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Holbrook
April 25th, 2004, 03:46 AM
POV, point of view.

I know I don't have this perfect in my work, that it shifts now and then, but recently been told I wouldn't know POV if it came up and bit me in the bum. That my work was so riddled with POV shifts it was unreadable....

Never had that said before by anyone.... got me very worried about my whole approach and style of writing. Doing nothing different than I have done before. So this has led me to the conclusion that I have had this problem from the get go... but if I have why has my work gotten off the slush pile.... If the structure was so bad as to make it unreadable, then editors, rightly should have binned it....

I am confused, concerned and worried about the whole format and style of my writing. Does this mean I have to strip it down to the bare bones and rebuild it? Because, that I doubt I can do... Not only from the machanics side of it, but the emotional as well. It would mean every word I have written in seven years is crap.

El_Pollo_Diablo
April 25th, 2004, 04:49 AM
First, I think you are being way too hard on yourself. I find it hard to believe that something that is the culmination of seven years of hard work is crap. Also, if these are the comments of a single person out of dozens who, presumably, haven't torn your work apart, I don't think that it is the end of the world. You can't please everyone all the time, right? If anything, it would be impossible to expect no negative feedback from every single reader.

Second, if you want to change the POV structure/style in your story, I hope that you consider it for the right reasons. I think that the operative idea is what you want . If you truly believe in the current integrety of your story, why let one person's views change everything? Don't let the one bad apple spoil the bunch. I'm sorry if I sound preachy, but I have had my troubles with negative feedback (which is great and all) but I came to the realization that it is me, the author, who gets the final say. Hope these rambling bits helped.

choppy
April 25th, 2004, 05:01 AM
It would mean every word I have written in seven years is crap.

Based on the successes you've had and from what I've read, I highly doubt it.

It's been my experience that a quickly changing POV is something that really erks some people, where others don't seem to notice it so much. It's kind of like when someone points out a knock in your car's engine - once you know it's there, it drives you insane, but if no one said anything, you wouldn't have even noticed.

One comment shouldn't mean that it's time to overhaul your approach to writing. You may want to look at the specific passage that prompted the comment. Maybe you would write something concentrating on a specific POV, or try writing from a POV you don't normally use. Get a few more opinions and if there are consistent flaws that you want to change, you can start working on them.

It's 03:22 in the morning. I really need to sleep. Cheers!

Dawnstorm
April 25th, 2004, 05:47 AM
Here's what I've written about that Oracle excerpts you posted (emphasis added):


3. I found the reaper-episode was clerverly done. Description of the scenery (river, fields, sky...) which happens to include reapers... But wait. The words react to the reapers. A point of view shift occurs and we get our first outside view of Oracle.

Do I need to say that I found this pov-shift works very well?

I can't recall ever having problems with pov-shifts in what you've written.

Unreadable? Frankly, I'm baffled... :confused:

Gallowglass
April 25th, 2004, 08:00 AM
Christopher Stasheff wrote a very interesting book called "A Company of Stars: Book I of Starship Troopers", a theatre company who decides to go way off Broadway by taking their acts in a refurbished starship to the colony worlds of Earth. The sequels are "We Open on Venus" and "Slight Detour".

Initially confusing but I quickly settled into it was the POV changes between two of the main characters - Ramou Lazarian, a young martial artist encountering the world of the theatre for the first time; and Horace Burbage, an aging actor Ramou knows as 'Morty the Milkman'.

The POV shifts help us get a rounded picture of the aspects of a theatre company "on the road" as it were, with Ramou learning the trade while the more senior Horace concerns himself with the politics and pressures Ramou is yet unaware.

Really POV shifts if done right are a very effective way to tell a story completely.

KatG
April 25th, 2004, 04:09 PM
Originally posted by Holbrook
POV, point of view.

I know I don't have this perfect in my work, that it shifts now and then, but recently been told I wouldn't know POV if it came up and bit me in the bum. That my work was so riddled with POV shifts it was unreadable....

Never had that said before by anyone.... got me very worried about my whole approach and style of writing. Doing nothing different than I have done before. So this has led me to the conclusion that I have had this problem from the get go... but if I have why has my work gotten off the slush pile.... If the structure was so bad as to make it unreadable, then editors, rightly should have binned it....

I am confused, concerned and worried about the whole format and style of my writing. Does this mean I have to strip it down to the bare bones and rebuild it? Because, that I doubt I can do... Not only from the machanics side of it, but the emotional as well. It would mean every word I have written in seven years is crap.
No, you've just been writing brilliantly without having any clue what you're doing. :) And unfortunately, the folk who have been commenting on your pov shifts probably don't have any idea either.

POV, and shifts in pov, can be used in any number of ways. To qualify these different methods, we use viewpoint formats. So to assess whether you have a pov problem of any sort, first figure out what viewpoint format you are using.

First person format -- one pov character, nobody else's inner thoughts or emotions (probably not what you are using.)

Second person format -- similar to first person, except that instead of "I," the "you" pronoun is used (very seldom what anyone is using, but for a great example of it, read Stewart O'Nan's "A Prayer for the Dying.")

Third person limited or tight format -- uses third person pronouns, can have one pov character or multiple pov characters, but only uses one pov character at a time, changing pov from one character to another character only at a chapter or scene (blank lines) break. There is no omniscient narration outside of a character's pov.

