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(7 Posts)
CantFeelMyFace Wed 23-Mar-16 12:09:59

Advice please? I am writing in alternating POV. The main account is in 1st person but some chapters are told in 3rd person limited because there are events that are unknown to the protagonist that the reader needs to know about.

My dilemma is that in one particular chapter, the change of POV needs to happen midway through the chapter. It is the same scene. How do I do this? 2 line break? Dotted line to separate? Not do it all? Worried it will jarr a bit. Wonder if any of you experienced folk could help please smile


MissBattleaxe Wed 23-Mar-16 13:12:34

That's tricky. I'd be tempted to split it into two chapters. You could still use the same scene, told twice, if you do it right.

MrsHathaway Wed 23-Mar-16 15:24:55

Sometimes this is achieved using different fonts or styles.


I staggered to bed that evening, still shaking with the thrill of the chase, even though I myself had been the quarry.

As the moon drifted across the night sky, David watched Clare. If she thought he had lost track of her, she was mistaken. He blew on his hands to keep out the cold, and pulled his jacket up round his neck.

There was a clatter in the back garden. I was determined to move house once this was all over - somewhere without metal bins the neighbourhood cats and foxes would tip with impunity.

kungfupannda Wed 23-Mar-16 16:19:39

I would try to avoid doing this sort of thing if at all possible. Third person limited should still be closely tied to the viewpoint of the main character, i.e. the reader doesn't get access to information not available to that character. It gives slightly more freedom than first person, but that's mainly in terms of how you express the thoughts and feelings of the character, rather than in terms of what information is revealed.

If you reveal information that the viewpoint character doesn't know, you're effectively moving towards an omniscient narrator. If that's what you want for the overall project then that's fine - although I think it is generally considered to be quite out of fashion- but it would probably be wise to avoid doing it simply to solve problems like needing the reader to understand something that the character doesn't. If it's only used here and there then it's probably going to look like authorial intrusion, rather than something intrinsic to the character/plot.

Multi-viewpoint narratives can work quite well, i.e. different characters telling different parts of the story, but I'd be quite wary of a narrative that switches between first and third person for the same viewpoint character, unless there's some compelling stylistic reason for it. I'd certainly avoid doing it mid-chapter.

You can move within third person to some extent, i.e. some parts very close third person and others slightly more of a bird's eye view, but it should probably be done sparingly. I went to a lecture where it was suggested that you can get away with starting a chapter with a more distant viewpoint and then zooming into the main character, but once you're 'in' you should stay in for the rest of the chapter, and not try and pull out for a more omniscient overview.

CantFeelMyFace Wed 23-Mar-16 16:39:26

Thanks everyone-this is very useful.

Mrs Hathaway-that could actually work and I've seen it done-not sure why it didn't occur to me!

KungFuPanda-thanks. Just to clarify, most of the chapters are 1st person from the protagonist's POV. A few are 3rd person limited from other characters' POV(one at a time). The change in POV to 3rd person limited in this chapter would be with a different character than the protagonist. So, I don't start off in 1st person with the protagonist and then suddenly switch to 3rd person limited with that same character. It is the POV of a different character in that scene told in 3rd person limited. I agree-that doing it with the same character would be extremely weird! Is this what you meant or would you still have concerns?

kungfupannda Wed 23-Mar-16 16:46:37

Okay, that's quite a different scenario. I'd still be inclined to be cautious about it as if it's only being done to supply information unknown to the main character, it might come across as a bit of a device. You'd have to devote enough time to the other viewpoint characters for them to be fully-developed and convincing voices, rather than just supporting cast.

I would still avoid doing it mid-chapter/mid-scene. The general wisdom is to avoid anything that looks like head-hopping, and in this scenario you'd potentially be head-hopping and changing from 1st to 3rd.

CantFeelMyFace Wed 23-Mar-16 18:06:58

Thanks again, this is a prominent character and I have used his POV before so we have been in his head already. I'm hoping it works. Without the italics, I think it would be blatant head hopping. With the italics at the end of the chapter, it may signal to the reader that I'm changing POV almost like a little epilogue to that chapter. I might look at after a while as sometimes when you're too submerged in it you can't tell if you're pulling it off or not. If it reads funny, I'll scrap it! smile

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