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01 July 2011 @ 01:52 am
Whose mind is it anyway? POV question...  
Okay, authors. How many POVs is too many in a single story? (Talking third-person limited here. I think.) I'm writing my first SPN Big Bang, the Gen one, and I'm in a quandary about Sam POV vs. Dean POV. I need them both. Is that so wrong of me? Am I being greedy? Does anyone else suffer this dilemma? Halp.
Current Mood: confusedconfused
Current Music: 'Torn Between Two Lovers'--Mary MacGregor
tangled skeins of cytokeratinemmram on July 1st, 2011 07:36 am (UTC)
I change PoVs all the time in a single story. I don't think there's a limit - in my opinion, the more points of view you explore, the richer the story's going to be. The length doesn't really matter.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on July 1st, 2011 03:17 pm (UTC)
Cool...what I wanted to hear! :D
monicawoemonicawoe on July 1st, 2011 10:48 am (UTC)
Emmram said it. The more POVs, the better. (the only time I tend to stick with a single POV is in little ficlets, but even in some of those I end up using two or three POVs)
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on July 1st, 2011 03:19 pm (UTC)
Interestingly, I've been reading these longer pieces (Big Bangs) that stay firmly planted in one character's head and I began to wonder about that. To be honest, I got a little bored with it, even though the pieces were incredibly well-written. So this is music to my ears! Er, eyes? Bah.
ratherastory: SPN Writing is Hard!ratherastory on July 1st, 2011 02:19 pm (UTC)
I have a lot of trouble writing multiple POVs and so generally tend to stick to one, but I am in stark admiration of the many authors who juggle multiple POVs with success.

Go for it. Multiple POVs usually enrich the story unless you need to deliberately keep readers in the dark.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on July 1st, 2011 03:16 pm (UTC)
Awesome! That's the sort of opinion I was pursuing. (Isn't it nice when you get what you want to hear?)
ratherastory: MST3K Evil & The Narratorratherastory on July 1st, 2011 03:25 pm (UTC)
The best example I can think of off the top of my head is roque_clasique's Drive 'verse. Unlike many authors she doesn't clearly label her POV switches, and her transitions are seamless. I highly recommend reading those if only for the technical aspect of her storytelling (although her prose is gorgeous, her characterizations spot-on, complex and compelling, and her stories are both plot- and character-driven, which makes for riveting reading too).

Um. Yes. Shameless fangirling of Roque aside, multiple POVs are often a good thing.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on July 1st, 2011 03:55 pm (UTC)
Oh, yay! A rec! I'm watching her but haven't read much, simply based on the embarrassing wealth of options here at LJ. Must do. Thanks!
salty_catfish on July 1st, 2011 03:03 pm (UTC)
Speaking as a reader: I can definitely manage more than two POVs.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on July 1st, 2011 03:13 pm (UTC)
:D Me too...
Morgan Briarwood: SPN Brokeback Manipbriarwood on July 1st, 2011 03:03 pm (UTC)
In a short story (<1000 words) it's best to stick to a single point of view. In a longer story, you can go with what works, what the plot needs. There's no number that's "best" or "too many".

What you have to watch out for is one-off POV scenes. If you're writing mainly from Sam's and Dean's POV, don't jump into a third character's head if it's only going to be for that one scene. Not without a darn good reason, at least. Sometimes you need that third (or fourth, or fifth...) perspective, but each time you introduce a new "set of eyes", you're asking the reader to invest in that character. So doing it for a single scene is...impolite, in a way. You're asking for an investment without paying it back.

(Though, since we're talking fanfic, if the reader is already invested in the character - Bobby, Castiel, Ellen, for example - you can get away with it.)
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on July 1st, 2011 03:13 pm (UTC)
This makes a whole lotta sense! I do have a one-off POV for my first chapter, but that's because of the set-up, introducing the 'monster', a la The Show. So I think that can be forgiven.

