to the 2nd question and yes to the 1st.


Thumbs up to that post!

AJ

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

What caught my eye was in a chapter the CIA man fights off the terrorists. Then in the next chapter, the terrorists attack him (they were already killed in the previous chapter


Terrorists implies a group. He kills some of them in one chapter, not necessarily all of them. Different members of the same group attack him in the next chapter.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
joyR

@Switch Blayde

As a reader, does that bother you? Do you like it?


Yes, if used to good effect.

For example, a four chapter story where the first three tell of the same event but seen through the eyes and with the perceptions and bias of each character, the final chapter being the reveal where the video tape shows that each was both right and wrong to act as they did. If done well it makes for interesting, thought provoking reading. Especially if each of the characters personal bias isn't one of the popular stereotypes and the story concentrates more in that than on the event itself.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@joyR

For example, a four chapter story where ...

Kurusawa's Rashomon was a 'a [five] chapter story where ...'

That worked to good effect, even if AJ might think it "arty-farty". :-)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

As a reader, does that bother you? Do you like it?

It depends. I've seen it used wonderfully, a few times, but I've also seen it handled terribly multiple times. They key, as always, is in your approach. If you simply repeat the exact details, only capturing the new character's reactions, it's bound to fail, as you're asking the reader to reread the exact same passage while adding little new information (they can generally guess how the bad buy will react to things). But, if you complete change the event, capturing details only the new character noticed, excluding those he simply wasn't paying attention to, it reads as an entirely new event, and adds real value to the story as you see how similar experiences can radically alter the different characters' perceptions.

But again, it's much more often handled poorly, so consider it carefully before investing too heavily in it.

The title should be "same event."
There's no way to edit the title.

You'll have to ask Lazeez. The Admins can modify the thread titles, though I wouldn't request trivial changes, just because it takes time away from their other duties (not pointing fingers, but just a general observation to anyone else reading this).

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Chapter - Tells about CIA man hunting down and killing terrorists.
next ch - Tells about the terrorists planning to kill CIA man.
next ch - CIA man kills target and hears a noise.
next ch - terrorists know CIA man is there and goes after him.
next ch - CIA man fights off terrorists.
next ch - the terrorists try to kill CIA man but he kills them and escapes.

It actually works when I write it down that way.

If that's your intent, then do that, but I'd pick up the other character immediately prior to his attack, showing them 'overhearing' the attack and responding. Thus you'd be repeating NO details from the previous chapter (since the new character really doesn't know what happened). That way, both chapters are distinct, cover entirely different details, both are fast-paced action scenes and you aren't regurgitating previous stated details.

Good luck with it.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

That worked to good effect, even if AJ might think it "arty-farty". :-)

Some of us prefer "arty-farty" stories. We may not want to read it continually, but they provide insights into different perspectives and offer newer, rarely used experimental techniques. I'd rather a creative original story over another 'more of the same' tripe we so often see repeated endlessly.

Often, those 'arty-farty' stories are all about technique, with the plot playing second fiddle to the more 'artsy' elements.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

You'll have to ask Lazeez. The Admins can modify the thread titles

It appears Lazeez has noticed SB's post and changed the thread title already.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

It seems to me it would require the author to work hard, using past-perfect tenses to establish a 'flashback', at the start of chapters retelling the same scenes from different characters' perspectives.


It's not a flashback (it's happening at the same time) so it's the same tense. It's back-to-back chapters from different POVs.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@AmigaClone


would create less confusion if the fight between the CIA man and the terrorists from the CIA man's POV was split into two as below.


It's a thriller. I don't think you'd want to stop right in the middle of a fight scene.

I'm interested because I started writing thrillers and want to learn the techniques for the genre. I already learned short chapters are good (expected?) even really short ones. I had several chapters in my WIP with multiple scenes in them and already broke them into separate chapters.

And I learned throwing in some omniscient in a 3rd-limited story is done by bestselling authors. So I'm doing that too.

So what I documented in this thread is another thriller technique I'm analyzing. In my first Lincoln Steele novel this switching didn't happen because I told the whole story from his POV (even though it wasn't 1st-person). But my current novel is told from multiple POVs, like the one I'm reading.

Uther_Pendragon

@Switch Blayde


It seems to be written in 3rd-limited with a touch of omni. What the author is doing is repeating scenes from different POVs. So in one chapter, the CIA guy survived an attack, killing the terrorists. In the next chapter, it's the same scene from the terrorist's POV.


I've done something similar.

My reason for using 3rd-omni POV in sex stories -- one of my reasons -- is that you can get 2 orgasms from the same sex act. First you give the guy's perspective; then you give the girl's.

I've also written a series of stories -- not on SOL yet if ever -- where the entire story is written from one perspective, and then I publish another version from another perspective.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

Terrorists implies a group. He kills some of them in one chapter, not necessarily all of them. Different members of the same group attack him in the next chapter.


