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A Question of Perspective : Writers' Block Party • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

A Question of Perspective

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PurpleHaze
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A Question of Perspective

Postby PurpleHaze » Sat Mar 04, 2006 12:48 pm


PurpleHaze
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A Question of Perspective

Postby PurpleHaze » Sat Mar 04, 2006 12:48 pm

In writing my novel, I have come across a problem. In the last third of my book, I find it necessary to change perspective. While I have written it in the 3rd person, the vast majority of it is written from one character's perspective.

Is it an absolute literary no-no to change perspectives so late in the story?

I find it necessary to write from a singular perspective in the earlier part of the book because another character is such a mystery to the protaganist. But once the two characters get to know one another the mystery vanishes and there are specific reasons why I have to take the perspective of the secondary character.

Here is the excerpt I posted a while back if your curious as to the characters I am referring to:
https://www.writersdigest.com/mbbs/foru ... 19&posts=5

Any thoughts?

Mark

OmenSpirits.com
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RE: A Question of Perspective

Postby OmenSpirits.com » Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:14 pm

A good friend of mine wrote his novel, actually two friends of mine, wrote and used 3rd and first in the same novel, but the thing was they used it through out the novel, so's not to throw off the reader. you might want to sprinkle a 3rd person view in your novel just to keep the reader from getting confused.

IMO.

Prof Durden
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RE: A Question of Perspective

Postby Prof Durden » Sat Mar 04, 2006 4:11 pm

Is there ever really any "absolute no-nos" in writing at all? I say, go with it. If it works, then so be it.

yudelka
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RE: A Question of Perspective

Postby yudelka » Sat Mar 04, 2006 4:41 pm


Curious
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RE: A Question of Perspective

Postby Curious » Sat Mar 04, 2006 8:04 pm

There's a reason why changing perspective is a problem, and it's important to understand that reason before deciding to break this "rule." Readers don't normally read a novel in order to achieve an intellectual understanding of a plot. We read in order to live vicariously through the protagonist or protagonists. We become emotionally involved in the characters' lives, and perspective is the thing that attaches us to those characters.

Even when narration is in third person, the details of the scene give the reader a particular character's perspective. If the main character is happy, the narration will feel happy. Details that would detract from this feeling will be suppressed. If the character is scared, description will give the scene a spooky feel instead.

When perspective shifts, the reader experiences a small "slap." That jarring comes from having to detach emotionally from one character and become absorbed in another. An author has to weigh the merits of full disclosure against the danger of creating this "slap." Sometimes it makes sense and is worth the reader's loss of interest and involvement, but the author always has to understand that it's happening. It doesn't happen just once. It happens every single time perspective shifts, even if it shifts for only one paragraph.

A good example of excellent first-person narration occurs in the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Watson is the perfect person to stand in for the reader. He follows Holmes around, collecting evidence, but he rarely has a clue what's going on. Nevertheless, his good-hearted enthusiasm carries the reader along. When Holmes reveals all, Watson is impressed and satisfied, and so is the reader.

Watson's narration is the key to those stories' success. Imagine how upsetting it would be to the reader to pop up suddenly inside Holmes's head after most of the story has gone by. In fact, Conan Doyle experimented briefly with letting Holmes narrate a few stories from beginning to end. They were disasters. Holmes' calculating character did not foster reader involvement, and he knew too much too quickly.

First person narration gives readers a powerful emotional attachment to a character. Severing that tie after the bulk of the book has passed will certainly cause readers to feel annoyed and may cause them to feel betrayed. That's the reason most enjoyable novels don't do it. Yes, some high-brow novels do it well, and some literature professors praise how well they've done it, but these stories tend not to be the ones that the majority of readers curl up with when we want to lose ourselves in a good book.

Clare

abqwriter
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RE: A Question of Perspective

Postby abqwriter » Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:02 am

Larry McMurty's Lonesome Dove changes point of view several times, sometimes several times on one page.  He does it with an ease that makes the reader willing to follow along.  But he also has a sparse sense of emotion to all of his characters and spends most of his time showing their emotions through their actions.  I think this helps keep that change of mood to a minimal while still letting the reader know the thoughts of many characters at once.

It's not an easy road, though.  To pull it off well takes quite a bit of talent and work.


Jumbie
 

RE: A Question of Perspective

Postby Jumbie » Sun Mar 05, 2006 4:45 am

Dean Koonz's Life Expectancy is in the protagonist's POV from beginning through the second or third-to-last chapter. Then it changes to another person's POV. Then back again. He does it to throw us a red-herring. It's deliberate and meant to confuse.

Personnally, I think that after you reveal this other person, adding their POV would/might be welcome. Just be sure, as was mentioned before, that the story's flow won't be harmed by it.


Aspiring
 

RE: A Question of Perspective

Postby Aspiring » Sun Mar 05, 2006 7:22 am

One of my favorite books, The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood, presents four women's relationship with the same man, where each fourth of the book is from a different woman's perspective. When I got to the second fourth and realized that's what Atwood was doing, I loved it. It was fascinating. I think you need to make the shift to another perspective clear to the reader, and as some of the others suggested here, be sure there is enough emotional pull in the new perspective to carry the reader along. Good luck!


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