multiple first person POV or third person POV

by chynna

Hi. I'm currently stuck right now of what POV to use. My original idea was like a diary of events that happened with the couple (the main characters), narrated by their group of friends. It's a love story actually and written in past tense, so technically, these characters already knew everything that happened, what they're doing is just like they're compiling all the events..

Which POV would be best to use here? I'm quite having a problem since I love the personalized feel of the first person, but since we're talking about a group of friends here, I'm afraid I might confuse the readers on who's narrating..unless I use the pronoun "we"?
Or would it be possible to mix the first and third person?
Or do you have any suggestions on how I can write it in multiple first person POV effectively?

Thank you~

Answer: It sounds like what you want to write is an Epistolary novel, which is a novel that consists of a series of letters, often written back and forth between a small circle of people. Each letter tells part of the story.

This is a multiple POV technique, and you would identify the writer of each letter so the reader knows whose POV they are in at any given time. The writer of each letter will naturally use first person when referring to themselves and second person when addressing the person they're writing to. They will also switch to third person when telling the story of a past event.

These friends could be writing to each other in order to piece together the history of this relationship, with each person filling someone in on events that only they know about.

The classic novel of this type is Clarissa, an 18th century book by Samuel Richardson about an abduction of a young upper class woman.

The challenge is that, in addition to the history of the relationship, you will create the sequence in which various people write to each other to make their contribution - so the process of piecing together the past becomes a storyline in itself.

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thanks for the reply
by: chynna

Hi..first of all, thank you so much for the reply..
I really do appreciate it! ^_^

Well..I'm not quite sure if it is an Epistolary novel. These group of friends were all involved as the story unfolded, and in the end, they sat down, shared and organized all of what had happened and wrote it in a form of a novel which they will be giving to the couple at the end of the story, more of like in the epilogue part. So basically, they're not writing to each other, but more of the typical first person narration, it's just that in my story's case, they're many, maybe about three to four people who'll be narrating it.
So what would be the best approach here?

by: Glen

So perhaps the difference is that each character is writing part of the manuscript or interjecting their voice at various points?

It's a variation on Epistolary, the difference being that they are all writing to the same readers (the couple).

The important thing is that you make clear to the reader each time you switch from one person's voice to the next, so the reader always knows who is narrating. In this case, it makes perfect sense that each character would identify themselves at the start of their contribution.

one more question..
by: chynna

Hi!! Thanks so much for your reply..
It's much more clearer now..

Yes, interjecting their voices at various points and they are writing, or perhaps, narrating the entire manuscript.. ^.^

Is it allowed to switch a POV inside a chapter? For example, person A is the one speaking in the first scene, then there's the scene break, then the next scene would be person B speaking..

And, can you suggest some examples on how I can switch from one character's POV to the other smoothly, aside from writing their names in the headings or so..?

by: Glen

You can switch within a chapter, after a break, but it is generally better to switch only at chapter breaks to make it very clear to the reader.

It's all about not confusing the reader and making sure the reader always knows whose head they are in.

You can do this via a few obvious facts and a distinct change in style/voice when you begin a new POV. But don't shy away from actually naming the speaker. Being too subtle can lead to confusion.

This is especially important when you are using first person and the POV character's name does not immediately appear in the narrative.

by: chynna

thanks a lot! It's much much more clear now.. :)

oh, by the way..I know this one's a bit obvious, but I just wanna make sure.. Is it okay if I address the narrators with the pronoun "I" if needed, so long as it's clear who's the person talking? or should it be "we" like on behalf of the group, something like that? Or perhaps, can it be mixed?

by: Glen

Again, think about making it clear to the reader who is narrating. Third person is actually easier with multiple narrators because you always use the character's name, usually in the first sentence of their passage.

If you use "I," you need to find other ways to make the reader understand right away that someone else is now narrating.

I"m not sure "we" clarifies the situation. It may actually make it less clear.

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