This is topic Mixed point of view in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

To visit this topic, use this URL:;f=1;t=007357

Posted by mayflower988 (Member # 9858) on :
I'm writing a novel that begins at the time the MC is eight years old (I think it may be a prologue) and then flashes forward ten years. When I started writing, I did the prologue in third-person. When I wrote the part that happens ten years later, I decided I preferred a first-person POV, but I still like the third-person for the prologue. Is that going to be a problem when I try to get it published? Will the shift in POV make it awkward?
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
Not necessarily, imo, especially if it is a prologue.
Posted by MJNL (Member # 9686) on :
Should be fine, plus it seems like it might add a reminiscent feel to the prologue, since it's kind of a "remembered" time relative to the rest of your story. Third will probably make it feel a little distant as compared to the hearty chunk of first person. Does that make sense?
Posted by mayflower988 (Member # 9858) on :
Thanks for your comments.

MJNL: I think so, you're saying it will help the prologue feel more distant and reminiscent if I use third-person POV, then switch to first-person for the rest of the novel.
Posted by MAP (Member # 8631) on :
I don't like third and first mixed up, but maybe it is just me. Do what feels right to you.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
I think the third-person voice for the opening is one way to avoid an eight-year-old's first-person voice for the opening. Narrative distance will be open to a degree. Readers will feel an arm's length standoff, meaning the opening has to be more engaging from other features than if narrative distance were closer, not necessarily a handicap but challenging to write. Maybe as challenging as writing a first-person eight-year-old's voice. I think the eight-year-old's voice might be essential for parts anyway.

I think too, that the opening will need to develop a strong narrator identity as is essential for third person. Otherwise, it will feel god-like omniscient and anchorless. Also, that will make the first-person main action require a new development of narrator identity up front.

If the third-person opening starts developing narrator identity and the first-person main action continues developing narrator identity, I think that would be least disruptive.

A prologue typically is a prefatory chapter or passage that introduces information necessary to understand the main action and in a different voice than the main action, often mostly a narrator voice rather than a character voice. A prelude similarly prefatorily introduces information necessary to understand the main action but in the same voice as the main action, i.e., often blended narrator and character voice, though with character voice predominant.

I wonder if the present-day first-person voice arches over both parts for narrator and character voice. If that is so, I think that's an artful choice for two voices readers can access and assimilate.
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
I remember a Spider Robinson novel some years back, that alternated first-person and third-person chapters, revealing towards the end [SPOILER WARNING!] that they were both the same person. It worked there, so I suppose it's practical---i. e. "you could get away with it."
Posted by babooher (Member # 8617) on :
If you have a reason and it works, it can be done. Heck, you don't even need a reason.

Switching POV has been done several times. Go for it.
Posted by mayflower988 (Member # 9858) on :
Thanks, everyone. I especially liked babooher's comment: "Heck, you don't even need a reason." :)
I think I can make it work.
Extrinsic, you kind of lost me in all that. It sounds like you're saying there are pros and cons to both options, and that even though I start the novel in third person, I need to make it absolutely clear that it's coming from my MC's point of view. Did I get that right?
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
Not so much "absolutely clear that it's coming from my MC's point of view," though that would be a desirable result, but that the narrator identity is sufficiently developed that readers at least can easily infer the two voices are different but one and the same.

Third person's strength is objectivity, objective reporting. First person's strength is subjectivity, open to interpretation reporting. A later-age person may have the benefit of objective 20/20 hindsight about the younger self, yet not have as objective a viewpoint about the present-day self.

That's more than credible. That's logical. I think that voice transformation over the course of a narrative could artfully enhance the narrative. The ending returning to an objective if first-person voice would complete the voice transformation cycle in parallel to the plot. Beautiful.
Posted by mayflower988 (Member # 9858) on :
Okay, I think I understand. It's more a matter of developing a distinct voice for my main character that will sound like the same voice, regardless of the POV. And like you said, when the MC is older, she'll be able to look more objectively at her past self, but not so much her present self. So the voice will be slightly different, but still the same. Thank you very much. That's very helpful.

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2