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Mixing POV types between characters

evilynnthales

I'm writing a story and one of the main characters is very arrogant and selfish. I'd like to make her scenes first person, and the rest of the book 3rd person limited.

Thoughts?

Ernest Bywater

I've seen a few stories done that way, and they always came across as badly written and hard to follow.

You can always write the whole story as first person, but when you have a scene where that character isn't present be sure to have a clean scene break and make it clear the new scene has another person as the focus of the view point. In my story Rough Diamond I do that, so it's an example of what I mean.

https://storiesonline.net/s/59645/rough-diamond

Crumbly Writer

I'm considering (started, but it's currently waiting in my 'to write' pile) where I take a similar tack. Rather than a single character, it's a post apocalyptic story, with several repeating sections (groups of chapters) focusing on specific groups of survivors, where each section uses a unique POV (first, 3rd Omni, 3rd Limited, 2nd), each of which highlights the limits of their own viewpoints. As the story progresses, each group ends up confronting the limits of their limited views.

Unfortunately, since I haven't seen this handled before (at least moderately successfully), I can't offer much advice on how to make it work until I get farther into the story and see the pitfalls I encounter. But ... it's a potential pitfall (technical squick) for many readers.

To address this, I'm added a Preface, explaining the unusual approach, detailing how it's used and reason why I'm implementing it. In short, many will see the technique as a personal affront, a demonstration that you don't know WTF you're doing, thus you'll need to head that criticism off at the pass, so readers know it's a style choice, rather than simple ignorance (i.e. buy time from skeptical readers until you have a chance to prove yourself as the story unfolds).

awnlee jawking

@evilynnthales

I'm writing a story and one of the main characters is very arrogant and selfish. I'd like to make her scenes first person, and the rest of the book 3rd person limited.


My two penn'orth.

I think first person would work well with such a character. To pull it off though, I suspect the third person limited scenes would need to be very limited, not communicating the private thoughts or feelings of the characters except as evident to the others eg the expressions on faces or dialogue.

Good luck and more power to your pencil,

AJ

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@evilynnthales

Anything can be done. But the more unique, the more difficult because the reader isn't used to it.

I would actually make the non-1st-person scenes omniscient. Write the story from the 1st-person narrator's POV, but then throw in an omniscient narrator to tell the reader stuff the character doesn't know.

Uther_Pendragon

@evilynnthales

It seems to me that a story is either 1st-person or it is not. OTOH, I've seen books by a professional author which have chapters 1st-person by different characters. (I, however, didn't enjoy those stories as much as I have enjoyed other stories by that author.

I use something I call "first-third," which is a third-person report which sticks closely to the one POV character.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Uther_Pendragon

I use something I call "first-third," which is a third-person report which sticks closely to the one POV character.


Sounds like 3rd-person limited from a single character's POV. I do that.

Replies:   Uther_Pendragon
Daler

I took a similar approach with a book I've been posting on this site. I have two time lines going on, past and present and decided to write in past and perfect tenses all first person as i go back and forth. I knew it would be hard to pull off but it was a way to challenge and sharpen my writing as it gave me a new type of focus and rules to consider.

It's harder than i expected as first person perfect is very challenging when writing direct action scenes. "I'm running away from a bad guy and screaming!" Easier in past tense third person omniscient but of course it can be done and those that do it well pull off a nice effect.

So much easier to write in past tense, third person but i think it's a good exercise to discover and solidify the differences in style.

A lot more careful editing required along with an understanding editor who is strong in grammar.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
evilynnthales

After more research, and reading the comments here, I'm going to put that idea on hold for now. I'll just use a very "close" third person narrator instead.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@evilynnthales

I'll just use a very "close" third person narrator instead.


As in 3rd-person limited multiple?

Replies:   evilynnthales
evilynnthales

@Switch Blayde

I think so? Third person limited., Each scene only has one viewpoint, but the viewpoint can change between scenes/chapters. By "close" I mean that lot of thoughts will be in the text.

Main characters will (hopefully) have very distinct personalties, in thought, in deed, and in how they see the world.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Daler

Yeah that's the easiest way to go. Still takes focus and discipline to keep it consistent but much easier to manage.

However, if that's not the type of story you want to write, do yourself a favor and take on the challenge and try something harder. You're not likely to make any money either way and will be writing just for the fun of it so make it as interesting for yourself as you can.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@evilynnthales


Each scene only has one viewpoint, but the viewpoint can change between scenes/chapters. By "close" I mean that lot of thoughts will be in the text.


3rd-person limited = the story is from one character's POV. It's basically like 1st-person except for the pronouns. When you change POVs at a scene change, it's 3rd-person limited multiple (meaning you have multiple 3rd-limited POVs).

