adding a second POV

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Crystal
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adding a second POV

Post by Crystal » April 9th, 2010, 12:37 pm

I am slowly (emphasis on slowly) clicking along in my story. It's going well in my mind, for the most part, but I keep getting this nagging feeling that something is really missing. The more and more I think about it the more I think I have the answer. The investigation into the crime is missing. Easy enough to fix right? Just add a chapter, a page or two, about the frustration with the case and how it is likely to go unsolved. Sure sounds easy, until I tell you the entire story, up till now, is being told from the victims POV. She has very little, if any, insight into this investigation.

So here is what I'm wondering. Can I add a short chapter or 2, spread out in the story, from the detectives POV, without it seeming forced or out of place?
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Ermo
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Re: adding a second POV

Post by Ermo » April 9th, 2010, 1:21 pm

My opinion on that is if you're going to add a 2nd POV then you have to go "all in" so to speak. If you just add a chapter or two, then it's going to feel like a ploy to information dump. It's better if you create a second POV with a whole new set of motivations, conflicts, relationships, etc. that somehow weaves with the 1st POV.

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Robin
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Re: adding a second POV

Post by Robin » April 9th, 2010, 1:36 pm

Is the investigation necessary? can the story be told fully from the victim's perspective focusing on her emotion/frustration/pain and finally overcoming?
(sorry if this is off, I don't know the synopsis of your WIP)
I just would hate for it to be ruined by unnecessary information overload.
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Re: adding a second POV

Post by KappaP » April 9th, 2010, 2:19 pm

It depends, I think. Someone earlier used the phrase "all-in" and I think that's a very good way of putting it. You can't just throw in a few chapters from the perspective of a totally new character that I have no attachment too and expect me to go along with it. You know how important it is for a reader to empathize/understand a narrator, so you need to make the second point of view something that will extend-- in one way or another-- through the narrative. Otherwise it is a very transparent information dump.

Could you weave the detective's POV in through the whole story? How in depth are the details we need to know about the investigation (could the victim learn it from newspaper articles, or is it super specific details)? Does the detective have some other investment in the case that could be exploited to draw out the POV?
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polymath
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Re: adding a second POV

Post by polymath » April 9th, 2010, 3:58 pm

Crystal wrote:She has very little, if any, insight into this investigation.
Strikes me that's a question to ask, why the victim has very little insight into the investigation. It's credible a victim might not have insight into an investigation involving herself, but it's a bit of a stretch wanting for a credible reason. The drive for retribution is a strong human characteristic. Should she have a greater interest or a reason for not knowing or a resistance to knowing from a need to forget the horrors?

Another option besides a second viewpoint character is intercession chapters. Intercession chapters could be recounted in a news or police report style in an entirely different voice from the main narrative. For example, formated as investigation updates, excerpts from the police investigation, False Documents reporting progress of the investigation. The shorter and more dramatically timely the better, I would think.

If the progress of the investigation is critical to the story, it's critical to readers, even though it might not be critical to the victim. If the crime will go unsolved, that poses a challenge to resolution. How can an unsolved crime central to the main viewpoint character and the story be left unresolved and the story still have a satisfying resolution? At least the victim has to come to an accommodation with the crime, in some way transcend the crisis of identity the crime causes. A character transformation occurring due to the resolving crisis then might be that accommodation. The investigators perhaps don't need as much of an accommodation to an unsolved crime.
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Crystal
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Re: adding a second POV

Post by Crystal » April 9th, 2010, 4:47 pm

Thanks, all of you.

I agree with the all in theory. If he is going to add his thoughts it does need to be in some sort of totality. But I'd still like to keep it to a minimum.

Robin, I am starting to think that, yes, part of this investigation is very necessary in order to fulfill the story line.

KappaP, I am strongly considering that (newspaper and such) however during the time any of that would have been written or broadcast she was in the hospital in a coma. So I would have to do a library visit or something. However I could not get across that frustration of the detectives with this path.

