So in planning for my last “Michael” novel I ran into a dilemma over POV. See because of the events in the story, I can’t have it be like the last three books - that is it CAN’T all be from Michael’s POV.
As I read through the previous iteration of “Saying No” the POV shifts a few times, to account for Michael being AWOL a few of the chapters as events occur. So my Experiment for this book is to try to write first-person, present-tense but from a limited POV.
Now I’ve done alternating chapters before between characters in third person, but this is first person, which gives an added dimension of difficulty, because a reader has to know who’s speaking within a few paragraphs in order to stave off confusion. Unlike third person, a first person POV offers less opportunity to introduce the speaker organically, because they’d be talking about themselves. I have some ideas that I’ll try to use but there are going to be moments where what I want to start the chapter with won’t readily introduce the speaker.
For now, and unless I can find a different way to do it more organically, I have put a subtitle of the speaker’s name (so far Michael and Haruka) just under the chapter title so readers have a way to know just who is in charge of the narration immediately.
It feels weird, because I know I’ve suggested to other writers not to do that… because it’s heavy handed and seems a bit of a crutch. (IE written well it should be obvious who is narrating.) However in this situation I can’t think of another way to consistently ensure the reader knows who is narrating.
Just musing aloud. But suggestions are welcome?
The last first person book I read was Our Wives Under the Sea, which is told through the pov of two different characters. Each chapter is titled with the name of who’s speaking, and I think that’s pretty common with all these multi-pov books out there now. Nothing wrong with it, and it sure makes it easier on the reader. ( ˆ◡ˆ)۶ ٩(˘◡˘ )
Even if you leave the names as titles for the chapters, not everyone reads the titles, so you would still need to lead-in as best you can.
So, hrm....The King's Three Sons
Chapter switch 1
Olbrecht’s mood turned sour as the door closed (scene description within action)
Chapter switch 2
Pawel mounted his horse (scene description within action)
Chapter switch 3
3rd paragraph: Olbrecht wanted to argue (emotion)
Chapter switch 4
They came up in a bountiful garden—much of the fruit was as big as people. “Are you still hungry, Isolde?”
“You can forget me calling you mother.” Pawel chuckled
Pawel spent most the next day (montage)
Chapter switch 6
Olbrecht woke half slumped over the cow in his sleep.
Chapter switch 7
When Anselm’s brothers went their separate ways, he wasn’t sure that he would see them again.
So, I cettainly name drop the main person we are following very quickly in 3rd person.
Gimmicks are a useful tool: one character wears glases, then fiddling with the glasses early on should cue the reader as to who the person is.
Thanks to you both for your input. I’m three chapters in and so far it seems to be working alright… Proof is in the feedback though!
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