Close (or deep POV) is something different. With close, the reader is put in the character's shoes. The reader sees, hears, feels, etc. what the character does. There are words that pull the reader out of the character and remind him there's an author. Filter words such as felt, heard, wondered, saw, etc, do that. Those words are not used in close.

ETA: Here's an example I found:

Out of Deep POV

At last, the tremors subsided and the earth stilled. Maggie wondered how bad the earthquake had been. She looked around and saw the deep black gashes in the ground where the pavement of the road had cracked. She knew that it must have been at least a 7.0.


In Deep POV

At last, the tremors subsided and the earth stilled. How bad had this one been? All around, wide cracks gashed the pavement as though the road were soft as flesh. Despite the heat, a shiver coursed up Maggie's spine. She sat unblinking, rattled by the devastation.

Uther_Pendragon

@Switch Blayde

Sounds like 3rd-person limited from a single character's POV. I do that.


Yabbut. You can do 1st-person limited with "John thought that this was very selfish of Mary."

This is more likely to come out, "This was very selfish of Mary."

Switch Blayde

@Uther_Pendragon

"John thought that this was very selfish of Mary."

This is more likely to come out, "This was very selfish of Mary."


That's an example of close POV. In the first one, the author is telling the reader what the POV character thought. In the second one (the close POV), the reader is basically in the POV character's head.

There is much more distance between the reader and character in the first one, hence the term close for the second one.

Here's another example:

The car whizzed by.
vs
Joe saw the car whizz by.


In the second one, the not close one, the reader is watching the character see the car whizz by. In the close one, the reader experiences the car whizzing by through the character.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

the reader experiences the car whizzing by through the character.


What if it's important for the overall scene for the reader to know the car whizzed by but Joe lost in thought didn't notice it?

Daler

@Dominions Son

Good challenge. Obviously depends on context and tense but if it's past tense and later on he learns he missed the car, could be something like ,"I probably should have noticed that car whizzing by but i was occupied with the hot chick strolling down the sidewalk. "

Replies:   Dominions Son
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

What if it's important for the overall scene for the reader to know the car whizzed by but Joe lost in thought didn't notice it?


That's why I sometimes throw in a little omniscient in a 3rd-limited story.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Daler


but if it's past tense and later on he learns he missed the car, could be something like ,"I probably should have noticed that car whizzing by but i was occupied with the hot chick strolling down the sidewalk. "


That doesn't work for the situation I was thinking of: showing that he is so deeply lost in his own head that he's oblivious to EVERYTHING around him to the point of nearly being run over by a car and he still didn't notice the car or react to it in any way.

Replies:   Daler
Daler

@Dominions Son

Sure

REP
Updated:

Close ? ? ? ?

Where did "Close" come from? I never heard of it being used to refer to a POV until this thread.

Evilynnthales said "I'll just use a very "close" third person narrator instead" and Switch Blayde responded, "As in 3rd-person limited multiple?"

What I think is going on, and I don't know who actually originated all of the apparently "new" POV terms that have cropped up in this and prior threads, is that we had a standard set of 6 possible POV terms (i.e. 6 possible POVs made from combining "Limited-Omni" with the "1st, 2nd, and 3rd Person POVs". Then someone decided that their writing style didn't match any of the 6 terms. It probably matched, but the author wanted to appear to be unique, and you aren't unique if one of the standard terms can be applied to you. So that someone decided to expand the POV terms that had been in use. Then others started "splitting hairs" to justify their perception of their writing style not fitting the mold of 6 POVs; even though the fit was just fine to the rest of us.

That led to a whole slew of new POV terms over the past years. I read an article about a year ago and I vaguely recall that it said there were now 26 POVs accepted by the literary society.

At the start of this thread no one that I am aware of used "Close" as a POV term. Now toward the end of the thread it is being used to define a POV. Then Switch Blade started referring to "Close" as "Deep POV".

With all the "split-hair" POVs, is there any wonder why it is so difficult to understand the various POV combinations of "Limited-Omni" with the "1st, 2nd, and 3rd Person" POVs?

evilynnthales
Updated:

@REP

Edit: Never mind, you already said all of that. Ignore me :P

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@REP


and Switch Blayde responded, "As in 3rd-person limited multiple?"

…all of the apparently "new" POV


Sorry for the confusion. "Close" is not a POV. There are only 4 POVs:

1. 1st-person
2. 2nd-person
3. 3rd-person
4. omniscient

And some would say there are only 3 and that omniscient is a subset of 1st or 3rd (1st-omni or 3rd-omni), but it's probably best to set it off on its own. "Limited" is used to differentiate between 3rd-limited and 3rd-omniscient. "Multiple" is not a POV. It's added to limited when you tell the story from multiple POVs (rather than tell the story from a single character's POV in 3rd-limited). I don't even know if many people use the term (that is, when someone says they wrote it in 3rd-limited you can't assume it's from a single character's POV).

