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Thread: Character Point of View

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    Default Character Point of View

    Here we discuss proceedures for both beginner and advanced ways of using character POV's.


    This is what some of us still honing our writing skills a challenge.
    What are the challenges in writing a story using all kinds of Points of View. From first to 2nd to third and third's sub branches

    a. the most basic would be placing a POV in the middle of the story to avoid making your readers confused on who's talking/who's thoughts are presented on a chapter. Especially with multiple protagonists
    b. For some readers, POV's are absent in their stories, making it more of a challenge.
    Last edited by jireh the provider; 31st October 2012 at 2:15 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jireh the provider View Post
    In every story, there has to be a main character and a villain.
    Well, that's not true.

    For a beginner in writing stories, most amateurs will write the specific character's POV if there are 2 or more important characters. It doesn't needed to type it if there's only one lead characters.
    I...have no idea what this says. It's in English, but I don't understand the words. "...write the specific character's POV...."? "It doesn't need to type it..."? I don't know what you're saying (and, yes...I know what Point Of View is, but nothing else there makes sense).

    For targeting experienced readers and avid writers, most novels will have to leave the posting of POVs, especially with more lead characters.
    Again...what? "...most novels will have to leave the posting of POVs..."? What? What does that even mean?

    Seriously...am I alone in having friggin' clue what jireh just said?
    Last edited by Sid87; 30th October 2012 at 12:22 PM.


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    Like Sid87 said, not all novels/shorts/fics have a main and a villain. Heck the main could be the villain. And... The wording is completely off. I have no idea what the other sentences said.
    Also, in the first sentence, protagonist/antagonist is much better to write than main/villain. As protag/antag are more global than main/villain, and so it makes it easier to understand what you're saying. Yes I know this isn't a fic, but still... Being here brings it up.

    Anyway, nearly all of my stories/fics are written in third person, with maybe one chapter re-written in first person of the Protag/other main character.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87 View Post
    Well, that's not true.



    I...have no idea what this says. It's in English, but I don't understand the words. "...write the specific character's POV...."? "It doesn't need to type it..."? I don't know what you're saying (and, yes...I know what Point Of View is, but nothing else there makes sense).



    Again...what? "...most novels will have to leave the posting of POVs..."? What? What does that even mean?

    Seriously...am I alone in having friggin' clue what jireh just said?
    What I meant to ask would be a discussion as to how we use the different kinds of POVs. What are the POV's best suited for dedicated readers? Jump and go readers? Experienced writers?

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    Well in the story that i've been writing and am gonna shoot myself in the foot over, if i don't finish and post the first bloody chapter soon I write from the different characters' POVs, not just main characters & villain all the time though, i may also write from random character's POV or the "villan-for-the-moment's" POV. I just use the POV that i feel will get the reader to react a certain way, or feel a certain thing, in order to get the point of the chapter/chapter section across.


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    Might want to edit the 1st post then so people can easily follow what you get. I am also lost by it.

    I don't know if there is a set 'best' pov for dedicated (?) readers and whatnot. I suppose 2nd is not going to be such a thing though just because it's a) rarely seen and b) generally regarded to be harder to write. That said if you can do it you can certainly pull off a great story with it.

    There is no best pov for experienced writers in general; some people are better at different types so it's really up to the individual, the story, and so forth. So I suppose it depends on your strengths in writing, or what would best suit the story. Emotive language? Might be better with 1st POV than 3rd as you're writing as a character in their shoes so to speak, not an external narrator separated in some way from the story itself. If the story is about a death then how you want to portray it will be impacted by the POV you choose to employ.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jireh the provider View Post
    What I meant to ask would be a discussion as to how we use the different kinds of POVs. What are the POV's best suited for dedicated readers? Jump and go readers? Experienced writers?
    As a beginning (well, let's just say amateur because it's true) writer, just pick with a point-of-view you're most comfortable with for a story and just go with it. Do not break it into different POVs throughout the story as an amateur. Wait until you have more experience in telling a story, such as plot and character development, before you do something like this. Some writers can pull this off, but they have ways of doing it without interrupting a chapter to switch POVs. I know of one published book that did this, called "Song in the Silence". It's an interesting book, and for the first half, it was mostly through the POV of the main female lead. However, when we got to the "Book Two" part of the story, it started switching off into different POVs of different characters. I can see why she did this, since there was conflict going on between humans and dragons that one or the other couldn't exactly get directly involved with, but it was rather distracting at times.

