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Multiple 1st POVs: Can it Work?
Posted: Saturday, March 19, 2011 4:53 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 244

What say you?  I'm working on a short story that I've been tinkering with for years and suddenly, the male MC (it's a romance) demanded to share his side of things from his POV.  Problem is, I'm writing it in 1st.  (Which is a first for me, really, so it's kind of fun.)

But I'm worried this might not work too well in such a short format.  Have you experimented with something like this?  Or is it absolutely taboo?

Posted: Saturday, March 19, 2011 5:16 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 156

It's not absolutely taboo. In romance, the more common technique would be to use 2 POVs in a close third. But why not experiment with a short. The biggest problem with 2 1st POVs is going to be that you need to nail the voice perfectly in each POV so the reader knows just by the voice which POV they're in.
Posted: Saturday, March 19, 2011 5:32 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 244

I think that's why I'm beginning to like short stories so much. The freedom you have yet with all the constraints of the limited wordage. Great exercises for craft, really.

Thanks for the input. We'll see how it goes. I may look back at it and realize that third would really be the better POV to use.
Posted: Thursday, March 24, 2011 3:18 AM
Joined: 3/17/2011
Posts: 18

Write two stories, one from the female and then the second from males perspective. That way, each story is dedicated to a singular PoV and will not confuse the readers on who the real story is about...

Alexander Hollins
Posted: Thursday, March 24, 2011 7:43 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 412

what thoth said. You can either have one or the other, or intersperse them.

Posted: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 10:28 PM
Joined: 3/9/2011
Posts: 16

It can work. Shiver is a young adult novel that does two main characters with both told in first person. The only problem is sometimes I got a little confused about whose head I was in and the boy character in particular came off a bit too feminine sometimes. Though each chapter did have the character's name so the reader would know whose view they were in.

I still prefer third person but that's more of a personal preference than anything else.
Robert C Roman
Posted: Sunday, April 3, 2011 2:52 AM
Joined: 3/12/2011
Posts: 376

Joyce did it after a fashion in Ulysses. But that's not much of a recommendation for it IMHO. I think what Thoth and Alex said might work. Write both stories separately (so you can keep the voice 'pure', then copypasta to interweave them.
Posted: Sunday, April 3, 2011 6:55 AM
Joined: 3/4/2011
Posts: 15

Anything can be done in writing if it's done well, and serves the story, IMO. If it serves your story to bring in two viewpoints, then don't even hesitate. It doesn't matter if it's normally done or not, and frankly, it's an advantage if it's rarely done, because that will make your work more individual and original. The hard part isn't really deciding whether or not to do two first-person POVs in a short story; it's writing a good story, period.

I disagree with the idea of writing two separate stories and cut-pasting like that would somehow make a cohesive whole. It'd be redundant, is what it would be, with two characters covering the exact same territory for no purpose. That happens in third-person perspective swaps in romance novels way too much, and almost always gets tedious, FWIW.

Figure out what this story would gain from two perspectives, and what it would lose. Decide the POV(s) to write it from based on what serves the theme and plot best. That's my suggestion.

(Just FYI, it has been done before, both successfully and unsuccessfully. There are lot of examples of alernating POVs in Young Adult fiction right now. For many, the technique doesn't work. For others, it feels right. Trust your own judgement and do what feels right.)
Robert C Roman
Posted: Sunday, April 3, 2011 8:29 PM
Joined: 3/12/2011
Posts: 376

@Audry - *agree* on the tedium created by retelling the exact same events from multiple POVs. That's not *quite* what I had in mind, but I can see how you might get to that point.

What I was thinking was writing both and then interweaving and *cropping*. That way the only times you get 'he said / she said' scenes are where it informs the reader about the characters. Or is funny. Either works, and neither is boring if done right.

Also, you usually get *completely* different surrounding scenes in each of those scenes. Forex, *she* jut got done with a long, frustrating day and is looking to be pampered, whereas *he* just had a triumphant day and wants to be rewarded. The following scene would make either one look like a complete jerk if you only used one POV, but the interweaving can let you show that both of them are good people, just in a bad situation. Important if you're trying to keop both of them in the reader's good graces.
Posted: Saturday, April 9, 2011 2:24 AM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 222

I think it can potentially work *IF* you have a way of making certain it is flat-out-totally-clear on which person is which. This means two drastically different people presenting the povs with a -very- different way of thinking and seeing the world.

I'm not the greatest fan of first, but I won't immediately dump a book because it is in first. I WILL stop reading a novel if it shifts to a new first person POV without a really, really good reason and a -fantastic- hook into the second person's POV.

I think the challenge is placing *two* stellar hooks rather than one (or more than two hooks if you try more than two first person POVS.)

I am going to have to go 'It all depends on the skill of the author' for this one.

Good luck with it!
Posted: Saturday, April 9, 2011 2:56 AM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 244

Thanks, everyone. The story has kind of fallen by the wayside in favor of a different story that is more interesting. I may come back to it some day. We'll see.

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