Perspective Changes: How Many is too Many?


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Thread: Perspective Changes: How Many is too Many?

  1. #1

    Perspective Changes: How Many is too Many?

    I've realized that I often write at least one perspective change per 1,000 words. I know this has to be too many, but I don't know what I should aim for instead.

  2. #2
    Dune switches POV every other line.

    That book went on to inspire a little-known flick called Star Wars.

    If you're writing in third omniscient, you're fine.
    Currently working on: The Huntsmage

    "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." - Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

  3. #3
    I am, but I kind of hover over characters as if I am writing in limited 3rd every so often.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by EternalGreen View Post
    I am, but I kind of hover over characters as if I am writing in limited 3rd every so often.
    What's your genre?
    Currently working on: The Huntsmage

    "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." - Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

  5. #5
    Light horror, I guess. Gothic possibly, but I wouldn't give myself that much credit.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by EternalGreen View Post
    Light horror, I guess. Gothic possibly, but I wouldn't give myself that much credit.
    Hmm. I'd try to clamp down on POV changes in short stories, and definitely limit it in horror to up the tension.
    Currently working on: The Huntsmage

    "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." - Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Joker View Post
    Dune switches POV every other line.

    That book went on to inspire a little-known flick called Star Wars.

    If you're writing in third omniscient, you're fine.
    Maybe, but the book wasn't as well known as the movies. In script, you don't get into people's heads.

    I did a lot of research on this, before I started to write my novel. There is a ton of opinions on the internet, but the concensus was to be careful of head hopping. So it would depend on the depth of your point of view. If you want to have a lot of internal thoughts, they recommend limiting the number of characters that have a POV and to have a clear break of some sort, like scene or chapter when you switch point of view.

    But in my mind it is still a debatable subject. Great idea for a thread!
    Sometimes in the waves of change we find our new direction...
    - unknown

  8. #8
    I'm considering large roman numerals to separate the story into bits. I've had people tell me my breaks weren't strong enough.

  9. #9
    Personally I love POV changes. And playing around with different POVs. I guess too many can get jarring, and if it's done poorly, well...

    But like, while I personally enjoyed the crap out of Dune, I know a lot of people that didn't. Said it was too hard to get into, and while none of these people specifically said "I didn't like the way the POV jumped around a lot," that kind of thing can make a story difficult to get into. I'm not saying you shouldn't do it. I just think it's important to be aware of what can happen when it goes wrong.
    "A word after a word after a word is power."
    -Margaret Atwood

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by EternalGreen View Post
    I've realized that I often write at least one perspective change per 1,000 words. I know this has to be too many, but I don't know what I should aim for instead.
    Frequent POV switches can cause a problem known as 'head hopping'.

    My rule of thumb is one POV per scene or chapter. Any more than that, I find you run the risk of pissing people off by interrupting the flow.

    As much as multi-POV can bring depth, a thousand words isn't very long to spend with a character and you might find that doing that frequently is going to cause people to lose interest because they aren't being given adequate time to invest in any one POV before you upset the apple cart.

    It might also depend on how many characters you are switching between? If it's just a few -- say you have a scene with a husband and wife arguing -- then that's probably okay. If you're doing it with a larger cast, possibly not.

    Now, that is a rule of thumb. This is probably more of a question to pose to other people who you allow to read your work. It's subjective and can be difficult to gauge on your own. I would have them read it first and then subtly try to find out if they found it to be a problem -- if they mention it without prompt, it's definitely a problem.

    A thousand words might be okay. Personally, I despised Dune and part of that was because of the way it was written.

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