    But I don't really know her reasons for why she did it that way, and neither do I know your reason. So for right now, just stick with either first-person, or third-person limited or third-person omnipresent until you are absolutely sure you need to put different POVs in the story. In which case, devote separate chapters to them. It'll be a "long" story (depending on your word count), but it's not as distracting as interrupting the flow of a story to tell us it's "so-and-so" speaking their thoughts after reading the words/thoughts of another character.
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    I don't think any POVs are "amateur" or "advanced". Different POVs come easier to some people than others, and even an "easy" POV is often simply the right one for the story. Unreliable narrators generally need first person, for instance, and if you have a lot of principal characters all of whose thought processes are relevant, you generally need third person omniscient. The experience or dedication of either the reader or author shouldn't really have much to do with it.

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    The main thing that should influence what POV you choose to use should be what best fits the story. Really, anything in a story should be there because it best fits that situation's needs. What that means is don't choose an "unusual" point of view just to be unusual, don't use multiple point of views just because you can, and so on. If that particular POV best tells the story, or you need to have multiple to get across so many perspectives, then by all means. Don't do things just for the sake of it.

    It will also benefit you in general to find out what POV you're best at writing, and find the best ways to use that POV while also working to develop your skills using other ones. :>

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    Yup that sums it all up fairly well. And I don't like the term hero/villian when discussing stories. Protagionist and Antagionist are my prefered terms (especially my current pet project)

    In terms for POV its true. Like for my SxS series I use something between a third person limited and an omniscent especially for the complex story the SxS series is. For my collab of Shelly Holmes I go classic 1st person.

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    As others said, there is no real superior or inferior point of view; it's all in what you are trying to accomplish in your narrative.

    That said, I will point out that I, personally, generally hate third-person omniscient in a purely written medium (I do actually enjoy it and prefer it in a visual medium like comics or movies). I think that third-person omniscient tends to be the laziest of the narrations, and it removes the reader the most from the story by taking away the "experience" aspect and making it seem exactly like what it is: a bunch of words blatantly explaining everything for the sake of a reader. It's been an exceptionally long time since I read something that was third person omniscient that I enjoyed. I think omniscient works best when it is actually third-person limited, but hops from character-to-character by scene or chapter. When I read a story where the narration shifts multiple times within a scene or chapter... it's really one of my biggest pet peeves as a writer.


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    *headtilt* I'd hate to ask, but was this by any chance brought on by a comment I made in another thread? Because my issue there wasn't that you were using multiple points of view. It was that you were using multiple points of view per chapter and prefacing each one with "[Character] POV" smack in the middle of your narration. There's nothing wrong with using multiple points of view in a story if it's clear that it has to be told that way. It's just that if you switch POVs right in the middle of a chapter for no other reason besides because you can't figure out how to tell a story or portray a character otherwise (as opposed to the fact that the POV choice itself adds something significant to the plot), it's going to show through. That and prefacing your scenes with "[Character] POV" is jarring for the same reason that putting an author's note (or "Flashback") smack in the middle of your work is jarring.