No. It was the same fight from different perspectives. In the first, it's from the CIA's POV. In the second, it's from the leader of the terrorists. What's interesting is the leader is in the hall while his men are being killed. So in the 1st, you know a terrorist got a bullet in the throat. In the 2nd, the leader hears the gurgling from the hallway.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

That way, both chapters are distinct, cover entirely different details, both are fast-paced action scenes and you aren't regurgitating previous stated details.


That's sort of what he did. What stopped me as a reader was I had to back up the time in my mind because both chapters were happening at the same time. As Ross pointed out, flashbacks are handled with tense. But this wasn't a flashback. Two chapters were occurring at the same time.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

"arty-farty"


I thought it was "artsy-fartsy"

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

It's not a flashback (it's happening at the same time) so it's the same tense. It's back-to-back chapters from different POVs.

I don't think the writing technique for flashbacks is limited to things from the distant past. I think they apply to anything which jumps back from the current time frame of the narrative to a previous time.

I would still call something a flashback if it was a two sentence explanation in the middle of a paragraph of dialogue to explain something relevant to the current discussion which had happened to them a short time before.

My point was only that an author needs to use some past-perfect tenses - to inform readers that the events being described here happened, or started happening, at some time before the point that the narrative had just reached.

The only reason I used the term 'flashback' was because once the author has established the time frame has jumped backwards with past-perfect tenses, they may then continue on using using past-simple tenses.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

I thought it was "artsy-fartsy"

ANOTHER British vs American thing, according to the OxD.

It says British use 'arty-farty' but Americans favour 'artsy-fartsy'. I prefer the American version, but on this occasion I repeated the choice AJ had made.

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

I thought it was "artsy-fartsy"


There's quite a herd of terms of the form a****-fa*****. Arty-farty, artsy-fartsy, airy-fairy etc. I picked one at random. Use the variant of your choice or, better still, make up your own.

AJ

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

better still, make up your own.

awnlee-fawnlee ?

Mike-Kaye

I have a hard enough time keeping characters straight when a story is written in a single POV told in chronological order. I dislike continuity breaks. Although in Charles Stross's 'Rule 34' I finally got used to each chapter being told in a different first person's voice.

Here on SOL, peregrinf told the same story twice in separate books: 'Carl Naked in School' and then 'Carl Naked in School – Beth's Story'.

Flavian's 'Just a Sec' continues the Middlebury Chronicles, a universe about a company's naughty, incentive program for its executives. In this story the administrative support staff for these executives puts the clues together. Many of the same events are seen through different eyes.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I thought it was "artsy-fartsy"

Sorry, stupid typo which I kept repeating. :( My bad.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

My point was only that an author needs to use some past-perfect tenses - to inform readers that the events being described here happened, or started happening, at some time before the point that the narrative had just reached.

An excellent point, Ross. Even though I'll avoid using past perfect tense verbs whenever possible on general principal, I'd still use them here precisely for the reason which Ross outlines. The events didn't occur in the distant past, but they happened before the current events in a present tense story. In that case, neither present nor past-tense fits. In other words, this is a 'special case' usage of the past-perfect tense.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I picked one at random. Use the variant of your choice or, better still, make up your own.

And please, let's try not to make it openly homophobic while we're at it. 'D

Crumbly Writer

@Mike-Kaye

I have a hard enough time keeping characters straight when a story is written in a single POV told in chronological order. I dislike continuity breaks. Although in Charles Stross's 'Rule 34' I finally got used to each chapter being told in a different first person's voice.

Again, the thing to avoid is telling the exact same story using a different character. Instead, you should write an entirely new scene, to reflect how the different character experienced things different, and how those differences caused them to view the events entirely differently.

If you're simply regurgitated details, and merely saying that someone responds differently, then it's NOT worth the effort. But if you toss out the detailed descriptions, and start the scene from scratch with a new character (i.e. not looking at the original scene for guidance), you'll probably be OK, even if you get several details wrong.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

The events didn't occur in the distant past, but they happened before the current events


No, they happened concurrently.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Again, the thing to avoid is telling the exact same story using a different character.


As usual, it depends.

Since the scene is told from the perspective of the POV character, it could be told differently each time. Think of the movies "Courage Under Fire" and "Vantage Point." The whole premise of the plot is you're told different stories about the same event.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

The events didn't occur in the distant past, but they happened before the current events


No, they happened concurrently.

Supposing consecutive chapters describe the same events which started at 6:00pm and ended at 6:02pm. I would say the story jumps back in time at the start of the second chapter and that is shown in the same way as for flashbacks.

Establishing a 'flashback' may only need a past and perfect tense to be used in first sentence of the second chapter (for example, Abdul and his gang had been waiting [, or alternatively had waited] for our hero to arrive), but I think it is needed.

Back to Top