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Group Questions? > Multiple Narrations/Point of Views

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message 1: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 1352 comments Mod
What does everyone think of a book written in different narrations? Such as first person, narration along the lines of describing whats going on and then basic dialogue?

Just curious because for my current novel I have the main character tell what's going on in first person and then usually when he's not explaining things I am doing the telling in basic narration format which of course if followed by dialogue.

Just wanted to get peoples thoughts on back and forth narrations and point of views.


message 2: by Quentin (last edited May 04, 2015 01:48PM) (new)

Quentin Wallace (quentinwallace) | 380 comments I think that could work, I've thought about doing that myself. Just be careful in your execution, it can probably be tricky and you don't want it to get too confusing.


message 3: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 1352 comments Mod
Oh it doesn't get confusing and I make it quite clear to which point of view is being made. I just felt I had to write like that because I wanted to have two views of how the story is viewed.


message 4: by Jacek (new)

Jacek Slay So it's like paragraphs of first person narrative mixed with paragraphs of third person narrative? That's a pretty common trick, I've seen it multiple times. Just have finished reading "No Country for Old Men" by C. McCarthy which has such narrative scheme.

So, in my opinion, that's nothing unusual.


message 5: by Jason (new)

Jason Crawford (jasonpatrickcrawford) | 587 comments I've been experimenting with including vignettes from other characters' perspectives, using 1st person present tense, in my 3rd person past tense novels. Feedback so far is good :)


message 6: by Ed (new)

Ed Morawski | 53 comments I've experimented with 1st and 3rd with good results - though it's difficult to pull off smoothly.

I think multiple 1st person works well too (different characters narrating their portions)


message 7: by Kat (new)

Kat Desi (katdesiwrites) | 73 comments I have previously read novels written in this way. 1st POV for one of the main characters and then 3rd POV for another main character. It was off-putting at first but you get used to it in due course.


message 8: by Renee E (new)

Renee E | 395 comments Check out Patricia McKillip's Solstice Wood for a great example of how to pull it off.


message 9: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 1352 comments Mod
Right? It's not bad as long as it's done correctly.


message 10: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 245 comments Charles Dickens used it in Bleak House, so you are not alone.

Indeed, I am rather fond of the epistolary point of view, which is composed of fictional documents that can be of any type, so I would find it rather mild.


message 11: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 517 comments had to do some digging in my collection to see what you meant... is it both in first person and each chapter switches between character viewpoints (a lesson in love by Marie Therese Baird) or in third person (misjudged by Jeanette mines) [sorry they're both romances I was 10...]

if done in first person it would be easy to lose the character's voice and they would start sounding the same or suffer from author voice.
it might be manageable in third but then it might suffer from repetition (2 characters describing the same scene though slightly different).
I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to do... -_-


message 12: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha Vohn I'd find that much more tolerable than novels where multiple characters tell a different chapter every chapter.
Having one strong first person voice with another filling in the gaps isn't a bad thing :0)


message 13: by Anne (new)

Anne Berkeley (aberkeley) It can be done, but it's rare. Diana Gabaldon does it with her Outlander series. 1st person is the main, Claire, and when she switches to Jamie, it's in third. And she separates POV changes by chapter. Would I switch POVs within a chapter? No, definitely not. Not me.


message 14: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha Vohn I'm currently reading a novel that's told from the point of view of four different characters.

At first I groaned and thought, "this is going to suck". But I'm delightfully surprised to say that it's growing on me.

The success is most definitely in the author's ability to leave the flow of the piece uninterrupted by the change in characters. It requires a bit more finesse than standard one person narration.


message 15: by Shari-amor (new)

Shari-amor | 1348 comments It can be done. Some authors rock at it but you definitely have to be careful. There is a series that I really enjoy where the author has viewpoints from a few different characters but in one of the books she failed at it for me because she decided to add in a viewpoint from a past voice. 4 characters in the present and one of them has both present and past. I started to get so confused by who was who at that point. That past voice didn't fit or flow with the narration. It always seemed random whenever I got to the past voice chapter


♥️♥️ Lanae ♥️♥️  (ramboramblernae) Justin wrote: "What does everyone think of a book written in different narrations? Such as first person, narration along the lines of describing whats going on and then basic dialogue?

