OSC discussed and used one non-MC POV (Poke) for the beginning, in part as a way to give some insight and perspective into the MC. The rest of the novel was then in the MC POV (Bean).
I liked this concept and used it in a short story of a couple and many of the crits mirrored what I hoped for. That the thoughts of the wife gave insight into the husband (MC)
My question is how do you feel about the reverse--Using the MC POV throughout the novel, then switching to a different POV for the ending?
Would that be too shocking for the reader after 200+ pages of being in the mind of the MC? I thought, like beginnings, it would be a different perspective to show how the ending and the MC changed throughout the course of the novel.
I are not smart enough to get into deep technical discussions about this but was curious about the general feelings.
I think that you'd have to foreshadow the possibilty: use that PoV earlier, so that it doesn't come out of nowhere and make the reader stop and figure out what's happening.
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My first thought was, "I'd kill you. I'd call you nasty names and then burn the pages." But... that's assuming that the pov switch stole from me the opportunity to see the mc's BIG CHANGE from his own head. If that happened, I'd assume that you did it as a cheat because showing the change would be to hard for you.
But assuming that you took care of the internal story arc BEFORE you made the switch and just wrapped up the plot/battle/whatever from another POV, then I think it could be neat. Kind of like the epilogue to the mc's internal story. I think you could do it--just don't steal my moment from me.
So after some thought...I think it's a cool idea. I love epilogues, especially long ones. Done right, it would make for a very, very satisfying ending. Get to it.
In my novel, I use 3 different POVs. For the epilogue/last chapter, a character who has not had a POV, but has been with them on the whole journey gets to tell it. I haven't yet had any crits get that far in the story, but I am hoping no one objects. I wrote a few things in his POV and realized that telling his POV actually ruins the story for me, even in little doses. Throughout, there is this nagging question of whether or not this character will be a traitor- so if I went to his POV, it would be hard to hide his intentions. But showing his POV for the last scene kind of reframes a lot of the story. If it is more epilogue like, I think it works better. I am pretty sure Butcher's Alera series has some epilogues from non-POV characters and it worked for me. Probably others as well, but that is the one that is coming to mind right now.
As a reader, I think that as long as we get all the important scenes from the right perspective, it would not upset me. though this is an important thing any time you have POV switches.
If you're going to do any head hopping, I'd recommend doing it sooner than later. Within the first few chapters, at least. It doesn't necessarily have to be the same character as the one you use at the end. But at least warn us that there's a possibility of switching viewpoints.
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Steven Brust did this in Agyar. The MC tells his story on a typewriter, which another character uses for the last chapter. At first, I hated the ending--more for what happened than for the POV switch. After the novel sat in my subconscious for a few weeks, I realized the closing emphasized a concept I would've otherwise overlooked. Anyone here who hasn't read the novel should know that the last chapter could only be told by another character.
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I'd say it depends on why you're doing it. For example, if you kill off your MC, then having a final chapter from a different POV character (tying off the loose ends) makes sense. But if you deny me the chance to see the climax/finale from the MC's POV for no good reason that I can see, then I'd be annoyed.
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I'm going to talk about this because it is a POV problem:
The Twilight books are a good example in why first person is not always a good idea, especially for new writers.
Because the series is told mostly from Bella's point of view, she comes across to many readers as "whiny" or "wussy" or "wishy-washy" and so on.
I think this is really too bad, because Bella is actually a very self-sacrificing, considerate, thinks-of-others-first kind of character. But because she's the one telling the story, it is almost impossible for Meyers to get that across (especially at the beginning).
I didn't realize it myself until after I'd read the first three books, and then I read Meyers' THE HOST (which was written later than the first book and in which she had learned a little better how to convery a self-sacrificing character in first person POV). Just as Wanderer in THE HOST is self-sacrificing, so is Bella in the Twilight series.
A truly self-sacrificing, considerate first person POV is going to have a dickens of a time showing that, because someone who is truly self-sacrificing is not going to go around talking about how self-sacrificing she is.
So the Twilight series is a good series for point of view study and how first person can really be hard to do well. And it also shows how great story can overcome even first person POV problems and still appeal to thousands and tens of thousands of readers.
I think it can work, especially if the character you switch to is someone the reader already knows. You just have to have a good reason for doing it.
This discussion made me think about how POV is handled in Owen Lister's THE VIRGINIAN. The whole story is about this almost archetypal cowboy, told from the POV of an unnamed observer, until near the end when the POV switches for a few pages to the inside of the head of the bad guy on his way to shoot it out with the Virginian. It was actually pretty weird to me, but the other people who read it didn't even notice (it was a book group book). I figure I noticed because I'm a writer.
So, you can do it, if you have a good reason, and the readers already know the character (as in the switch to Jacob in ECLIPSE).
I'm still not sure if it would work for my story...there are a couple cliffhangers that would be revealed right away if I did the POV switch.
I appreciate all the advice, those who did crits on my Q01 WOTF will be familiar with my specific thoughts for my novel.
CH 1 - 3rd POV with wife of MC (This helped me give insight into MC and helped the reader feel more for the MC when the wife died)
CH 2-11 - 3rd MC POV (All action including climax in the MC POV)
CH 12 - 3rd POV with the AI that has essentially taken over the role of the wife in the MC's life. (Ideally this would give additional insight into how the MC has changed and since I love symmetry it would mirror the POV switch from the 1st chapter)
So to answer some of the concerns, the POV switch would be to an integral character, there would have been a POV switch earlier, none of the action or conflict would be out of the MC POV, and while it would be a first time POV for that particular character...it really wouldnt be since that character and the 1st chapter POV wife are somewhat linked.
Who knows, since it would be a short 'epilogue' wrap-up type chapter maybe I will right it both ways and see which works best with a few reads from my fellow hatrackers.
Thanks again, you guys rock.
[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited January 16, 2010).]