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Chris G.
June 30th, 2005, 08:43 AM
I have been reading about other writer's styles and there seems to be a debate on viewpoint out there. I tend to write in third person Omniscient. I'll start a scene in one character's head, and jump to another character's when I feel I need to.

What I am reading convinces me that this is very confusing to a reader though. What is everyone's take on the issue?

Oh, also, I have read that some writers use a gap in the scene speparated by a "#" sign to illustrate a change in perspective. Suddenly, after three novels in a trilogy, I am re-reading my work with a jaundiced eye on this issue.

Crow
June 30th, 2005, 11:11 AM
If you jump from one from one POV to another without a break in the chapter, then I suggest reading Frank Herbert's Dune on how to pull that off effectively.

Ward
June 30th, 2005, 01:30 PM
It can be done but its tricky, and even when it clear sometimes its...unattractive. but as Talan says Dune is a good example where it works, for the most part.

I think the best compromise for omniscient/limited omniscient is to have one POV character per chapter or section (as you remark, though i've never seen them seperated by number signs...?), this lets you get in everybody's head, just not all at once, and preserves some of the integrety of each scene. personally, I prefer a single point of view character for conversations, etc.

MrBF1V3
July 1st, 2005, 01:05 AM
I generally have my POV 'follow' one character, occasionally I'll jump to another in the middle of a scene. I don't make a big announcement when I switch, but I do make sure it's obvious whose head I'm in. i.e.

"I think you look lovely," Bob said, while he was wondering just how colorblind Sheila had to be.
Sheila was happy, her first time out starting a new trend was better than her wildest dreams. She would be a world famous designer in no time.

If you want to know if your writing is confusing, Chris G., try reading your writing. The threads here give you good advice, mostly, but it is usually general, not specific. There are a number of rules, but not many are unbreakable. The trick is to break the rules correctly.

B5

KatG
July 1st, 2005, 01:24 AM
You are not allowed to bring up this topic. No, seriously, I may have to tie you down and sic ants on you. :)

Most sf and fantasy fiction, certainly at novel length, is written in third person omniscient. So if your work is written in such, it's perfectly normal. (Right now, I'm reading China Mieville's award-winning fantasy "Iron Council" and Walter Miller's award-winning sf "A Canticle for Leibowitz," both of which are in 3rd p omni.) Whether your pov shifts are confusing or not has nothing to do with the third person omniscient format and everything to do with how you in particular write pov shifts. There aren't any rules for how to do it -- 3rd p omni has dozens of different forms -- but if you make it confusing, and not on purpose, well then, yes, it can be confusing. To some readers. Possibly all readers, but this is unlikely.

If it's bugging you, it may be a problem. You may want to get some test readers and see if there really is confusion on this issue. But if you just think you've picked the wrong viewpoint format and all the cool kids use other formats, then seriously, I'm getting the ants. Third person omniscient format is probably more popular than it's ever been since the days when it was the only format around, and I'm getting real tired of people asking, can I use this pov or is it awful. Especially since no one seems to know that they are usually reading third person omniscient novels on a regular basis.

"Oh, also, I have read that some writers use a gap in the scene speparated by a "#" sign to illustrate a change in perspective. Suddenly, after three novels in a trilogy, I am re-reading my work with a jaundiced eye on this issue."

This is called a scene or section break. It is usually shown in printed books not with the # sign but by several blank lines. You've probably read books with dozens of scene breaks and never noticed. A scene break is not only for changing from one pov to another (and in an omniscient format are not necessary for that purpose but can be used for that purpose.) A scene break allows you to shape text within a chapter, in the same ways that you do with chapter breaks. They can be used in a story in any type of viewpoint format. "Iron Council" for instance, has lots of scene breaks.

3evp
July 16th, 2005, 02:21 AM
I wonder if anyone has written a SF/Fantasy novel in first person and if it was successful. I have never read one, though would probably find it interesting.

Holbrook
July 16th, 2005, 02:53 AM
I wonder if anyone has written a SF/Fantasy novel in first person and if it was successful. I have never read one, though would probably find it interesting.

A number of Robin Hobbs's books, Mary Gentle's, Step Swainson(sp) all are high in the best sellers, all are written in first person.

KatG
July 17th, 2005, 05:38 PM
Also Stephen Brusts' bestselling fantasy Jhereg series, both of Glen Cook's popular fantasy series, and oh, too many first person titles to count. The three main formats that are used are third person omniscient, third person limited and first person, with 3p omni having the edge in sf/f. Mixed formats, where different formats are used for different sections of a work, are not uncommon. Beyond that, the fancier formats -- revolving first, first p omni or semi-omni, second person -- you're more likely to see in sf/f in short stories than novels.

Evil Agent
July 18th, 2005, 01:44 PM
Yep, definitely Hobb. The use of first person in her Farseer Trilogy is what made me love the series/identify with the character so much.

Miriamele
July 18th, 2005, 08:55 PM
The Dark Glory War by Micheal Stackpole was written in first person, but somehow I don't think it worked. He spent too much time describing everyone's clothes and weapons and it started to sound ridiculous. The following books in the series were in third person and they seemed to flow a lot better.