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Balancing multiple POV's - help!

(4 Posts)
willoughbywolf Sat 29-Oct-16 22:21:30

I've just started to go through the first draft of my novel in preparation for a complete rewrite revision.

It is written in deep third person. Although there is a single clear protagonist, in the first half of the novel some scenes are written from the POV (still in third person) of the largest supporting character, for the following reasons:

1. To increase dramatic effect in scenes where seeing the story from the protagonist's POV would lessen the tension.

2. To allow the reader to be present in an important scene that does not involve the protagonist.

3. To give a greater understanding of the supporting character's motives.

However, because the POV shifts aren't something I've continued in the second half of the novel, their presence leaves me with a niggling feeling that I'm committing some sort of literary style crime by including them. Is this considered bad writing? Or bad plotting, perhaps. Should I be retooling the synopsis so that more scenes in the second half are written from the secondary character's perspective to balance things out, or alternatively, finding a way to tell the story entirely from the protagonist's POV?

Just hoping for your thoughts! A wise writing guru would be much appreciated right now, as I don't have one IRL grin

Plenty of great writers occasionally switch perspective to a supporting character for a very brief amount of time. Jane Austen does it, as does Terry Pratchett. Doesn't seem to have held them back. smile

However if it's nagging at you, you may be onto something. Are these scenes definitely needed? What happens if you take them out? I'd try it and see. You can always revert to a previous draft if it doesn't work. But if you think there's something wrong, I'd listen to what your instinct's telling you.

(Published author, not famous or anything but making progress!)

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Mon 31-Oct-16 14:17:41

I think the question is, is the niggling feeling because it reads badly, or because you're worrying about breaking a rule? I have noticed that because one of the things people learn early on in creative writing classes is the importance of viewpoint and avoiding 'head hopping', some people can treat viewpoint switches as if they're practically illegal, when actually the thing is just that they have consequences so you have to make sure that there aren't unintended consequences that are spoiling the book in other ways.
I think my biggest concern would be that if a viewpoint shift only happens very occasionally, it is really going to stand out, so you need to be sure the thing being described has sufficient weight and doesn't pull the story off balance iyswim - if it stands out, the reader is going to expect it to be really significant and meaningful, and if it isn't, it might make the book feel wrong.

user1477307675 Tue 01-Nov-16 15:28:39

I would echo what the others have said. Don't worry about breaking rules - as long as you understand why you are breaking it. From what you describe, the switch of POV in the first half but not the second half indicates some kind of inconsistency - either in your choice of POV, or else in the role of the secondary character. If that character is important enough to get their own POV scenes in part one, what has happened to them in the rest of the book that no longer makes it necessary?

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