"Close" or "deep" is not a POV. It's how you write. A style. How distant is the POV character from the reader?

Replies:   REP
REP
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


There are only 4 POVs:


Narration is done from 3 points of view, not 4.

Omniscient is not a point of view. Omniscient and Limited indicate the amount of information the narrator has to divulge.

I suggest you go back and read your posts starting with the ‎3‎/‎8‎/‎2019‎ ‎9‎:‎19‎:‎31‎ ‎PM post. You repeatedly use Close POV and Deep POV.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@REP

You repeatedly use Close POV and Deep POV.


As a style. Is it a distant POV or a close POV? I apologized for the confusion.

Omniscient is not a point of view.


I said you can say there are 3 POVs (1st, 2nd, 3rd) and omni is a subset of 1st and 3rd. Or you can say omniscient is a POV because the story is told through the omniscient narrator's POV. It's semantics.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Or you can say omniscient is a POV because the story is told through the omniscient narrator's POV. It's semantics.


I agree with @REP. If omniscient is a point of view, then limited must be too. And that's obviously nonsensical.

AJ

Replies:   REP  Crumbly Writer
REP

@awnlee jawking

then limited must be too.


I think SB is defining it differently.

We think of omniscient and limited as adjectives that define how much information the narrator reveals. SB is calling them subsets into which he sorts narrators that know everything and those with only limited information.

It's all about how you view the two sets of terms.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@REP


SB is calling them subsets into which he sorts narrators that know everything and those with only limited information.


Yes.

There are 3 POVs: 1st, 2nd, 3rd.

1. 1st-person (default is not omni because it's rare. It's only omni if specifically stated.)

2. 2nd-person

3. 3rd-person (can't say 3rd-person by itself. Must state if it's 3rd-limited or 3rd-omni. If you want to add "multiple" to a 3rd-person limited story told from multiple character's POVs you can, but you don't have to.)

And "limited" and "omniscient" refer to how much the narrator knows, not how much they tell the reader.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@REP

We think of omniscient and limited as adjectives that define how much information the narrator reveals. SB is calling them subsets into which he sorts narrators that know everything and those with only limited information.


Now that makes sense.

I bet there's someone out there who has contrived to write a 2nd omni story. If you know of one, I do not want to read it ;)

AJ

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


I bet there's someone out there who has contrived to write a 2nd omni story.


What if the Bible was written in 2nd-person.

On the first day, You created…

ETA: That's not omniscient. "You" isn't the narrator.

Replies:   REP  Crumbly Writer
REP

@Switch Blayde

"You" isn't the narrator.


It would be if God were doing the narration.

A true 2nd person story is relatively rare and not really worth disputing Omni versus Limited. The narrator would almost have to be Omni for it to work, but I think Limited might be true. I say true because way to many people think using you in the story makes it second person.

The only time we know what the narrator knows is when he speaks, so it is the revelation of the information that determines if the narrator is Omni or Limited.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@REP

"You" isn't the narrator.

It would be if God were doing the narration.


I jokingly said the Bible in 2nd-omni with "You" being God. But the omni narrator could not be God because the narrator is telling the story about God (You) creating the world. So my example didn't work.

It was a joke that didn't work.

Replies:   REP
REP

@Switch Blayde

It was a joke that didn't work.


I think it worked fine.

After all, the Bible is essentially a book in which God is telling his followers how to live their lives. So it wasn't a great stretch of my imagination to view God as the Omni narrator and rest of us being "You".

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@REP

So it wasn't a great stretch of my imagination to view God as the Omni narrator and rest of us being "You"


Except I said something like: "You created the earth on day 1." So "You" was God. If he was the omni narrator it would be "I created" and be written in 1st-omni.

Replies:   REP
REP
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

:)

Don't forget that religious scholars and churches say that the bible was written by a number of "authors" and God was speaking through the people who wrote the books of the bible. From that point of view, God could be viewed as the narrator and since God knows all, he would be an Omni narrator.

Switch Blayde

@REP

God could be viewed as the narrator and since God knows all, he would be an Omni narrator.


Yes, that's how it's written. But in 3rd-omni.

Crumbly Writer

@Daler

A lot more careful editing required along with an understanding editor who is strong in grammar.

I agree. It's a VERY useful writing exercise, though that doesn't mean they need to be posted/published. 'D These are things ALL writers need to experiment with to determine their capabilities and what they're comfortable writing, but once you pick your preferred POV, one should stick to it.

