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Thread: Viewpoint!

  1. #1
    Rocketsheep
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    Viewpoint!

    Banging head on wall. Can hardly speak. New fantasy hit shelves today. Run of mill. Head hops twice in first 100 words!

    IS THIS ACCEPTABLE?

  2. #2
    Witch of the Woods Miriamele's Avatar
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    Twice in 100 words seems like a lot. It can certainly get annoying trying to figure out whose POV you're reading when it keeps switching.

    I prefer it when the author "head hops" only from one chapter to another, or at least from one clearly differentiated section of a chapter to another.

    I guess it's a matter of style, but still, good writers shouldn't confuse their readers.

  3. #3
    Ancient Member Bardos's Avatar
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    Post

    Everything is acceptable, lest you do it without style.

  4. #4
    Lord Deceiver estranghero's Avatar
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    I agree with Miri, it's very jarring.

    You're basically going with the flow using only one POV when 100 words later, BA-B00M you change POV.

    Granted, the writer may have style in writing but something like this would certainly detract from the reading of the story. (Unless you're Hemingway or Dickens or Eco... )

  5. #5
    Ancient Member Bardos's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    ES/H, it's not "da-boom" when a writer who knows what he's doing swifts the pov. There's usually some in-between sentance in there, like "He turned his head to look out of the window"; "She crossed her arms and lowered her head, deep in thought". Or, there is a no-pov paragraph in-between and, then, follows a clear sentence of who is thinking what, before you switch. Or, you can use "s/he thought" in direct thoughts, so there is no confusion.

    It can be done well, but you must KNOW what you're doing, and not do it randomly.

    Personaly, Eco does confuse me sometimes.

  6. #6
    Rocketsheep
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    I don't want to infringe copyright or to mention the author... good luck to him, I say... I just wonder what the editors were thinking.

    This is how it goes:

    The story begins with a man looking out from a high place... the imagery is nice but fairly fantasy standard... it seems he has special sensory powers and we visit these with him then he engages in a discusion with a woman who asks something with her eyes widening.

    (Fine, since we are clearly with the man experiencing his senses and we can see her face)

    Then there are five lines of dialogue where she suggests taking action and he talks her out of it, THEN the next line she is shaking her head and not voicing an objection that is rising in her throat since she never trusted him.

    They have another short discussion, she has another thought about letting it drop since she knows he is in some kind of pain then she leaves and we are back into his mind.

    I dunno. I think the plot must be mindblowing further along or something... there must be a reason editors would overlook such a short POV switch and I can't see that the imagery or language is particularly swish.

  7. #7
    Ancient Member Bardos's Avatar
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    I don't know the book, but seems alright to me, since there is the dialogue part in between to cut the pov (I assume there is no man's pov in the dialogue...), and then the woman gets out of the scene so only he is left to "tell the story". That's the way Frank Herbert writes, also, and he's one of my favourite writers. These guys use omniscient pov; it's ok as long as the reader is not confused about who is thinking what. The "mistake" is made when you say "Huh?"

  8. #8
    Lord Deceiver estranghero's Avatar
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    Bardos:

    Oh yes, now I remember the term, 'omniscient POV'.

    I presume you're referring to this when you say that if done well, different POVs can work. And I agree with that. However, I've heard that omniscient POV-writing is almost as hard as writing 1st-person POV such that writers are advised to lay off from these unless they're VERRRRYYY good at it. Of course that doesn't stop some writers who bite off more than they can chew...

    RS:

    Yes, I can see what you mean about confusing. The fact that the man can 'see' the woman's face using his sensory powers is not clear on how the communication between the two of them is enabled, i.e. does he have telepathy or his senses are 'there' beside her.

    This is because if the man's senses are 'there' beside her, then he won't be able to know the subvocalized thoughts of the woman. However if he is reading her mind and not just actually listening to what the woman is saying, then he would know that she: a) had a thought that she didn't say, and b) knew that he was in pain. Of course the question of 'seeing' the woman's face crops up again because nobody really sees one's own face, if you know what I mean.


    Like I said, Bardos, it's hard to get the omniscient POV down (see RS's example) and writers have to be really careful doing this. The problem in RS's example is that the POVs are not well-differentiated (though I'm just basing it on RS's post and not the actual passages). I think that your example (no POV paragraph tie-in or there is an in-between sentence) could work on this matter in defining the POVs between the man and the woman though.

    And yes, Eco's is a struggle to get through. But definitely worth it.

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