    The whole point is to have as few divisions between the reader and the narration as possible and as few statements of the obvious as possible. Sure, you have scene breaks, but if you insert a scene title smack in the middle of your story before the scene begins, you're creating an abrupt transition whereas just having a scene break with no scene title will allow one scene to flow into another. Moreover, typically speaking, your readers should be able to figure out who's telling the story of the scene through the narration itself. There are cases when it's vague (and still pulled off decently), but for the most part, few writers do that and do it well. Titling your scenes is therefore unnecessary because it tends to beat the reader over the head with information they would've already been able to pick up. That's why scene titles -- namely "[Character]'s POV" and "Flashback" -- tend to be looked at with a sideways glance.

    That being said, there's not much I can say about the benefit of one POV or another or even the benefit of sticking to one or using multiple. The best POV for a story varies from case to case, and yes, sometimes, you do need to tell a story through multiple POVs. It's just that you have to be delicate about doing it. You have to have a reason for choosing the POV you want to use, and you have to make the transition from one to the other as smooth as possible so that all of the pieces of the story feel like they're coming together as a coherent whole.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jireh the provider View Post
    In every story, there has to be a main character and a villain.
    Speaking as a writer who has a few main characters that are morally-bankrupt anti-heroes at best and full-blown villains with only a few redeeming qualities at worst, this statement is completely and utterly wrong. Protagonists and antagonists are the words you're looking for, and they are not defined by heroes and villains. Villain protagonists and hero antagonists do exist, you know.
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadow_zoroark View Post
    Well in the story that i've been writing and am gonna shoot myself in the foot over, if i don't finish and post the first bloody chapter soon I write from the different characters' POVs, not just main characters & villain all the time though, i may also write from random character's POV or the "villan-for-the-moment's" POV. I just use the POV that i feel will get the reader to react a certain way, or feel a certain thing, in order to get the point of the chapter/chapter section across.
    Quote Originally Posted by bobandbill View Post
    Might want to edit the 1st post then so people can easily follow what you get. I am also lost by it.

    I don't know if there is a set 'best' pov for dedicated (?) readers and whatnot. I suppose 2nd is not going to be such a thing though just because it's a) rarely seen and b) generally regarded to be harder to write. That said if you can do it you can certainly pull off a great story with it.

    There is no best pov for experienced writers in general; some people are better at different types so it's really up to the individual, the story, and so forth. So I suppose it depends on your strengths in writing, or what would best suit the story. Emotive language? Might be better with 1st POV than 3rd as you're writing as a character in their shoes so to speak, not an external narrator separated in some way from the story itself. If the story is about a death then how you want to portray it will be impacted by the POV you choose to employ.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kutie Pie View Post
    As a beginning (well, let's just say amateur because it's true) writer, just pick with a point-of-view you're most comfortable with for a story and just go with it. Do not break it into different POVs throughout the story as an amateur. Wait until you have more experience in telling a story, such as plot and character development, before you do something like this. Some writers can pull this off, but they have ways of doing it without interrupting a chapter to switch POVs. I know of one published book that did this, called "Song in the Silence". It's an interesting book, and for the first half, it was mostly through the POV of the main female lead. However, when we got to the "Book Two" part of the story, it started switching off into different POVs of different characters. I can see why she did this, since there was conflict going on between humans and dragons that one or the other couldn't exactly get directly involved with, but it was rather distracting at times.

    But I don't really know her reasons for why she did it that way, and neither do I know your reason. So for right now, just stick with either first-person, or third-person limited or third-person omnipresent until you are absolutely sure you need to put different POVs in the story. In which case, devote separate chapters to them. It'll be a "long" story (depending on your word count), but it's not as distracting as interrupting the flow of a story to tell us it's "so-and-so" speaking their thoughts after reading the words/thoughts of another character.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonfree View Post
    I don't think any POVs are "amateur" or "advanced". Different POVs come easier to some people than others, and even an "easy" POV is often simply the right one for the story. Unreliable narrators generally need first person, for instance, and if you have a lot of principal characters all of whose thought processes are relevant, you generally need third person omniscient. The experience or dedication of either the reader or author shouldn't really have much to do with it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Psychic View Post
    The main thing that should influence what POV you choose to use should be what best fits the story. Really, anything in a story should be there because it best fits that situation's needs. What that means is don't choose an "unusual" point of view just to be unusual, don't use multiple point of views just because you can, and so on. If that particular POV best tells the story, or you need to have multiple to get across so many perspectives, then by all means. Don't do things just for the sake of it.

