Question about multiple 1st person pov's

3 years ago | Moonfeather (Member)

I've been working on idea on a novel idea that has two main characters and I'm wondering what works best for writing them without confusing the audience. Should I do different pov's by chapter? I don't think I want to switch pov's mid chapter and make it known to the audience. I feel like it would take readers out of the story.

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Responses

  1. DrewHayes (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    In every shifting POV I've seen, the best ones tend to always do it by chapter. It keeps things clean, and sets a tone that carries through with each entry. Rarely done it myself, but I'd say that's probably the best bet style-wise.

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  2. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    How would you feel about using third person POVs? As a reader, I find switching first person POVs a bit hard to digest. My readers, many of whom migrated to Anathema after reading Worm, used to ask for first person POVs. Ten POV shifts later they're happy with third person.

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  3. zephy669 (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I use at least 8 first person POVs. It works so long as you separate them by chapter and each character has their own goal or desire. It also helps to have a picture up to differentiate each character.

  4. Madiha N. Santana (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Because of the intimacy of first person and how it sets the tone for the story you're reading, I'd keep it to one FP-POV per chapter. That way you can retain consistency across a piece of writing, and set a new tone and keep it in the next piece.

  5. Kess (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Multiple first person points of view can be fun in a story. I've got a few in Starwalker that I use rather randomly, and never had a complaint from readers (and the format of Starwalker means that third person isn't an option for me).

    Definitely keep the switches to chapter breaks. Changing POV more often can work, but you'll need to make it super-clear for the reader, otherwise they'll get confused.

    The characters need to have really distinct voices (this is good practice regardless) but it can be tricky to rely on that alone, particularly for readers new to the story who may not realise at first that you've got more than one POV character. Make it easy for your readers to know who's speaking, whether it's by picture, tags, or title. Confusing the reader tends to make them disconnect from the story (and you only get one shot at 'tricking' them; after that it's annoying).

    I have a simple convention built into Starwalker to support having different POV characters: each log entry starts with whose log it is: ship's log, captain's log, etc. I'm reading a book at the moment that has two POV characters (first person), and each chapter title tells me who I'm reading, and where and when I am (Lottie's Story, <location>, <year>). Work out something that works for you and go for it!

  6. Oniwasabi (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    If you want to do it more often than at the formal chapter breaks, you need to make your scene breaks REALLY obvious. Probably even going so far as to include a little blurb like

    Character
    Location
    Time

    Something that REALLY broadcasts that a perspective change is happening (and honestly at this point you might as well make it a chapter break and potentially just have shorter chapters!)

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  7. Tempest (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    My serial is written in first. I did one interlude that had a different pov in first. It was confusing.

  8. Sten Düring (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    POV shifting in first is evil incarnate as far as this reader goes.

    There's a huge difference between following a character (TP limited) and being said character (FP).

    Switching FP POV induces schizophrenia in the reader.

  9. Alexander.Hollins (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I for one like multiple firsts, as long as something clearly identifies the narrator character in the first couple of paragraphs. of course, once its become standard that you always identify the narrator, the one time you don't adds mystery to teh character!

  10. D. D. Webb (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Unless you have a specific, story-related reason (such as all your entries being various people's personal logs, for example), I'd advise against doing this at all.

    The literary purpose of first-person perspective is to narrow the reader's experience so that they view the story as a character, with all the limitations that implies. They know only what that character knows, and are subject to his or her biases, though they may be more aware of them. It's a way to immerse them in the story and make them relate to that individual. If your story requires multiple perspectives, then that ship has sailed by default. Once you move beyond the viewpoint of one specific individual, you're in a kind of gods-eye view, even if a limited one. At that point you may be better served by simply writing in third person.

    People say the point of the first person perspective is to create a sense of immediacy and urgency, but I've never seen much sense in that argument. It's a matter of how you position the reader in the story; creating immediacy and urgency is your whole job as an author, and shouldn't rely on tricks of perspective. I think first person gets abused because of this in a lot of situations where it's not necessary or beneficial.

    If there are multiple perspectives, jerking your readers about between them just engenders a kind of motion sickness. Give them space to step back a bit.

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  11. Tintenteufel (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I fully agree with everything D.D.Webb said.

    Switching between POVs gives me headaches. Most of the time it is done klunky and rather unpleasant to behold. You have to differentiate them enough that they cannot be confused but ghey cannot be to different because you then run the risk of me hating one and loving the other - especially when they are affiliated.
    It is not worth the hassle. Unless, maybe you write one story at a time - book 2 being what Character B did during book 1 or so

    Blut und Rost - German Webserial about the horror that is human interaction

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