POV Confusion

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Steve C

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I am considering rewriting my WIP in the first-person POV of the two MCs. Until the final chapter, they appear in different places and times so no problem there but in the final chapter, they are reunited and appear together. Do I select one of them as the POV and stick to it or is it possible to have two first-person POVs in the same chapter.
Also, there are chapters where neither are present. Do I write those scenes from third person POV of one of those involved or as a flashback in the mind of either of the two MCs who imagine what must have happened or now know what happened? Is this switching from first to third POV a normal thing to do?
Clear as mud eh? Any advice welcome, please.
 
I suppose the first question to ask is - why are you rewriting it in the first person?

Have you had feedback that suggests this would drastically improve the novel?

It'll be a lot of work so it really needs to be worth it.
 
When writing in multiple POVs, whether it’s first or third, who has the most at stake in the scene? That’s the character who should get the POV in that scene. If it’s equal, give them each part of the scene.
 
Also, there are chapters where neither are present. Do I write those scenes from third person POV of one of those involved or as a flashback in the mind of either of the two MCs who imagine what must have happened or now know what happened?
Are you writing this in present tense? If you write the scenes from one of those involved's POV in present tense it would mean this particular person knows what happened to that other person without actually being there. Not sure I'm making sense here so I'll use my previous novel as an example. I wrote a novel from a daughter's POV. Nina narrated the whole thing in present tense, even her mother's scenes where Nina wasn't actually present; a bit like: 'Mum fetches her purse and off she goes to the hardware store. She must have a new axe, after all one must defend oneself against the Mafia.' When Pete saw it in a pop-up he said 'oh, how does Nina know her mother is buying an axe. That's quite disturbing.' Or something to that effect. He said the POV was wrong in those scenes. Nina couldn't know her mother is buying an axe unless she was psychic. I shall now be re-writing these scenes from the mum's POV. I don't think you can narrate a scene from 'A's POV about what happens to 'B' without 'A' actually being there (unless 'A' is guessing).

When neither is present, does any of it relate to one of the MCs? In that case could that particular MC actually narrate it from their POV? If they're not present, do you need perhaps a third narrator (not sure that's the way to go, but just a question.)

I quite like your flashback idea of one of them imagining what might have happened. But that might make them sound a tad paranoid, and it might also make the POV unreliable and leave questions for the reader if it really did happen.
 
I suppose the first question to ask is - why are you rewriting it in the first person?

Have you had feedback that suggests this would drastically improve the novel?
Blimey, that's a bit prescient. That is precisely why I am thinking about it! :)
I'm not afraid of the work and at the moment just toying with it.
 
If I were doing this, I'd try to completely eliminate the scenes in which neither of the POV characters were involved--I'd look for some way for the critical parts of those scenes to happen in the presence of one of the POV characters. For the chapter in which they both appear, I might split the POV between them, but only if it were absolutely necessary and made sense given the action--as a reader I don't mind chapter by chapter changes in POV, but the chapters that flick frequently between POV drive me bonkers.

Of course, the best way to know if it would work better is to make the changes you want to make, and then give it to some beta readers... Can't tell you how many times I've changed something based on one set of beta readers, and then changed it back (at least partly) based on a second set. I like to think of it as practice. ;)
 
Consider your genre. Is it done? I’m almost through changing mine from 3rd person past to first person present tense. It’s taken a few months working on it 5 hours everyday. And it’s currently 72000. Mind you, with 2 fingers sometimes one on days my other doesn’t want to work, it’s slower than normal. NANOWRIMO says 5 words a minute. It’s a lot of work. Like @Robert M Derry says, why? And is it worth it?

My genre is YA. I did research. The genre is half half. So I had the green light there. Then I tested a scene (keeping a copy of my original). Then I posted that on here for comments. Then I edited that scene, again posting for comments. Only after I received positive feedback did I go ahead and change everything. But it does help you learn a lot. I can often pick apart why a sentence isn’t working and fix that too. So it’s a valuable learning experience.
 
Thanks for all the input which to be honest has scared me into sticking with third person. At least I sort of know how to do that whereas first person appears full of traps and potential mistakes. There are a few chapters which cannot include either of my MCs and the only one where they are both present is the final reunion which is equally important to both. I do like reading first person but feel more comfortable writing in third.
Tricky business this writing eh? :)
 
Look at The Fifth Season by N.K.Jemison. This uses three POV characters. Two of them get told in third person present tense. The third POV gets second person (You) present tense. This book has won awards.

Readers are far more forgiving than we writers tend to be. So long as you're consistent, I don't think it matters greatly how you handle your voices and POVs. Adding a third POV for the chapters where neither of the two MCs appear? No problem. Telling those chapters in omniscient, from a narrator's perspective? I'd suggest the narrator has to appear within the first couple of chapters, so the reader knows s/he's lurking in the background, but I think you'd get away with it.

For the chapter where they both appear, I'd choose one of them to be the POV. Is either of them more central to the story than the other? Have more to lose or gain? That's probably the one to pick.
 
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