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1st person narration + multiple POVs = trouble

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Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:45 pm
writerwithacause says...



Hi, YWSers!

I have this novel I'm trying to revise, and I can't seem to put it together.

What I have:
- some parts that are narrated by my 1st MC, and some others that are narrated by a 2nd MC. Now, I feel that in the beginning, and in the end, 1st person POVS do not bring any advantages. So what I want to do is to begin in 3rd person and end likewise. Is this even allowed? I feel like I'm messing up things, and I've tried and tried and tried all over again to write the novel in 3rd person, but it just doesn't work. Then, I tried to resume all story to one single 1st person POV, but that doesn't work either because I want both my main characters to be treated equally, since they bring the same contribution to the story.

My question is... do you think that beginning in a neutral, 3rd person narrative to describe the lives of both my MCs, and then dedicate one chapter to one MC, the other to the other and so on?

Also I've had this idea that I could start the story from a friend's POV, who has the diaries of both MC1 and MC2 and alternate the POVS on this ground, so both characters wrote a diary and their friend puts them all together chronologically? Would it be a better option?
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Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:08 pm
Dynamo says...



It's a pretty strict rule in writing that when writing a story you must always stick with only one point of veiw, whether it's 1st or 3rd person. That's not to say you can't tell certain parts of the story through the eyes of another character, you just can't be switching between "I" and "he" in narration.

However, there are other ways to do what I think you're trying to do. You could always do the narration in 3rd person and have the characters monologue in 1st make making it look like they're talking to themselves in their head. When I do that I usually put the character's inner dialogue in italics, like this. When their whispering I put quotation marks around the italics, "like this," so the readers don't confuse whispering for thinking, and visaversa.

To reiterate, you must never change the POV from 1st to 3rd person in a book. But what you can do is change which eyes the story is being told through. There's nothing stopping you from changing the vantage point from one character to another if the story calls for it, just don't be changing the narration from "I" to "he."

I hope this helps.
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Sat Dec 10, 2011 4:54 pm
Jagged says...



I'm going to disagree with what Dynamo said above. I don't believe there's anything you're not allowed to do when writing - it's not a question of Do I have the right to do this? so much as Do I believe I can pull this off in a way that won't put the reader off the story? If the answer is yes, then go for it.

Here, I think your idea of having things seen first from the friend's PoV and organizing the two other characters' journals is very workable. I think the only thing you would have to be careful with is that then the parts in first-person would have to really read like journal entries or risk sounding off. It also sounds like it could allow for some really nice juxtaposition, exploration of different points of view and unreliable narrators, which is always great.

Basically, do it. You'll see by yourself if it sounds too weird or not, and you'll be able to adjust - but if that's the way it works, then nothing should stop you.
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Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:38 pm
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Dynamo says...



I agree, I was just saying you shouldn't switch between 3rd and 1st person.
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Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:14 pm
Rosey Unicorn says...



Dynamo wrote:I agree, I was just saying you shouldn't switch between 3rd and 1st person.


You made it look like there was no way of making them work in the same novel together, which is very possible.

I agree with Jagged. A third PoV would allow for some very nice juxtaposition between narrators and give us a third, more objective person to latch onto.

Sounds like it could be a lot of fun.
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Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:42 am
writerwithacause says...



Thanks for the comments, everyone! :) I decided to stick to 1st person, and 2 POVS (one per chapter).

Although now that I think of it, I'm sure I could've added an omniscient, 3rd person voice, too. But nah, too much for me. I gave up this idea... it takes too much skill.
Julie, a sucker for romance, historical fashion, medieval fairs and blues music. Add photography and you already know me 50%. The rest of me you'll discover through my writings and my photos.

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Sat Dec 17, 2011 2:54 pm
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Rosey Unicorn says...



I would still try to have some reference to unreliable narrators? Like, the same event happens, and both come away with something totally different. That'd be a very good characterization divide and help keep the narrators apart. Narrator X usually takes away [this perspective] and Narrator Y takes away [another perspective].
You know you're a writer when you're not alarmed at hearing voices in your head, you can't read a book without analyzing it for plot & characters and you consider something you nearly killed yourself to write the most rewarding.

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Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:56 am
writerwithacause says...



But wouldn't that be repeating the same scene, but just told from a different POV?
Julie, a sucker for romance, historical fashion, medieval fairs and blues music. Add photography and you already know me 50%. The rest of me you'll discover through my writings and my photos.

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Sun Dec 18, 2011 2:53 pm
Rosey Unicorn says...



Yes. However, there is a play I've heard of that is one act, and three scenes. And all it depicts is a robbery of a couple.

The first scene is the husband's point of view. The second scene is the wife's. The third has the robber's.

All three are amazingly different, because nobody sees the same thing the same way.

You could also not play the same scene twice, but show the aftermath/reactions in a totally different way. to give a really bad example, say a cake burns while the two are baking. You show the cake burning from one character's PoV, and have her shrug it off for whatever reason and go on with her life. The other PoV picks up, and she's in a panic because a cake burned and the house could've burned down and it wasn't safe and she never wants to bake again.

See what I mean about characters coming away with different perspectives? This happens all the time in real life, too. Like, 99.5% of the time. Maybe not that extreme, but sometimes the differences are that extreme.

It's something to think about. If you're worried about making the voices sound different, focus on how they'll interpret any given situation.
You know you're a writer when you're not alarmed at hearing voices in your head, you can't read a book without analyzing it for plot & characters and you consider something you nearly killed yourself to write the most rewarding.

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Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:22 pm
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writerwithacause says...



Now I see what you mean. Would be interesting to try this one day. ._. I don't think I could do a great job on it though. It'd be a lot of work.
Julie, a sucker for romance, historical fashion, medieval fairs and blues music. Add photography and you already know me 50%. The rest of me you'll discover through my writings and my photos.

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Wed Dec 28, 2011 4:21 am
noninjaspresent says...



A good way to fit in the different POV's is to divide your story into parts and have the POV change in the new part.
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