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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Untitled (Which POV is better?)

Author Topic: Untitled (Which POV is better?)
Crystal Stevens
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This is the same story I've been struggling with that started with Jeram sneaking into a tribal council meeting. After looking at some crits, I've decided the whole thing might read better from a different POV.

The story involves Toka and Julie of which either could be the POV character, though I've been told since Toka is facing the most risk, the story should be told from his POV. The problem with this is Toka won't be present in the last half of the story... but Julie will be, and the star attraction. I do have a way to get around this, but it'll be tricky.

Anyhoo; I started rough drafts from each POV... Toka's and Julie's... and can't decide which is better. I hope I'm not breaking any rules by posting both of them here.

Here's the first 13 from Julie's POV:
Voices came from the house behind her. Its front door opened then closed. Good, he was gone. Julie stood on the deck and leaned over the railing to gaze across an immense backyard.

In Noramian culture women served male family members with no thought of doing otherwise. So why couldn’t she have served Delan and just let it go? Because his attitude raised memories of her slave collar and how her mistress had handled her the exact same way. And because Julie was a starship’s first officer where the crew accepted her as an equal.

Her body shook with suppressed rage she didn’t want anyone inside the house to hear. So she struck the railing with a fist. The wood’s surface cracked. Great, one more thing to go wrong.

A hand gripped her shoulder. She grasped it tight and faced

And here's Toka's:
Toka gaped at the roast dela, hot vegetables, and thick brown gravy that traveled down Delan’s tunic to join his plate on the dining room floor. Julie could be impulsive at times, but Toka never expected this and watched her storm out the backdoor.

“You see? You see?” Delan wiped at his tunic to smear it even worse.

Mother pushed away from the table. “Here now, let me get you a clean one.”

Delan stripped off the tunic. Mother took it away while Delan glared at Toka. “I can’t believe you intend to mate with that... that...”

Earther? Toka knew Delan wanted a more vile word, but none seemed adequate enough to suit him. “I’m sure Julie can explain

The story centers on Toka having to choose between the woman he loves and his obligations to the tribe. His father is the tribe's chief with Toka next in line. If the council sees fit, Toka could be exiled never to return if he insists on mating with Julie.

So what do you think. Should I go with Julie's POV or Toka's?

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Toka's sounds slightly more intriguing to me. I'd stick with that. It's clear to me he's the man in the middle, which should make it easier to show both sides of the coin.

Good luck!

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Grayson Morris
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I agree with snapper: I was more engaged by Toka's POV.

There's no reason you can't switch to Julie's POV in the second half of the story, as long as you make the dividing line clear to the reader.

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I like the version from Toka's viewpoint better, but it's apples to oranges.

Julie's viewpoint:
1) Inactive and informational -
2) We know that Julie is angry, but mostly we are told why
3) Nit - If Julie was a first officer, she would be treated as MORE than equal
4) Because we don't know HOW Julie is supposed to serve males, I thought you were implying SEXUALLY. From reading Toka's viewpoint, this does not seem to be the case, so you might want to make this clearer (otherwise we will have a heightened expectation of the stakes for Julie, and will then feel like her plight is exaggerated and feel cheated when we find out she just had to serve dinner.)

Toka's viewpoint:
1) Active and engaging
2) Not as good an explanation of events - took 2 or 3 readings to figure out that Julie threw food on Delan (thought he was just a sloppy eater; I'm nothing if not dense), so I didn't know what he meant by "You see?" - consider starting with the food flying...
3) You might want to start the last paragraph "Earther? SLAVE? Toka knew..." so we understand Julie's status sooner.

I would discourage switching POV's halfway through in a short story - I'd stick with one or the other. --> BUT WAIT - I just went back and read about Toka being absent for part of this. Why? Then maybe you should switch back and forth a bit so we get used to both POV's before he disappears.
From your summary, you emphasize that Toka has a conflict to resolve, and imply that Julie really has no say (or if she does, she has already decided), so I would tell the story from Toka's view.

[This message has been edited by NoTimeToThink (edited November 23, 2010).]

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Crystal Stevens
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Not long after the first 13, Delan leaves and the rest of the family discuss Delan's need for power with his first step to get rid of Toka. Delan's "holier-than-thou" attitude toward women, and Julie in particular, is what this story revolves around and why Julie plays such an important part in the latter half of the story... after the tribal council exiles Toka. This is why Toka can't be present when Julie makes her move to save her man.

This is my story in a peanut shell, and I too think Toka's POV is better, but was worried about his absence in the latter part of the story until he reappears at the end. I'm going to try and work around that and see what happens.

Thanks to you folks for your responses. Sometimes I just need a nudge in the right direction .

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I agree with NoTimeToThink: it's hard to compare these two openings because they are apples and oranges. The first is mostly telling, and there isn't anything actually happening. The second is happening right now, and showing. Unfortunately, this inequality makes it hard to decide which POV would be better.

Is there any way you can shift back and forth between the two POVs throughout the story? That way, you can start with Toka (which sounds like what you want) and end with Julie, but the reader will already be accustomed to hearing from her.

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I agree with previous posters that the opening from Toka's POV is more engaging. Here's a thought: Why not write that same opening from Julie's point of view? If she will be present throughout the entire story, while Toka won't, I would suggest writing the whole thing from her POV.
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I agree that Toka's POV is more direct and engaging, while Julie's POV is remote. But it occurs to me to wonder WHY you wrote them that way; what is different about your relationship (so to speak) with each character? I don't see a reason why Julie's POV couldn't have been just as direct and engaging, rather than being mostly told to us.

I wonder if you need more time to get to know Julie, that seeing her through Toka for a while would accomplish? Then switch to her once he's not available anymore.

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