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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Timeline Issues

   
Author Topic: Timeline Issues
Meredith
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I just completed a read-through of DREAMER'S ROSE after letting it sit for a couple of months. There's plenty of work to do.

One of the things that struck me, however, was some timeline issues.

I did something different (for me) in DREAMER'S ROSE in that I kept to a single POV per chapter. Each chapter has a character name at the top and that character is the POV for the whole chapter.

Well, towards the climax in particular, there are a couple of events that I want to tell from two or three different POV's. In another book, I would just have put a scene break in right there and showed the alternate POV. That's not what I did with this one. I waited until the next chapter.

In some places, I found this a little disorienting in the read-through. It felt like the story had moved on and then jerked back.

So, now I'm wrestling with it. Should I just make shorter chapters (this one already has pretty short chapters anyway, because of the POV thing) and reorganize so it doesn't feel like the story is going two steps forward and one step back? Or should I give up the one POV/chapter idea and just let things fall where they belong in the timeline?

I know nobody (but me) has read this, yet. But any general opinions?


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sholar
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I am biased because I had a similar problem. I like one chapter, one POV. I think that makes it easier for the reader to follow and I am not the best at smoothly shifting POVs within a chapter. For one scene, it is a crucial event for every character. For this little fifteen minute block of time, where everyone basically just sits there bleeding, I have 3 chapters. The chapters are very short, but if I tried to return to it later, I would lose the immediacy of the scene. You can always try it both ways.
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Kitti
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Are these 1st person POVs or 3rd person? If it's 1st person, then I motion you keep with the one chapter one POV - it makes things far less confusing (at least to me as a reader). If it's 3rd person, then I feel like you have a lot more leeway when it comes to switching POV characters between scenes.
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Pyre Dynasty
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I'm doing the one POV per chapter things as well. I vote small chapters. It sounds like a tricky situation still. If it was my book I might do the whole scene from one POV and then later in the story when your in another POV have them remember about it. (Perhaps not a full blown flashback just something like "Diana was horrified when Kiara killed the king, she was almost ready to attack Kiara right there, but then she realized it was the right thing to do.")
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Meredith
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quote:
Are these 1st person POVs or 3rd person?

Close third POV. The reason for essentially retelling the events is that the characters have important--and very different--perceptions of and reactions to these events. I try to actually only show the event once. (I think I failed at that at least once. Something else I have to clean up.) But the subsequent chapters go inside the heads of the other character(s) for their reactions, etc.


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MAP
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I have no problem with switching POVs at scene breaks within a chapter as long as you make it clear in the first sentence whose POV we are in. I think this works really well at climaxes when a whole bunch of threads come together. Brandon Sanderson did this really well in Elantris if I remember correctly.
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NoTimeToThink
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When the event itself happens, can you avoid presenting it from one of the 3 POV's, so that we see the event unfiltered them? A 4th POV, or a very clincal presentation of the event, perhaps? Then go to very short chapter reactions from your 3 POV's.
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WBSchmidt
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I think you can do either scene breaks within the chapters or continue with one POV per chapter with equal effect. I have seen books using both techniques and the work just as well.

What it depends upon is what kind of reading experience you want for the reader. By having these POVs in separate chapters I imagine that the tension is lessened somewhat because chapter breaks often are used in a break in the action. In addition, chapter breaks are common places where readers will stop reading until they return. If you want your readers to continue with the action (i.e. a large climax sequence with multiple POVs) then it may be best to go with chapters with multiple POVs.

Using chapters with multiple POVs provide the writer with the opportunity to group scenes of similar theme or topic but from different POVs. This is useful because it helps build up the tension. You can make these scenes smaller, with shorter paragraphs, and quicker sentences to help build up tension. This technique is similar to movies jumping scenes in the "big battle" between different participants to build the tension in the conflict.

Hope that helps.

--William


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jayazman
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I don't see a problem with shorter chapters. I have read many books that have some long chapters, and some short chapters. I have seen many books that have chapters that are only one page long. So if you want to keep the 1 pov per chapter, I don't see a problem with it.
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KayTi
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I think near the end having the multiple POVs converge in chapters is actually a nifty way to speed things up, increase the dramatic tension, and alert the reader that you're getting close to the climax.

So I think your gut is telling you that you need to do this (otherwise there's too much back-tracking, right?) - follow along and see how it reads with multiple POVs in one chapter separated only by scene breaks. If it's only the last few chapters that are affected, it's not likely to be a whole lot of time invested if it turns out you don't care for how it works out.


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Elan
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I recently read author Ken Scholes' books, "Lamentation" and "Canticle." He handles each switch in POV by putting the character's name as the title to the section. It did not feel disruptive, even when they were very short sections.
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