That said, I also think a book which switches between POV can be effective, but it's problematic, at best, so you need to set expectations to ensure readers know it's a 'character technique', rather than a case of author ignorance. :(

Crumbly Writer

@Uther_Pendragon

Yabbut. You can do 1st-person limited with "John thought that this was very selfish of Mary."

This is more likely to come out, "This was very selfish of Mary."

That's classic 'show vs. tell':

The edges of John's lips dipped, his brows furrowing. Mary grinned, poking his cheek. "I've always loved those dimples."

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

What if it's important for the overall scene for the reader to know the car whizzed by but Joe lost in thought didn't notice it?

Joe pondered the situation, momentarily distracted by the sudden wind of a passing vehicle, as gravel struck his leg. Bending to check his pants leg, he glanced up catching only a single taillight. Shrugging, he went back to pondering his dilemma, but remaining farther from the road than before.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I agree with @REP. If omniscient is a point of view, then limited must be too. And that's obviously nonsensical.

"Omniscient" is a subset of 3rd Person POV, just as "Limited" is a subset of 1st Person POV. They aren't separate POVs in and of themselves, but they differentiate different 1st & 3rd POV.

Now, the key question: what about close 2nd Limited views? ')

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@REP

We think of omniscient and limited as adjectives that define how much information the narrator reveals. SB is calling them subsets into which he sorts narrators that know everything and those with only limited information.

That's a decent descriptions. I used "subset" to describe Omni & Limited too, but "adjectives defining how much information is revealed" is much more informative.

I'll try to use that terminology from now on.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

3. 3rd-person (can't say 3rd-person by itself. Must state if it's 3rd-limited or 3rd-omni. If you want to add "multiple" to a 3rd-person limited story told from multiple character's POVs you can, but you don't have to.)

There's also 'multiple' 3rd limited, where the 3rd person ONLY describes what each character knows. In use, multiple 3rd limited typically jumps POV between section or chapter breaks.

However, with 'close multi-3rd limited', characters tend to bump into each other frequently, as there's too little room for them all to move within the same chapter/section. 'D

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I bet there's someone out there who has contrived to write a 2nd omni story. If you know of one, I do not want to read it ;)

"You walk into the maze, noticing that the door on the right leads down up a steep set of narrow stairs, while the door on the left opens into a wide, dark chamber. Which do you chose?"

That's how you do 2nd Omni, as the 3rd-omnicient narrator describes what YOU (the 2nd-person pronoun) observes.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

What if the Bible was written in 2nd-person.

On the first day, You created…

ETA: That's not omniscient. "You" isn't the narrator.

On the 1st day, God created the universe, he observed. "God's such a damn showoff. Now if only he'd put that much attention into creating intelligent living creatures, but as always, he loses interest once a project gets challenging." 'D

Crumbly Writer

@REP

From that point of view, God could be viewed as the narrator and since God knows all, he would be an Omni narrator.

Nope. Instead, God/Dog serves as the jester, tricking each idiot scholar into thinking they had the 'One True' interpretation of the truth, when he'd only been pulling/gnawing on their legs.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

"Omniscient" is a subset of 3rd Person POV, just as "Limited" is a subset of 1st Person POV.


Limited and Omniscient are subsets of 3rd-person (a limited narrator or an omni narrator). You can also have omniscient in 1st-person ("The Book Thief" is 1st-person omni).

Several people mentioned 1st-limited here. I don't believe you use "limited" with 1st-person.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Again, my postulated scene is no reaction by Joe, not even after the fact and no adjustment in his behavior.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

Again, my postulated scene is no reaction by Joe, not even after the fact and no adjustment in his behavior.


If Joe is the POV character and he doesn't know the car whizzed by, AND it's important for the reader to know the car whizzed by, you have the following choices:

1. Write the story in 3rd-person omniscient. Now Joe isn't the POV character, the omni narrator is and can tell the reader anything.

2. Write it in 3rd-limited and somehow end the scene there and start a new scene with another POV character seeing the car whizz by. Kind of hokey.

3. Violate the 3rd-limited rule and tell the reader something the POV character doesn't know. That's what I meant by throwing in a little omniscient.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

3. Violate the 3rd-limited rule and tell the reader something the POV character doesn't know. That's what I meant by throwing in a little omniscient.

That's the thing about omniscience, those obnoxious omniscient beings keep poppin' up all over, one time as an Oxe, another as Death, yet another as a cockroach (actually, that was 1st, if I'm not mistaken). With perfect knowledge of all things related to the story, if also (sometimes) include the power to violate the rules of physics and the limits of time.

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