Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Writer Wednesday: Books/Series That Change POV


I recently started reading a book in a series that I quit reading years ago. Why? A few years ago, my husband bought me the latest book in this series as a Christmas gift. At the time, I thought I wanted to read it. But after book six or seven, I couldn't take the series anymore. And the big reason was the POV. It changed out of the blue. I don't like when a series begins with one MC narrating and then all of a sudden three or four books in, we have multiple narrators. I've never understood this. I get attached to the POV and I don't want it to change.

But I've had this book on my shelf, and I felt obligated to give it a chance. After all, I liked the first three books in the series (before the POV change) and I thought now that time had past, I'd be more open to giving the series another try. Well...I'm trying. I really am. But I find myself cringing when yet another POV is introduced. A minor character's POV. I'll be the first to admit that seeing a scene from another character's POV can be interesting. It offers new insight. But I don't want to be inside every character's head. It's too much. I feel like I know everything that's going on and the poor MC is clueless. I'd rather discover things alongside her.

How do you feel about books that introduce a new POV late in the story/series?

45 comments:

  1. I feel the same way. I might even have a guess at the series. I like the main pov and maybe a second, but no more. If every character deserves their own story, then do that-give each their own. Its too much to handle, or you are being spoon fed everything. Either way, it seems like you're simply forcing the series to continue.

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    1. Yeah, I have to wonder if the number of books in the series has to do with the POV change—like they needed more POVs to make it longer. Like you said. ;)

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  4. Typos...It's late as I post this.

    I guess that's something I'll have to be careful of with my follow-up to Gabriel, because while Rum (The antagonist from Gabriel) is the protagonist is primary POV character, I do have one other POV character, but it's clear early on that's how the story is, and the two stories do intersect, so I hope when you have a chance next year if I can run it by you, since you've read Gabriel (Though it's changed some since you saw it last before I sold it) you might run it by me, because I personally love mutli-POV when it WORKS.

    As you've said, when it's too many POVs in one book it can be too much.

    I can say that I wouldn't do this for Rum's story if it didn't feel right.

    I hope you'll finally get a chance to read the Hermux Tantamoq series that you know I love. The first book (Time Stops For No Mouse) is mostly from Hermux's POV, though we do get occasional shifts to other characters and I never felt the author shortchanged my getting to know the protagonist to do so.

    That said, from "The Sands of Time" onward, we get more POV characters, but they're shorter than the intrusive POV you're describing, it feels like a natural extension of the series. Something he would've done in the first book, but hadn't learned what he needed to in order pull it off so seamlessly.

    Somehow, Micheal Hoeye manages to do this multi-POV (Often within a singe chapter) without either confusing the reader of what character we're focusing on, or shortchanging the discovery process you were touching on in the post above.

    This series inspired another story I'm trying to draft (Outside the Gabriel and Rum universe) without driving myself mad with the "Little Things."

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    1. I don't think you have anything to worry about, Taurean. That's not too many POVs at all.

      I've seen authors pull off the multiple POVs, but it's usually done from the start, not by introducing them halfway through book three. You know?

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    2. I follow you, yes, part way into a series where the POV character changes in book 3 from who it was in book 1 that can be unsettling, even if the new character has been on screen in other books and you LIKED him or her, this can feel annoyingly random for the reader.

      The reason I was kind of concerned for Rum's story is because while I do the POV switch within the first three chapters (We start with Rum than in chapter two switch the second POV character, etc) was because I don't do this in Gabriel and wonder if those who read Gabriel will have the jarring sense of "Wait, where's Gabriel?"

      Even though Rum's story takes place where Gabriel leaves off time-wise, since Rum wouldn't have gone through what he did in the events of Gabriel to warrant this story happening any sooner, you know?

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    3. I still think you're fine, Taurean. It's still pretty early on and Gabriel is still in there.

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    4. Well, if by "In there" you mean in terms of Rum's friendship with him
      But Gabriel isn't "physically in Rum's Story" but more in his mind when certain challenges (Bring to mind events from Gabriel) and I only write from Gabriel's POV in the first book, and that evolved into a close third person.

