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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just finishing my first draft of OFF THE GRID (just a few chapters from the finish line) when I started thinking about changing POV. OTG is written in third person, but I'm wondering if I might change the main character's POV to first person, leaving all the other talking heads in third person. It feels like I'm changing direction mid stream, but I may still risk it. Anyone out there end up doing this without too too much pain? How did it work for you?
 

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My current WIP has alternating chapters with shifting POV -- one is third-person omniscient and the other is first-person by one of the characters. I have always been partial to books written with shifting POVs because I think it takes a lot of talent to see the same thing from different perspectives. How mine will work out remains to be seen.

I'm reading a novel right now by Jude Morgan that changes POV a lot. At first I thought it was a bit much but now that I'm 500 pages in to it I see how exceedingly clever this technique is. You are never exactly sure what is going on but when it all starts to come together you can't help but be amazed at how well-crafted the book is.

James Lee Burke does this a lot. But if you want to see the ultimate try reading The Alexandria Quartet -- sheer genius.
 

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Careful. Let's not confuse POV with Modality. 3rd person, 2st person, omniscient, limited, 2nd person, are all modes. POV is set inside the mode and doesn't shift within the chapter unless the mode is 3rd person omniscient (or 2nd person). I have a series that begins with a 1st person narrator at the cap and nape of each chapter - the chapter itself in 3rd person limited. The POV in those cases are nailed to one character and cannot shift. If I do shift, I start a new subchapter (I use numbers instead of the obligatory *** ). I keep the 1st person modality in italics (something I learned from Stephen King). There is a vast scope within modality and POV rules, which accord the reader Anchorage and the author creative scope. However, violate these rules (there are a few violations that are acceptable and a craft to accommodate them) and you cease to be coherent and you'll walk along your story path alone sans reader.

Edward C. Patterson
 

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In my almost-ready BADWATER, the majority of the chapters are from the first-person protagonist POV.  There are several third-person bad guy POV chapters interspersed.

I think the bottom line is, if the switch doesn't confuse/annoy readers, and adds to the story, then it works.

I'd recommend James Lee Burke's novels for examples of skillful POV-switching.

Whoops--just saw that Kathleen already recommended Burke.  And I agree wholeheartedly with the Alexandria Quartet, just brilliant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
After reviewing this great comments, I think I will shy away from the change. It appears this shift in POV/Modality effort must be crafted right from the beginning. At this point, it seems that changing what I have written is like trying to change the design of a house after the foundation and framing have been set in place. Thanks for your comments.
 

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I think I would find it confusing if I was reading a book that shifted from first person to third person. I expect one or the other in the books I read, and generally avoid first person as I just don't get along with it.

I tend to write close third person, so well inside the characters head, and stick to just the hero and heroine in most cases (yeah, I write romance) as they're the two I'm most concerned about in the story. I rarely venture into the antagonists head. I do sometimes venture into a third person's head if they're integral to the story, like a sub-hero.

Felicity Heaton
 

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Well, since I mentioned it, here are two times POV (in 3rd person limited mode) can be violated, and they both are are the bookends of a chapter.

1 - At the beginning of the chapter, an author can slip in with an ambiguous POV - that is for a brief time (and I mean brief), while the reader is settling into the chapter (which might even settle in 2nd person for a paragraph, especially if its descriptive), an author can fudge POV and then - Wham! - nail it.

2 - The afterglow of a chapter, when a the POV character has left the premises but the story hasn't, you can get away with a brief slip into a remaining characters POV (and not a thought or stereoptic, but a casual and clever reference). For example, in my book The Jade Owl, the POV character leaves a restaurant, but is then observed by the waiter from the restaurant's window to close the chapter. (The waiter is a villain). Care still must be observed. I use the phrase, "if Rowden had stayed he would have seen Sam Chang watching him from the second story . . .etc. etc."

There are other instances. But under no circumstance should a reader be aware of these things. POV is a device best hidden. It only raises its ugly head when violated or ignored.

Edward C. Patterson
 
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