Third person ominscient -- the big daddy: uses third person pronouns and is characterized by two features:

1. Omniscient narration -- information, description and analysis outside of any character's pov.

2. The use of multiple character pov's within a scene or section of text, i.e. pov shifts.

A writer using third person omniscient does not have to use both of the main features of the viewpoint format or use them all the time, but if the writer uses one of the features, the format is considered to be third person omniscient. All those stories you may have seen with weird structures -- made out of emails, rhyming couplets, computer logs, no character pov's whatsoever, etc. -- are third person omniscient as well. (I'm guessing omniscient is the format that you are writing in.)

Unfortunately, many people have been taught that the third person omniscient format is wrong and evil, and that you should only write third person in the third person limited format. This is because some new writers don't handle pov shifts and omniscient narration very well, so some authorities got the bright idea to tell all new writers that they should not use third person omniscient at all and that publishers hate it. The confusion also occurs because many people have a very unclear understanding of what omniscient narration is.

In actuality, a large percentage of published fiction is written in third person omniscient, including such big names as J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, John Grisham, Tom Clancy and Michael Creichton. I just read "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg, based on Asimov's classic story, and it was in third person omniscient format.

So, your friends who told you your pov shifts are confusing may either be A) reacting on the belief that you should only do pov shifts according to the third person limited format; or B) in that particular work, you have a mild problem with some pov shifts that are a little confusing. In either case, it's hardly likely that you will have to strip down and revamp the work dramatically.

There are also mixed formats, stories that mix sections in first person and third person formats, or use different characters to offer first person narration (revolving first,) and so on, so really, there's nothing you can come up with for a format or structure that hasn't already been done before and that isn't perfectly fine with publishers.

And if you're wondering how I can rattle off such a long and detailed post on the subject (besides my natural verbosity,) it's because I've been having this conversation for fifteen years. But I'm happy to have it again if it will help you to stop worrying, Hol. :)

tingmakpuk
April 25th, 2004, 04:40 PM
Grisham does the same thing from time to time, even in his most recent work -- Runaway Jury in particular.

I tend to be someone that is REALLY bothered by POV shifts. I'll stop reading midway through a book if it's noticable.

I couldn't help but notice Grisham's shifts, but I have to admit that the wording he used to transition to another POV was the least annoying I've seen yet. I could actually finish the novel without too much discomfort.

If you like/need omniscience, study Grisham.

On the other hand, a simple section break is all that is needed to step into another POV. You retain the 3rd limited, but you see the story from another angle. That's perfectly acceptable to even the most picky of readers (me).

I've even read some great stories that toy with this idea. One was written in an almost play-like format, virtually each paragraph from a new POV. It took some acclimation, but it was perfect for the plot. Another (many, no doubt) wrote the same scene four times from four different POVs, slowly revealing the whole story.

But for someone like me, the most pleasurable read is a 3rd limited that never shifts even at section breaks. Talk about characterization and suspension of disbelief... that allows you to truly experience the story with a character. First person is nearly as good in that it doesn't allow for shifts, but "I" am not in the story, so "I" don't want to read like I am. I want to be with "him" or "her" as he/she experiences the story.

Just my two cents.

Holbrook
April 25th, 2004, 05:01 PM
KatG. I thank you! I have copied and printed that!

Using your text I think for the most part I use;

Third person ominscient -- the big daddy: uses third person pronouns and is characterized by two features:

1. Omniscient narration -- information, description and analysis outside of any character's pov.

I do try to keep each section or scene "limited" so to speak to one charcter but omnisient narration. i.e. telling the things going on around them.

Ok I admit in the comments I have received, a couple of bits the reviewer mentioned are confusing... but the rest had me gobsmacked as it is the style I have always used... and the matter of POV has never come up before...

I found myself wondering what this reviewer would make of the "monster" which has small sections at the beginning of each "act" some 5 to 7 acts per chapter. These sections are in first person, as the story has a narrator, to draw the story together as it is on the "grand scale".

More of an "Bard's tale" than anything else. These section range from a couple of paragraphs to a couple of pages, depending on how much the narrator has to say at a given point. I have used the "narrator" to tell the reader bits about the country, the races, the history, the religion etc.... In fact it is really me in a way commenting on the story I have written.

To be honest the style and POV I write in for my main work, has developed slowly over the years a type of story telling and I just felt that somehow I had got it all wrong....

tingmakpuk
April 25th, 2004, 07:29 PM
These section range from a couple of paragraphs to a couple of pages, depending on how much the narrator has to say at a given point. I have used the "narrator" to tell the reader bits about the country, the races, the history, the religion etc.... In fact it is really me in a way commenting on the story I have written.

Would you be willing to post a sample that shows a bit of your first person and your narration?

As a general rule, even your picky readers won't mind a jump to narration so long as the narration implies that your first person knows the information, and could very well be mulling it over in his/her mind.

Narrating something that your first person can't or shouldn't know steps on suspension of disbelief.

milamber_reborn
April 25th, 2004, 11:14 PM
Third Person Omniscient is an accepted style, but it must be used with care so that the reader isn't jerked when the writer suddenly provides insights about a different character.

I use the standard Third Person Limited, where I stick entirely to one character per scene.