      Rum's story is first person because I really found Rum's voice explodes (In a GOOD way) when I rewrote the first chapter (Originally in a close third like Gabriel) and to counter that, I used third person for my second POV character to better make the shift between the two easier for the reader, I hope...

      Maybe I'm more open to multi-POV stories in general because I've been spoiled by the books I read that do it are so well executed, IMHO. I certainly know it can be mishandled, but I tend to take the "Benefit of the doubt" tact as a reader in this regard.

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    5. I made this decision in part because I didn't want to fall into the trap of alienating potential readers by either recapping the events of Gabriel in ways that bore those who read Gabriel or give the impression to readers who might start with Rum I'm more "long-winded" than I actually am.

      That said, I do hope readers will get the value of reading both in order, while not making readers who might start with Rum feel lost having not read Gabriel. This is a challenge in a non-open ended series when even if the story can "Stand alone" you still have a linear ongoing story storyline and want to honor and reward the readers who started with your first.

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  5. I don't like too many POVs in a story. I've only liked it in a few stories. I think it has to do with whether it fits the story and the skills of the author.

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    1. I agree. It can be done, but you have to do it well.

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  6. I don't think it's a wise choice to introduce a new POV late in a novel. And what is the point of including a minor character's POV? Hmmm... There has to be a really compelling reason to even have two POVs in a novel.

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    1. I'm a big fan of dual POV, but I agree that even then there has to be a reason for it. I started writing a book in dual POV and realized it would be better with just one POV, so I'm going to rewrite it that way.

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  7. I think it depends on the genre, and the author. I know in espionage fiction while you have a main character, you will often venture into the minds of other characters, even if only for a scene or two-unless you're trying to hold back a secret about one character from your readers until you're ready to spring it on them. That's the way I write my own work.

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    1. It kind of makes me think of movies. They tend to follow everyone around so the audience sees everything. I prefer books where I discover things along with the MC.

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  8. You must want to kill me right now ... LOL :-)

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    1. No, not at all! I don't mind more than one POV when it's done throughout. It's when the author suddenly throws in a new POV that I can't see being needed. It's like they are trying to find ways to keep the story going. Especially when there's a big overlap with the next chapter and that POV.

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  9. I am definitely one of those readers who doesn't like a lot of POV changes in one story. It gets confusing to me. I like it if it can stay with one or at the most two. But if it starts to include five characters, I start to pull out my hair. LOL!

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  10. I'm with you on this one, Kelly. One of the main reasons why I couldn't adapt to Game of Thrones is because of the constant changing in POV. I tried a few times to get back into the series but settled for watching it instead, lol.

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    1. See, now multiple POV works well for movies and TV. Definitely. But for books, it's just not for me.

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  11. I'm with you when there's a series, especially a YA one. I don't really get the "set in the same world" series format. But people often like them very much. On the other hand, I love books that have multiple POVs to begin with. King, McCammon and Koontz do a good job with this.

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    1. Yes, I've seen it work with books that begin with the multiple POV right from the start. That's easier to handle than jarring the reader with the POV switch halfway through.

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  12. Good food for thought. I think if you notice the switch, then it's not done well. I've read a number of books with POV shifts, but they seem very natural. Something I'll have to keep in mind.

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    1. I think that's the key. The switch has to be done well. Otherwise it will pull the reader out of the story.

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  13. I prefer the same pov character in a series. Sometimes two pov characters work, like in the Beautiful Creatures series, though that can also be confusing at times. Not a bunch of different view points though. I confuse easily and need the story simple. :)

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    1. The worst is when you have to stop mid-chapter and then when you go back to it, it takes you a while to figure out which character is narrating. That frustrates me.

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  14. I usually feel like the author didn't have enough material with the origianl mc and wanted to keep the series going

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    1. That thought has definitely crossed my mind with this series.

