Jump to content
Graeme

Recommendations on multiple third-person POV?

Recommended Posts

I've started writing a new story and I'm using third person POV for the first time (at least in a long story). I want to use multiple POVs, but the feedback I've received from a reader indicates that it's not working well.

My original intention was to have one POV per chapter, but I'm now concerned that this is dragging things out too much.

What I've got planned is a story with three main POVs and set of minor ones.

Should I try to stick with one POV per chapter? The complaint about that was it left the reader waiting to see what happened next to that character, which could be several chapters further down the track. If I did it that way, they suggested I try to publish the complete story in one shot, so the reader isn't left waiting for an extended time.

Should I switch to multiple POVs per chapter, as appropriate, so that the story is tighter, but at the expense of breaking the readers "connection" with the characters as the POV changes?

Any suggestions/recommendations/comments?

Link to comment

I think I need to clarify. I will be using third-person limited POV throughout the story. At the moment, each chapter is third-person from the perspective of one character. ie. you get to find out what is happening around them.

A chapter has, so far, between two and four scenes. I've kept each scene in a chapter focused on what's happening around the same character. In a different chapter, I am currently focusing on a different character.

What has been suggested to me is that this is causing the story to drag too much. I believe I should stick to one character per scene, but maybe my (self-imposed) restriction of focusing on one character per chapter is inappropriate.

To use a published example of what I'm talking about, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series has a number of groups of characters. Each chapter is written following one particular group, and interprets things from that group's point of view, even if other groups are participating in the same chapter. That is the effect of what I was looking at doing, but maybe I need to pare it down to one perspective per scene, rather than one perspective per chapter.

Link to comment
ITo use a published example of what I'm talking about, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series has a number of groups of characters. Each chapter is written following one particular group, and interprets things from that group's point of view, even if other groups are participating in the same chapter. That is the effect of what I was looking at doing, but maybe I need to pare it down to one perspective per scene, rather than one perspective per chapter.

First, sorry, I obviously misunderstood what you were asking.

Second, I like your writing (but you know that). However, I stopped reading the WOT series at book 8 because he goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on without saying anything. Don't fall into that trap. He started nicely and became awfully full of himself. Blathering becomes no-one.

So, give it a shot. It CAN work.

Link to comment

I read the WOT books for a while too, and noticed a marked slide into oblivion. It is not worth the time and money investment.

One thing I've liked the odd time I've seen it, is the passing on of the story from one character to another almost like a relay race. The story follows one character, to a certain point, then switches to another, and follows chronologically the new 'action' experienced by the 'new' lead character, and onwards in this fashion. It is not a series of 'cliff hangers' which is likely what that reader was complaining about.

Link to comment
I think I need to clarify. I will be using third-person limited POV throughout the story. At the moment, each chapter is third-person from the perspective of one character. ie. you get to find out what is happening around them.

I don't think a technique that limiting is necessary. I think if you just mainly center on the perspective of one character per scene, you'll be safe.

I found with the one (and so far, the only) 3rd person omniscient story I've written so far, ANGEL, that what worked for me was to stick with showing the inner thoughts of only one person per scene. The moment I tried to get inside somebody else's head, it got very confusing, very quickly. What did work was, you could start a scene in an empty room, revealing the thoughts of one character in that room, then change to another perspective the moment a new character enters. But I quickly realized, you can't switch back once you've gone over to a new character.

The other thing is transitions -- opening the scene and closing the scene, or when a key character enters or leaves the room. That's where you can get a way with this kind of trickery. Once I was aware of the technique, I began noticing how other authors do the same thing. J.K. Rowling is a big one on this in her Harry Potter series. Once you're inside Potter's head, you don't immediately jump inside Dumbledore, or any of the other characters. Makes total sense to me.

Link to comment

Hi, all,

As long as the cues in narration, dialogue, and characters' personalities make it clear whose head the reader's in, then fine, go for it. Why not have each chapter for a single character's POV, if it's important and fits the story?

Characterization, giving each character a distinct persona, is one of your strengths, Graeme, and you understand dialogue too, so I see no problem with you doing this. You just have cold feet, mate.

One advantage of getting into each character's POV sequentially, and staying there a while, is that the reader can see how each character sees the others around him or her. Two characters might see a third character quite differently, and the total will add up to a more complete picture for the reader. Aha, but you're worried that might confuse the reader, eh? Jim says John is like this, Jane says John is like that, who's right? Perhaps they're both right. Perhaps both Jim and Jane don't have the complete picture. It can work to the storyteller's advantage to conceal plot and character points so that the reader isn't quite sure about John. How John feels about the whole thing is also a subject for the author to tackle.

Link to comment

Thanks, everyone!

My plan with this story is to try to get as much as possible written before I start posting it, so I can try to go back to fix any issues that arise. I'm finding it a lot more of a challenge with planning than a first-person-POV story, as I have to choose the most appropriate character to be the "centre" of each scene.

Graeme

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...


×
×
  • Create New...