I was more concerned about head-hopping between Sam and Dean, actually. The last few Big Bangs I've read have been firmly planted in one boy's noggin, almost exclusively. I get staying to one POV for shorter pieces but to be honest, I got a little bored with it in the longer ones. So this helps a lot! *fistbump*
ratherastory: Crash and Burnratherastory on July 1st, 2011 03:26 pm (UTC)
A one-off POV as a prologue is just fine. Suspense/horror novelists are very fond of that particular narrative device. It creates suspense and is a very effective storytelling technique. :)
Morgan Briarwood: SPN Constancebriarwood on July 1st, 2011 03:30 pm (UTC)
The last few Big Bangs I've read have been firmly planted in one boy's noggin, almost exclusively.

Well, mine certainly isn't! I mostly switch between Dean and Sam, but there are scenes from the POVs of Bobby, Lenore, Jo and Cas. It's necessary, because each of them has feelings, thoughts and knowledge the others don't have. I couldn't possibly have written the climax without Cas's POV on Lucifer, because neither Sam nor Dean could understand why Michael didn't just kill Lucifer in the first place, a thousand years ago (or however long it was). Cas gets it: the Winchesters don't.

If you stay in a single POV throughout a long story, the reader doesn't know anything the POV character doesn't know, and everything the reader thinks she knows goes through that filter. If an author is skilled enough to pull off an unreliable narrator, that can work really well. But that is NOT easy to do, and it works best if the narrative is first person.

Head-hopping between two characters, in a third-person narrative is totally okay.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on July 1st, 2011 03:50 pm (UTC)
"Well, mine certainly isn't!"

True! Present company excluded. (And you KNOW I really dug your BB...) :D
It's a lid and it's black.: No Way Backblacklid on July 1st, 2011 09:22 pm (UTC)
As long as the breaks between POV are clear and serve the story, I see nothing wrong with switching back and forth between however many you need. I've lost track of the number of changes we've used for No Way Back: we toggle between the main character, Dean, Sam and Gwen as needed.

ETA: Real POV is not to be confused with cheater POV. LOL! I have strong opinions about this, I guess. It is a valid style, but it's one I personally find tiring... To me, writing about emotions and convictions (especially when it's not words coming out of the character's mouth) is a cop-out and the biggest reason that I stop reading a story. It is a much more difficult task to give the reader a clear picture of what the character is thinking or feeling without making it a pure "head case". Lots of writers will spend their wordcount explaining how the character feels during a scene rather than letting those feelings reflect in their words and reactions in a scene. The primary support structure for that to work is taking the time to properly build up the situation in the first place. If the writer needs to explain what a character thinks, it's usually because they're not taking their time to put that character into the scenario in the plot and also in their minds: watching what they do, then writing what they hear and see.

Edited at 2011-07-01 09:39 pm (UTC)
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on July 2nd, 2011 12:11 am (UTC)
Interesting observation. Ye olde "show vs. tell" dilemma. I tend to have the opposite problem. I honestly feel my writing doesn't emote enough. It doesn't connect, emotionally, character to reader. (At least, IMHO.)

I guess I don't recognize cheater POV until I'm flipping pages, skimming passages to get to the dialogue or the action. It's when I'm NOT doing this that I know an author has hooked me...hooked me but good! :D

Thanks for your input! *fistbump*
It's a lid and it's black.: Batman Does Not Share His Bouncy Ballblacklid on July 4th, 2011 01:01 am (UTC)
Um, you're welcome? LOL Here's where that inner-explainer POV works and you can get hooked, but it starts out slowly and you know there's a payoff at the end, so is that what makes it so readable for 4k words? Since I don't normally write stuff like this, maybe that's the difference? IDK, IDK...

The indefatigable Mrs. Griffinquickreaver on July 4th, 2011 03:23 am (UTC)
Thanks for the rec; the creative fields are so gray, it's difficult to know what works and what doesn't. What's "good" writing and what isn't (which is, of course, totally subjective!)