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  15. I write third-person omniscient almost exclusively, and tend to prefer books that also have that classic narrative mode. It's kind of standard to do third-person omniscient in historical, as compared to something like YA contemporary. But I hate the current trend of alternative narrators, one chapter at a time. If you have more than one important character, there's no reason not to just do third-person omniscient.

    Andy Mulligan's Trash was one of the worst examples I've seen of the bopping around among narrators. He used EIGHT narrators, including a few who only got one chapter, and had the final chapters bopping around among 3-4 narrators! It was made even worse by the silly, self-conscious hand-offs and identifications at the start of each chapter. "It's me!" "Me again!" "I'm handing it over to Name now." "My name is Grace, and you will only hear one thing from me." "Back to me!" Of course, only one or two of these endless narrators had any sort of distinctive voice. The rest sounded exactly alike.

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    1. 8 narrators? Wow, yeah, just go omniscient then. lol That's got to be crazy confusing with 8 narrators alternating chapters.

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  16. I agree. I don't mind multiple POV if it's established from the beginning AND it makes sense for the story. Sometimes it's done because the author wants to share one little piece of information and introducing a new character is easier than making the MC work for the info. This drives me bonkers and usually means a DNF.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean and that bugs me too. I hate not finishing books, but there are so many out there and I have put down more than a few to move on to something else.

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  17. If it's early on, it's fine. But like you said, if it's later, I wouldn't like it either. Why the switch, I'd wonder. Probably because I'd be so attached to the original MC.

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    1. Yes, that's how I feel. I want to stay with the original MC. Honestly, I can't see the reason for the POV switch.

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  18. I prefer it it if a series has multiple perspectives. I like seeing events from different characters. I'm experimenting with this with my trilogy. The first book in the series is told from one cast of characters, the second book- a different cast, and the third- yet another group of narrators. The characters from previous books will be featured as a POV character but they won't be the main narrator. As in, the character from book 1 will have a chapter or two in book 2. Sort of like Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles.

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    1. That sounds like a companion series, Auden. Those I LOVE! I'm talking about when a book suddenly introduces a new POV and it's jarring to the reader. What you are describing is totally fine in my mind.

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  19. It is harder to adjust to a change in POV later in a series. A chapter or two from a different POV can be intriguing.

    Interesting post! :)
    ~Jess

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    1. I think I am too loyal to my MC or MCs if it's dual POV. ;)

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  20. I have the same problem with modern books but having read a couple of books by Wilkie Collins where the pov changes four or five times (rarely returning to a pov used before though), I can see the appeal. In those books (Woman in White and The Moonstone), it works.

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  21. I am struggling with this myself as I am gearing up to write the third installment in my Peter Stoller series. Up to now the novellas have been all from a limited POV of what Peter knows and thinks, and I want to be consistent, but I also think some of this story should maybe come from Peter's lover . . . Good to know that people find switches like that annoying. Meanwhile, Happy Blitz Day (should probably have done the foremost post, but . . .)

    ~MPL
    pepperwords

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  22. I'm not a fan of the POV switch either, and I think modern books have gotten way out of control with it. If done well, I can be okay with switching between two characters, but that's my limit.

    POV switching feels like cheating to me---I prefer it when the author crafts the story so we know what we need to know through the initial POV, and if it's necessary to get into all the character's heads, it should be written from third omniscient---a POV option that many writers seem to have almost forgotten.

    Hey, it's nice meeting you through the Blitz. :)

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  23. It can catch the reader off guard. When I read the Discovery of Witches book, which I loved), it shifted POV's. First the witch, then the vampire, then the bad vampires (not very often) I worked with the story line. I am not bothered by the shifts. As others have said, so long as it's established up front so the reader knows what to expect. I do think it is a personal thing.. I was looking for a writer to exchange pages with a while back. One women I connected with refused to read my stuff because it was first person POV. I supposed the trick is to do it cleanly so as not to torture the reader ( a lesson I am working through myself).

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    1. Yes, it has to be done well. It shouldn't tear the reader from the story.

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