Polly, part of the reason is, as mentioned above, she was in a coma. There are moments when her and the detective are together already in my story. I am certainly not saying the case is not going to be solved, just that it may really seem that way to the detective and to others that are involved. I have included a scene where she is reading letters that were written as updates to her progress in the hospital but am unsure of how to make the investigation more of an awareness to the reader.
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Bryan Russell/Ink
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Re: adding a second POV

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » April 9th, 2010, 6:42 pm

I think what Polymath is suggesting is not just to have her find and read a newspaper that provides some info... but rather a change in the narrative form. That is, a chapter that would simply be the actual newspaper article. It wouldn't really matter if she was in a coma or not. In a sense, it's more like the reader had picked up a paper and read about the case while the character was oblivious. It's not an entirely uncommon technique.
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polymath
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Re: adding a second POV

Post by polymath » April 10th, 2010, 10:36 am

Ink has gotten my main point, that a False Document offers an effective method for providing essential information. The purpose of a False Document is to enhance verisimilitude in an otherwise fictional work. For fictional purposes, besides providing information, a False Document is best when it artfully raises or answers suspense questions and builds rapport, empathy, and tension.

False Documents run a gamut of infinite possibilities: fictional; newspaper reports, business correspondence, police reports, novels, songs, poems, weather reports, diary entries, letters, Notices to Mariners, blog postings, an epitaph on a grave marker, roadway signs, any text or object containing internal-to-a-story factual but otherwise fictitious information. I've seen a bunch of them. It seems that many, if not most, published stories contain one or more False Documents.

In a crime story, for example, a detective's narrative section of a crime scene report on the circumstances of the crime might contain a character description, physical traits and/or personality traits (an effective method for characterizing a character), and raise a question about the veracity of the victim's report. Say the detective finds evidence planted by the perpetrator to mislead the detective into believing the victim might have self-inflicted her injuries. Bang. Suspense question artfully raised, is she or isn't she a victim of a crime. Say a lack of evidence pointing to forced entry suggests the victim knows the perpetrator. Bang. Suspense question. And so on.

I'm inclined toward preferring consistent reporting from False Documents. Once a false document is introduced as a distinct narrative voice from a distinct reporter's byline, it becomes second nature in subsequent installments. In other words, a second viewpoint distinct from a story's main viewpoint that nonetheless comes from a covert narrator's voice.

One challenge I see is a False Document might need setting up by a transition in a first-person narrative voice. However, in third person, a well-formated False Document speaks for itself--Res ipse loquitor--and merely needs to be set off from the main narrative.

One potent effect of a False Document is a power to build tension through Dramatic Irony, readers learn and know information a focal character doesn't. A focal character not knowing the information then raises supsense questions and builds empathy.
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Robin
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Re: adding a second POV

Post by Robin » April 10th, 2010, 10:16 pm

I like the idea of your MC finding a newspaper or something like that.
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Holly
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Re: adding a second POV

Post by Holly » April 11th, 2010, 10:01 am

Crystal wrote:I am slowly (emphasis on slowly) clicking along in my story. It's going well in my mind, for the most part, but I keep getting this nagging feeling that something is really missing. The more and more I think about it the more I think I have the answer. The investigation into the crime is missing. Easy enough to fix right? Just add a chapter, a page or two, about the frustration with the case and how it is likely to go unsolved. Sure sounds easy, until I tell you the entire story, up till now, is being told from the victims POV. She has very little, if any, insight into this investigation.

So here is what I'm wondering. Can I add a short chapter or 2, spread out in the story, from the detectives POV, without it seeming forced or out of place?
I would ask myself what would take place in reality. Would the detectives interview her? Give her updates over the phone? Give her updates over a cup of coffee? Show up on her doorstep with their little notebooks and tell her they have a few more questions? Would she call them from time to time and ask if they have any news for her, opening up a conversation?

Do you know any real detectives, on the job or retired? If so, I'd talk to them about their procedures. People are usually pleased to talk about their jobs.

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