Just curious because for m..."



Are the way James Patterson writes his Alex Cross and Women's murder club series examples of the kind of format you're asking about? I'm a little confused about the topic and some of the responses so I was wondering if that's what you meant.

If so, I think the way the stories are written in first person POV for the protagonist and then 3rd person for the suspects/murderers, etcs works well for mystery novels in terms of suspense. I've never actually seen it done in any other genre though so I'm curious as to how that or you* would make that work?

I've actually considered it myself (for my own manuscript), but I'm worried it might to be confusing or irritating to the reader


message 17: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 1352 comments Mod
I'm not familiar with how it's done in the Alex Cross series as I've never read them. I made this thread because I was curious to see how many people have written in multiple points of view or have come across it in their reading.

I just finished my novel to which I use multiple points of view. When the main character is by himself it's a first person perspective. When it's other people I describe what's going on and of course there's dialogue and toward the end I describe the actions of the main character but it's for a reason.


message 18: by Renee E (new)

Renee E | 395 comments Patricia McKillip is a master at this.


message 19: by Yolanda (new)

Yolanda Ramos (yramosseventhsentinel) I like multiple pov, but not too many and the changes have to be clear. But as a reader, I have to say I can't stand present tense pov, but that's just my preference. I won't read a book with present tense, no matter how people rave about it


message 20: by Gem (new)

Gem Larkspur (gemsl) | 62 comments Justin wrote: "I'm not familiar with how it's done in the Alex Cross series as I've never read them. I made this thread because I was curious to see how many people have written in multiple points of view or have..."


I like multiple POV - although transitions need to be clear. 1st Person to 3rd? I don't remember it from the one or two I've read in the Alex Cross series so either it wasn't in those books or it was really well done.

Justin, how you describe what you've done sounds really creative and dynamic. I would definitely read it.


message 21: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 1352 comments Mod
Thank you Gem. Honestly I didn't even intend to write it like that as it was something that just sort of happened. As I was writing I had the main character describing his actions, his life so any time he's in the book it's as though he's talking. Unless he's being knocked out or something to which I have to describe it myself. Any other moments in the book that do not involve the main character are written and told from 3rd person narrative perspective. I did it without thinking but at the same time I realized it was a good way to separate the two distinct characters being told though the book.


message 22: by Amber (new)

Amber Foxx (amberfoxx) | 274 comments I recently read Burial Rites, which was a GR book of the year. I gave it a five star. And it's written in both first person present tense, in the POV of a woman condemned to death, and third person past tense, in the POV of various people around her. If anyone wants to see this multiple viewpoint technique done well, I recommend reading this book. Actually, I just all-around recommend it.


message 23: by Kate (new)

Kate Havas (mkatehavas) | 3 comments I don't mind multiple POV, especially when writers play around with unreliable narrators and seeing the same events from different perspectives and characters knowing different pieces of the story puzzle. Recently I've read several books in which the authors (generally female) write the female MC in first person and the love interest/MMC in third and I find that off-putting since to me it reads like they want to broaden the scope of the story but couldn't be bothered or weren't skillful enough to develop a second perspective, or like they have a hang-up about writing male characters.


message 24: by Brandon (new)

Brandon Tietz | 4 comments Justin, you hit the nail right on the head early: you can pretty much do whatever you want POV-wise as long as it's written well. Something like Palahniuk's "Rant" is a great example of multi-POV done well. You should check that one out if you haven't already.


message 25: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 1352 comments Mod
Brandon wrote: "Justin, you hit the nail right on the head early: you can pretty much do whatever you want POV-wise as long as it's written well. Something like Palahniuk's "Rant" is a great example of multi-POV d..."

Thanks Brandon and I'll have to check that out. My editor just finished going over my book and she noticed my switch from 1st and 3rd person point of views. She said it works well and is totally fine only perhaps I need transitions from each. As I've stated since the beginning, I wanted to give 2 unique perspective POV's and felt this was the only way it could be done but since I've found out it's not uncommon I am glad I went with it as it shows a great trait of diversity.


message 26: by Nina (new)

Nina Jean (writernina) | 5 comments mixing first and third person -limited is done by a lot of authors, sometimes seamlessly. but I think the better authors stick to one main POV and use the other POV as a kind of add'l clarifying agent.


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