    It will also benefit you in general to find out what POV you're best at writing, and find the best ways to use that POV while also working to develop your skills using other ones. :>

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    Quote Originally Posted by lovetheangelshadow View Post
    Yup that sums it all up fairly well. And I don't like the term hero/villian when discussing stories. Protagionist and Antagionist are my prefered terms (especially my current pet project)

    In terms for POV its true. Like for my SxS series I use something between a third person limited and an omniscent especially for the complex story the SxS series is. For my collab of Shelly Holmes I go classic 1st person.

    On a side note yes yer first post was woried really strange even for me.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sid87 View Post
    As others said, there is no real superior or inferior point of view; it's all in what you are trying to accomplish in your narrative.

    That said, I will point out that I, personally, generally hate third-person omniscient in a purely written medium (I do actually enjoy it and prefer it in a visual medium like comics or movies). I think that third-person omniscient tends to be the laziest of the narrations, and it removes the reader the most from the story by taking away the "experience" aspect and making it seem exactly like what it is: a bunch of words blatantly explaining everything for the sake of a reader. It's been an exceptionally long time since I read something that was third person omniscient that I enjoyed. I think omniscient works best when it is actually third-person limited, but hops from character-to-character by scene or chapter. When I read a story where the narration shifts multiple times within a scene or chapter... it's really one of my biggest pet peeves as a writer.
    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    *headtilt* I'd hate to ask, but was this by any chance brought on by a comment I made in another thread? Because my issue there wasn't that you were using multiple points of view. It was that you were using multiple points of view per chapter and prefacing each one with "[Character] POV" smack in the middle of your narration. There's nothing wrong with using multiple points of view in a story if it's clear that it has to be told that way. It's just that if you switch POVs right in the middle of a chapter for no other reason besides because you can't figure out how to tell a story or portray a character otherwise (as opposed to the fact that the POV choice itself adds something significant to the plot), it's going to show through. That and prefacing your scenes with "[Character] POV" is jarring for the same reason that putting an author's note (or "Flashback") smack in the middle of your work is jarring.

    The whole point is to have as few divisions between the reader and the narration as possible and as few statements of the obvious as possible. Sure, you have scene breaks, but if you insert a scene title smack in the middle of your story before the scene begins, you're creating an abrupt transition whereas just having a scene break with no scene title will allow one scene to flow into another. Moreover, typically speaking, your readers should be able to figure out who's telling the story of the scene through the narration itself. There are cases when it's vague (and still pulled off decently), but for the most part, few writers do that and do it well. Titling your scenes is therefore unnecessary because it tends to beat the reader over the head with information they would've already been able to pick up. That's why scene titles -- namely "[Character]'s POV" and "Flashback" -- tend to be looked at with a sideways glance.

    That being said, there's not much I can say about the benefit of one POV or another or even the benefit of sticking to one or using multiple. The best POV for a story varies from case to case, and yes, sometimes, you do need to tell a story through multiple POVs. It's just that you have to be delicate about doing it. You have to have a reason for choosing the POV you want to use, and you have to make the transition from one to the other as smooth as possible so that all of the pieces of the story feel like they're coming together as a coherent whole.
    Quote Originally Posted by SilentMemento View Post
    Speaking as a writer who has a few main characters that are morally-bankrupt anti-heroes at best and full-blown villains with only a few redeeming qualities at worst, this statement is completely and utterly wrong. Protagonists and antagonists are the words you're looking for, and they are not defined by heroes and villains. Villain protagonists and hero antagonists do exist, you know.
    Personally, I am understanding them nicely. Recently, I'm getting used to remove the "smack character's POV's" in my trial and error stories. This is why my focus story (at my sig) is undergoing serious editing since I can see that it can be JARRING to most. More to that, I'm adding up the content of my previous chapters of all of my stories

    It seems it all really depends on the reader as to how they interpret the characters you showed to them right without the need of posting the "_____'s POV in the middle of the chapter. I learned now. No worries.

