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POVs?
Posted: 25 July 2013 01:48 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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Just opened my Word file to see that I have over 10000 words. Before I got too excited, I realized that I have six pov characters already, and I might have to remove some. I figured that for a story as epic as this one involving so many types of Gelfling, I would need multiple povs. (I usually write only one or two) But I can’t think of the last MG/YA novel I read that had more than three POVs (edit, yes I can, it was Libba Bray’s The Diviners. But of course, that was aimed at older YA readers, and was 600 pages. But she’s an established NYTB and can do what she wants, lol). As an adult who has read GRRM’s books and other epic fantasy novels, I am probably more tolerant of this than a younger reader, but I’m not sure.


Anyway, I’m trying to write my povs as closely and intimately as possible, getting right in the character’s brain. Even skekTek’s (the only non-Gelfling I’ve written so far). I feel like that intimacy—and only using pov characters I think the reader will care about—will help to keep the reader reading, but I’m not sure if I need to scale back a bit. I guess I could eliminate one, but I tried to be very thoughtful about my pov characters and make their scenes meaningful for more than just setting up a later scene (which was one of my biggest peeves with GRRM’s books, grrr!)


So I guess my question is, how many povs is too many, and can keeping the perspective close and tight keep the reader more engaged with alternating narrators?

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Posted: 25 July 2013 03:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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I think it really just depends on the overall story you’re trying to tell. In fantasy novels, especially in bigger worlds like this one, it’s totally normal to have multiple POV characters. Personally, I wouldn’t add any more POVs than what you already have because I don’t know that the reader would be able to keep everyone straight, and the last thing you want is to pull them out of your story. For the author quest submission, I think it also depends on whether you’re writing a short story to submit or whether you’re turning in chapters from the longer piece. I don’t know that a lot of POV changes would work for a short story like they would for a novel. But again, it really just depends on the story you’re trying to tell.

Is there any way that you could combine some of them and pare it down to maybe three or four at most? If it helps, you might take a look to see if any of the POVs are actually from minor characters. If so, and they’re often in the same scene with your major characters, you could try combining those and rewriting them so they’re all from your major characters’ viewpoints.

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Posted: 25 July 2013 03:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Thanks for the feedback, y’all! I do have one pov that I might be able to write from the main pov character’s pov, but the others all feel so necessary. Hmmm.


It’s funny, I started out with a single pov (who’s still my favorite), then I realized I’d have to write a Skeksis, then I knew I’d need another Gelfling for a scene my main Gelfling wouldn’t be around for, and then I realized that if those two Gelfling were going to join forces fairly quickly, I wanted to know what was going on in the Crystal Palace from a non-Skeksis pov… Argh!


Even with all the povs, my plot is pretty tight, and I think I can tell it in 50-60000 words, but I’m worried I’d have to switch to omniscient if I want to tell the story I want to tell without having too many pov characters. But I’m not sure I have the “voice” down for omniscient, and I think that “the kids today” (let me get out my walker and my trifocals) prefer to read more intimate povs in YA rather than a distant narrator (more popular in MG, IMO).


Eh, I’m going to keep going with all the povs I have now, and if it feels like too many later, or there’s too much to finish in 50K words, I’ll revise.

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Posted: 26 July 2013 09:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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I just had a serious setback. I have a full outline for my novel and have drafted about 33,000 words so far, but I’ve just seen guidance on the characters, adding an unfortunate detail on one, and introducing two new ones I knew nothing of. They simply do not fit in the story I’m telling. Bummer.

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Posted: 26 July 2013 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Thanks. I’ll revise what I can within the framework I’ve got and march on. The first draft of the complete novel should be done within the next few weeks.

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Posted: 26 July 2013 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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I second urSkaa’s comment. If you’re talking about Rian and the other two Gelfling that are his companions, I wouldn’t worry. There’s plenty of room for playing around with the characters. And as has been said, it’s the writing and your ability to tell a good story that matters more than the details.


Good luck!

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Posted: 26 July 2013 12:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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TereLiz, when you say POV characters, are you writing in first person from each of those characters, or from a limited omniscient perspective? 


I generally use limited omniscient so I can get inside the heads of 2-3 characters without the limitations imposed by a first person view.  (Plus, since the Gelflings aren’t human, a first person view would be really hard to do, at least in my opinion.)


