I'm still a new (writing novels for 5.5 yrs) writer and am still learning the craft. I have 1 book E-Published and am working on 5 more. In my first book I used multiple POV's and my editor had me go back and rewrite the parts where I switched POV back into the main character's POV. My editor told me this just wasn't done. Since this was a sci- fi, I was able to come up with some creative changes and make my editor happy. I did feel that in some places the reader was short changed.
In some of my other WIP's I have multiple POV's and would like to keep them in. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone about their ideas, how to, and tips/hints in using multiple POV.
thanks in advance for your help
G W Pickle

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I read a bit of SF for group members and cannot remember ever seeing POV switches. Perhaps this is a SF convention. It certainly doesn't hold true for mystery.
I don't follow the "authorial voice" in this, Jon. You may have a third P. POV with a number of 1st P. chapters interspersed, and neither is the authorial voice. In crime fiction that happens quite frequently when the author wants to introduce the serial killer plotting the next one while the detectives are still trying to figure out what happened. This can add an element of danger and suspense.

I also have seen in-scene switches of POV by very good and well-known writers. It is invariably done because the writer wants reactions from both characters. It always stops me, while I go back to see whose POV I started with. I don't like it and think it's sloppy and self-indulgent work.
Switching gratuitously from third to first person drives me bonkers. It seems to be more and more and common, though.

I'm not crazy about present tense narration, either. Can't think a any excuse for it. (No, it is NOT more suspenseful. Trust me, I'm a reader.)
Yes, that's another change I was asked to make in my last novel. Present tense offers greater opportunities at poetic style and is therefore associated with literary fiction. High-brow stuff.
Very funny! I've seen present tense used once or twice in crime novels. I think the intention must have been immediacy. I see it much more often in lit fic.
I used it in a historical novel to create a dreamlike atmosphere. In any case, it wasn't acceptable to my agent (Nobody will buy present tense!), though my readers group, after initial resistence, came to like it very well. So I rewrote it in standard common 3rd. P. past tense. It still worked. Sort of. I had to get rid of a lot of pretty sentences and ended up with straight and fairly blunt narrative.
And, yes, I think we both like to discuss the craft. That involves frequent arguments. :)
It's apparently easier than sticking to third for some people. Gee, I feel like first today. But since he can't be present for the next scene I'll switch back to third for that. At least that's my impression. Very rarely have I seen it done because there was a real narrative reason for it.

As for authorial voices... didn't Roland Barthes declare us dead some years ago? Or was he just exaggerating?
I don't agree. I have seen this done in such a way that the 1st P. section introduced an alien and threatening voice and thus emphasized the difference and distance between the voices. Serial killers tend to be totally egocentric, so that works.

As for 3rd.: I work exclusively with close 3rd, which means I'm totally in that character and see the action from his POV. I do not do the camera bit. Consequently I've found that in those instances when I distance myself (in a separate chapter) for a bit of sarcastic commentary, my readers rebel. I once had to remove all authorial narrative from a novel.
Well, this perching on the shoulder somehow doesn't describe it. I have always referred to it as internalizing (getting into the character's head). In other words, I tell not only what the character does and says, but also what he thinks. It isn't omniscient, because he doesn't know everything and doesn't even know what is going on elsewhere or what other characters think. In fact, he is quite often more naive than the reader.
Though I'm so tired of egocentric serial killers it doesn't work for me on two counts!

Actually, I've been seeing more situations where the hero is given first person chapters and the bits where the hero can't be - watching the egocentric villain torture women, for example, which we would surely hate to miss - are in third.

I don't mind viewpoints moving from one character to another (though not in the same scene, generally) unless some characters are in first and others third. It's just one of my allergies. Someone like Giles Blunt does scenes with his hero in close third, for the most part, but then moves to other perspectives in other scenes, borrowing someone else's shoulder to perch on (to borrow Jon's metaphor). It's quite seamless and we don't lose anything by not having parts of the story told in the hero's first person voice. (He's far too busy trying to solve crimes, anyway.)
I disagree that the narrating voice can only be the author's. I think Faulkner prooved this many times over. In fact, I have read books that I consider excellent, but I am jarred by the fact that the author attributes a diction and figures of speech that cannot possibly be in the pov person's thoughts.

Examples are the opening of *Mystic River,* which, for me, otherwise would not be just an excellent, but a great book.

Another is some of the figures of speech juggled by a nearly illiterate characters in James Lee Burke's "The Tin Roof Blowdown." Such a character does not think sentences like: "He was also fairly certain he was going to die unless he did something to rid himself of the guilt that waited for him each dawn like a carrion bird perched on the foot of his bed," or "But no matter what he looked at, he could not escape the fear that was like a cancerous tuber rooted in his chest."

I believe that diction for each POV character must be true to the characters viewpoint. If the author wants to write poetic prose, he or she should find the correct words his character would use to say or think things in a way that character would think them.

That being said, in answer to the basic question:

I don't know the conventions of SF, but in the same book by JLB that I just mentioned, the author manages to mix first person and third person extremely well, although not perfectly, sometimes swithching from first to third person and back again in the middle of a section. Nearly all first person sections begin with I or We in the first sentence. The third-person section generally begins with the full name of the character from whose point of view the section is being told--until we have gotten throughly familiar with each character.

I have only read two books by Cormac McCarthy. In neither book do I detect a jarring figure of speech or word that does belong to the POV character.
JLB does something with POV I've never seen anyone else do in quite the same way. He doesn't exactly leave first person (we never have a chapter that says "Dave looked up at the clouds and thought the feathered trailers reminded him of the tail of a phantom ghost at full gallop." Okay, of course not, he's a good writer, if a trifle weather-obsessed - but we never see Dave from outside. Yet Dave is able to relate what happened, what people saw or thought, in situations that he never was part of, as if he somehow became privy to that moment of history. I don't know how he does it, but it works for me. I just don't think anyone else could get away with it.
Barbara, you say of Dave's POV: "Yet Dave is able to relate what happened, what people saw or thought, in situations that he never was part of, as if he somehow became privy to that moment of history."

This is why the section below has the words "although not perfectly" add the part about switching in mid-section.

"...in the same book by JLB that I just mentioned, the author manages to mix first person and third person extremely well, although not perfectly, sometimes swithching from first to third person and back again in the middle of a section."

In the middle of a few of his first person sections, I thought: "Hey, where the hell is Dave?" from whose point of view we are seeing this.


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