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Author Topic: Using different POVs/styles in one book  (Read 6174 times)

Offline ClintACK

Re: Using different POVs/styles in one book
« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2015, 12:05:27 AM »
I was trying to find a place for this, but then had to create a new thread.
This has been bugging me for a few days, after I finished reading The Quick, by Lauren Owen, but only now I was able to pinpoint it and make some sense.

I'm going to ignore the story itself, the subject, and focus on the 'style', and what annoyed me.

You get the first 100 pages or so in a very specific style, a basic 3rd person limited written as a normal story, a set of characters, story development, etc.
Then suddenly you move into a diary. Notebook entries written by someone completely new, that we haven't met before. And then every few pages you get changes: there's normal story, there's this diary, there's flashbacks, there's action, there's introspective thoughts... and you only get back to the continuation of that first part almost towards the end.

Aside from the lack of coherence, it seems like the problem would be getting 25k words into the story before the first PoV shift.  An earlier shift, even if the diary entry was total fluff, might make it feel a lot less out of left field.

The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time, book 1) goes about a hundred pages in 3rd-limited from one character's PoV before we start to get a chapter in someone else's head, and it feels jarring.  It rises naturally from the plot, as that's the point at which the band of characters is split up into multiple smaller groups geographically, but it still feels odd.  The whole rest of the series works in multiple PoVs, without any problem.  It's just jarring the first time because it comes so late.

In contrast, The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles, book 1) moves from 3rd-omniscient in the frame smoothly to 1st-person for most of the book with the main character telling his story to a traveling historian. The frame gets interspersed, but the change in PoV is seamless and natural.

Offline Raptori

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Re: Using different POVs/styles in one book
« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2015, 01:09:38 AM »
The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time, book 1) goes about a hundred pages in 3rd-limited from one character's PoV before we start to get a chapter in someone else's head, and it feels jarring.  It rises naturally from the plot, as that's the point at which the band of characters is split up into multiple smaller groups geographically, but it still feels odd.  The whole rest of the series works in multiple PoVs, without any problem.  It's just jarring the first time because it comes so late.
That wasn't actually particularly jarring for me actually, since the characters were all already familiar. If it had been a completely new character (or someone who had been minor up to that point) taking over then it would have been. Instead it just felt like a pretty natural progression, since the party had split.  :)
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Offline DrNefario

Re: Using different POVs/styles in one book
« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2015, 11:54:02 AM »
In contrast, The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles, book 1) moves from 3rd-omniscient in the frame smoothly to 1st-person for most of the book with the main character telling his story to a traveling historian. The frame gets interspersed, but the change in PoV is seamless and natural.
For some reason I really don't get on with the frame story in this series. I don't think it's to do with the change of POV, I think I just don't find the "present" very interesting. Although there is always more immediacy with first-person.

Offline ClintACK

Re: Using different POVs/styles in one book
« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2015, 12:15:50 PM »
In contrast, The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles, book 1) moves from 3rd-omniscient in the frame smoothly to 1st-person for most of the book with the main character telling his story to a traveling historian. The frame gets interspersed, but the change in PoV is seamless and natural.
For some reason I really don't get on with the frame story in this series. I don't think it's to do with the change of POV, I think I just don't find the "present" very interesting. Although there is always more immediacy with first-person.

For me, the frame is more mystery clues and less good story.  It's the only part of the story where we have (maybe) an honest narrator.  The scene with the scrael lets us know he really is capable of heroism and monsters really exist, and the scenes with the bandits and skinwalkers show us he's not nearly as competent as in his stories -- but he expects himself to be, and so does Bast.  And Bast's presence tells us fae are real and he's involved with them.  And Chronicler demonstrates true naming exists.  That kind of thing.  Because there are almost certainly outright lies in the story he's telling -- and I keep trying to guess where they might be, and why.

Offline Justan Henner

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Re: Using different POVs/styles in one book
« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2015, 11:11:25 PM »
I use different styles, POV's, and even tenses in the same book pretty often. Not sure if it works, but I enjoy it.

Offline Misty.Mikes

Re: Using different POVs/styles in one book
« Reply #20 on: June 28, 2015, 05:49:55 PM »
I have to agree with most of the people here.... POV shifts can work, but they need to be planned out, and in most cases, brought in from the very beginning.  Normally, sudden shifts of style late in the book annoy me, too.

But like just about everything else, if you can pull it off, it can work.  The example that comes to mind is The Help.  (Not fantasy, I know, but I couldn't think of an example in the fantasy genre). Most of the book is in first-person, jumping between three different narrators.  Then, there's a climactic scene at the end that suddenly shifts to third-person omniscient.  Yes, it's jarring.... But that's kind of what makes it work for me, because of the context.  You need the third-person POV for that scene to "work". 

It probably also helps that in the case of The Help, the technique is used very sparingly.  There's nothing else particularly unusual about the way the book is structured, and it's only a one-chapter diversion before returning to the original style that the author had established.  For me, it was effective.

Offline ClintACK

Re: Using different POVs/styles in one book
« Reply #21 on: September 03, 2015, 08:51:42 PM »
The Martian used different PoV styles really effectively.

Most of the story is told in 1st-person log entries from an astronaut stranded on Mars.

In between, there are bits of "what's going on back home" as NASA and JPL personnel scramble to try to help him.  These are told in the standard 3rd-person perspective.