Like urSkaa said, I think that any more than three and things can get a little complicated.  Of course, if you can pull off more than that, you can at least try it out and see what happens.  When all else fails, fix it in post!


And Nash, kudos on all the writing!  I think it really is a good idea to have the entire novel plotted out, if not fully written, before the submissions come around.  That way you can spend a lot of time revising and making sure everything fits and makes sense, as well as choosing what you want to submit, since we can only send in a max of 10,000 words.

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Posted: 26 July 2013 01:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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I’m technically writing alternating limited subjective, where I treat each pov like close-third, as if I were writing first person-past tense for each character, but with third-person pronouns. Confused yet? wink


Think Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series—though I think he sticks to 3-4 povs per book AND uses the pov characters’ names as chapter headings. I find that to be the most popular type of alternating third-person in the lower range of YA, where the pov characters get the same intimate treatment, and tell the story colored by their own experiences. That way there’s no authorial intrusion, which can be all too common, and I’m forced to avoid the dreaded “little did (s)he know…”. As much as I love stories with narrators who have a specific “voice”—like Lemony Snicket, or basically any Terry Pratchett novel—mine is just not unique enough and I feel I get better results with a more intimate pov.


I actually began writing in 1st person past, but soon realized the I needed more than one character to tell the story and it all went downhill from there! I love writing first person, my novel on sub is in first person, but I felt like third was the only way to go with this story.

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Posted: 26 July 2013 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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I’m doing third person, limited omniscient with a small number of POV characters in the spotlight for different scenes. BTW - I agree with TereLiz on Terry Pratchett - what a unique voice! I love his books. I don’t think something like his style would work for this story, though. But, if there’s ever a Discworld Author Quest….. grin

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Posted: 26 July 2013 06:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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A.C.H. Smith wrote his adaption of the DC movie in 3rd Person Omniscient, delving into the heads of dozens of characters, skimming the thoughts of others. Giving voice to the many characters in this rather large and complex universe. As a narrator, Smith has one of the better grasps of language I’ve read in a while. I should like to meet him one day.

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Posted: 27 July 2013 01:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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The novelization by A.C.H. Smith is one of the resources I’m using for reference. The third person/multiple POV perspective he used is consistent with the movie. According to Wikipedia, “Henson took a keen interest in the novelization, as he considered it as a legitimate part of the film’s world”.

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Posted: 27 July 2013 02:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Hi, everyone. If you’re worried about having too many POV characters in your submission, perhaps consider having it focus on just one or two characters. Your submission doesn’t necisarily have to be the first chunk of what your book will be, it can be a story that inspires or sets the stage for your full book idea. This is just a suggestion, of course, but it might help you focus your ideas.

Rob Valois

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Posted: 27 July 2013 04:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Rob Valois - 27 July 2013 02:59 PM

Hi, everyone. If you’re worried about having too many POV characters in your submission, perhaps consider having it focus on just one or two characters. Your submission doesn’t necisarily have to be the first chunk of what your book will be, it can be a story that inspires or sets the stage for your full book idea. This is just a suggestion, of course, but it might help you focus your ideas.

Rob Valois

That is a very good point, Rob. Thank you for stating that. Sometimes condensing something into a short story—while it has its own rules and considerations and needs to be more compact—can be a nice lead in into a larger narrative idea. I’m definitely keeping this in mind.

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Posted: 28 July 2013 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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This is where I wish the rules were a little more restrictive. Writing novels and writing short stories are two different skill sets, and someone who excels at one may not necessarily be good at the other. Writing a short story to prove your novel writing chops is a bit like winning a motocross race to qualify for the Indy 500.

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Posted: 28 July 2013 12:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Excerpts from a novel on the other hand, like the first couple of chapters, are a different story entirely ...

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Posted: 28 July 2013 01:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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True. So this is why I believe that the top five are required to submit a revision of their story (or chapters) with an overall outline of the novel they plan to write. This way, the judges can gauge over-all writing ability (the short story, or chapters), while comparing that with each writer’s storytelling ability (their novel idea in outline form). A hideously plotted outline paired with a superb short story at the level of the top five, will probably not make the winner’s cut.

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