    My best writing style would be First Person POV since most of my chapters focused at the mother. Though at times I switch the focus to another character.

    But what are the subtle difference in writing between limited (not much talked yet here) and ominiscent (explained fairly) 3rd person?

    Of course we all know that 1st person involves the reader and the writer walking at the character's shoes (what they feel, how they respond, who they love or envy, etc.). Third person is generally the author speaking for the readers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jireh the provider View Post
    But what are the subtle difference in writing between limited (not much talked yet here) and ominiscent (explained fairly) 3rd person?
    Good question.

    Imagine both points of view like being a road that forks in two different directions. Now, keeping that image in mind, both limited and omniscient treat the narrator as a separate being from any particular character in the narration. That's where the two diverge from each other. Omniscient is the point of view where the narrator isn't necessarily bound to one particular character; they know everything every single character knows. They therefore describe the thoughts and feelings of every character that comes along, not just a particular one.

    Limited, meanwhile, is still a point of view in which the narrator is essentially omniscient, but the difference is that they focus on only a particular character. As in, we don't really see anything going on anywhere else in the story, and we only get the thoughts and feelings of a particular character. So third limited is like a hybrid of first and third omniscient in that you have a narrator separated from the rest of the cast (telling the story as if they're an outsider), but you get a lot of focus on a particular cast member. The advantage to this is just with how fine-tuned the focus is. Unlike omniscient, you're working with a very specific canvas, so to speak. You're not attempting to develop the mental landscapes of multiple characters, and you give yourself a lot of opportunities to add a lot of detail to one subject's characterization. Meanwhile, unlike first person, you're not necessarily limited to the tunnel vision brought on by the character's personality and perception skills. You can describe everything that goes on around them, and the story isn't going to be clouded by the character's opinions or personality quirks (unless your third-person narrator is unreliable... which can happen). So, in a way, it's a best-of-both-worlds POV.

    But like other POVs, it's got its time and its place. I have to reiterate again that there's really no perfect POV for every situation. Sometimes, third person omniscient is a better POV to use than limited or first person. Sometimes, you need to show a reader what happens all over your fictional world, and other POVs don't allow you to do that unless you're willing to bounce from character to character (if you're doing first or second person POV) in order to get everything. Omniscient is really best for stories for particularly large scopes because, well, first, second, and third limited deal with smaller scopes due to their own individual limitations. Meanwhile, maybe you want to capture a character's mindset, so first person might be ideal, especially if the entire point of the story is to get their spin on things. Third is a good option if you want to separate a reader from the character in order to let them draw their own conclusions about a situation. (This works well if you're planning on using twist endings. Sure, unreliable narrator is fun, but so is ****ing with a reader by giving them a narrator who's usually seen as objective by default.) Second tends to be unconventional, but it works well for either stories where the focus is meant to be ambiguous or stories that are just meant to be flat-out crack. (YMMV about anything on MS Paint Adventures, but at least it offers an example of the crack variety of second person.)

    Buuuut that's just repeating what's already been said because I feel like it's necessary to say a person shouldn't be dissuaded from using any particular POV... if they know what type of story they're trying to tell in the first place.

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    Last edited by JX Valentine; 31st October 2012 at 4:02 AM.

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    Yeah, if you're going to do aggressive POV switching, devote a chapter to each different POV. Even if it's showing the same event from a different perspective. Like, have you read A Game of Thrones? If not, you really should. It's a good model for the use of multiple POV characters.

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