Thursday, August 25, 2011

Points of View in Young Adult--Help!

For those of you who have been working in the Young Adult genre this is probably a no brainer. For a newbie like me, it's a head scratching puzzlement.

In my present YA project, I have put the antagonist's point of view in alternating chapters for effect as well as clarity. However, a couple of writers new to YA and I are wondering if more than one point of view is acceptable. We know that it is frowned on in Middle Grade and younger.

1. How many points of view would you suggest for a young adult novel?

2. Would you change points of view within a chapter?

3. If so, would you separate the paragraphs with *** or an extra space?

Any advice or guidance you can share with us would be soooo welcome!

Note:  Third Writers' Platform-Building Campaign
Just joined this today and am looking forward with excitement to participating. Go on over to Rachel Harrie's blog and see if you would like to join.


52 comments:

  1. I have seen novels where two or three POVs are acceptable. I would only stick with a couple though. I have a WIP where I've got two 1st person POV's which alternate each chapter.

    I think it's best to separate POV's by chapter not just spaces or *** just so the reader doesn't get confused as to who is speaking.

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  2. It's just considered difficult to pull off successfully. If it's done well, and it's necessary to the story (not just a device) then it's fine. Personally I prefer alternating chapters, but I've seen it done both ways. Also, I'd limit it to two if it were me. HOWEVER, I'd recommend Cassandra Clare for multiple POV, also Maggie Stiefvater's SHIVER series as a well done example of first person multiple POV. Hope that helps!

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  3. Cheree, thanks for you input about different chapters. It is more defined that way.

    Lisa, thanks for pointing out it should be more than a device! also thanks for the reading suggestions!

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  4. I agree with the others on maybe no more than two and alternating by chapter. Although I did critique a novel where there were about four POVs but alternating chapters and and I didn't have a hard time with it. In fact, I liked that story a lot. :)

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  5. Hi Catherine:

    I think you will have no problems with the two POVs in YA. All that matters is that it works. Glad to be Write Campaigning with a fellow Nancy Drew lover!

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  6. I'm in your campaign group! Can't wait to get to know you! I think if you're writing in 3rd person, it's fine to alternate POV's within the chapter, as long as you put ***. I think if it' 1st person, you should probaby keep it chapter by chapter. But that's just my two cents! : )

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  7. I ditto the rest. I think as long as it works no one really cares which it is.

    Welcome to the campaign! :-)

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  8. Just wanted to drop in and say "Hello!" from a fellow campaigner!

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  9. Hello from another fellow campaigner! I'd agree with the idea of separating the POVs by chapter. Heather Davis dos this very well in _The Clearing_, in which she alternates chapters by first person perspective and third person perspective.

    Looking forward to getting to know you on the campaign trail!

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  10. While I think separate chapters makes the most sense, I just read a manuscript (unpublished) in which the writer adds snippets--never more than a few paragraphs--from another character at the ends of some chapters (separated by asterisks). It works surprisingly well.

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  11. Hello, fellow campaigners, thanks for stopping by. Am looking forward to the fun we're going to have.

    Melissa, at the end of a chapter separated by asterisks wouldn't be confusing at all for the reader. Thanks for letting me know.

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  12. Kimberly, I don't think I could handle writing four different viewpoints in different chapters--I'd be a basket case trying to keep them all straight! Reading them, I'd do okay :)

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  13. Multiple POVs are difficult, but they can certainly be done in YA. The trick is to make the voices distinct, make sure each character has his/her own journey, and to make readers equally invested in each of the characters. Easy, right? :-)

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  14. Hi Catherine. I wrote a novel with two POVs (male and female). I'm still revising it, but I liked doing it.
    I would do alternating chapters. I've read quite a few books that have done this and it makes more sense to me than putting in the same chapter. It can get confusing if you do. Definitely make the voices different and try to stay with two POVs. I've read books (adult) with more and it sometimes gets confusing.
    Not sure if you read these or if they interest you, but here are a couple of books off the top of my head.

    Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
    The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
    Both of these are paranormal.

    Also, Cracked by K.M. Walton, which will be out in January. This one is contemporary.

    Hope this helps.

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  15. Hey Catherine. I have a wip right now that has many different pov's going on. They get a separate chapter each (they don't like to share). My book, however, is fantasy so you often can get away with more pov's. But no matter how many pov's that you have going the book should have a "main character" that they get attached to. Although I have many pov's you are still rooting for the main character. Anyway, I stopped by to check out your blog and snoop around a bit. :D Look forward to campaigning with you. :)

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  16. My students can handle multiple points of view if they're handled well. I would also suggest limiting it to two. This is easier for the reader and for the writer to balance. As a new writer, don't complicate your life by trying to balance too many either. Young people are capable of more than many adults give them credit for.

    Look forward to "campaigning" together.

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  17. As long as the voices are distinct, I wouldn't say more than three or four; if there are going to be multiple POVs, two would of course be the easiest.

    I'd put in either extra space or an asterisk-style divider. I've seen both, and as long as it doesn't look like space between paragraphs, reader should be able to tell there's a change.

    Fellow Campaigner here. :)

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  18. Anna, having each character have his own journey is a good thing to keep in mind. Thanks!

    Christine, thanks for the book suggestions, I will check them out.

    Karen, look forward to campaigning with you! Thanks for stopping by.

    Golden Eagle, great to be campaigning with you, too.

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  19. Hey! It's great to meet a fellow campaigner and group member. :D

    Personally, I think you can do just as many PoVs as you want, as long as you can keep the YA voice. In my WIP, I have three different PoVs, two from opposing sides of a war and one in the neutral.

    I wouldn't change PoVs within the chapter, but that's just me. And if you did do that, I think you'd need a little more than a space or asterisks, because that would make me think of just a scene change. For example, in the Bartimaeus Trilogy, Jonathan Stroud sometimes switched PoVs in a chapter, but he'd put the character's name at the beginning of every view change.

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  20. I personally don't like multiple POVs because I find it takes me out of the story. But alternating chapters would work. I find it easier when it's done with 3rd POV.

    The key is having the voices be distinct which is hard.

    But I say go for it if you think it's the best way to tell the story.

    Good luck!

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  21. Hi Catherine I am stopping by to say hello from the campaign. It is very nice to meet you and I look forward to learning more about your work.
    I think 2 but no more than 3 POV"s works fine...

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  22. Dawn, I think you are right that we don't give kids enough credit for handling more than we think they can.
    Francesca and Karen, making sure each character has a distinct voice would be key to making multiple POV's successful.

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  23. Hi fellow campaigner. Just popping by to say hi!

    Denise

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  24. Denise, I'm so glad you did. Nice to meet you.

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  25. Hello from a fellow campaigner! It's nice to meet you.

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  26. Interesting I had not heard this before. I recently read The Chaos Walking Trilogy (see my most recent post)in which there are 2 and then 3 POVs as the 2 MCs get separated and then the aliens also get a voice, so yes in YA I guess it is allowed. Maybe they consider it harder for younger children to grasp than teenage ones?

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  27. I read an awesome book, The Murderer's Daughters. Don't know if it's classified as YA but the two main characters were sisters, beginning with their youth. Two points of view, alternating chapters.

    I'd say as long as the reader isn't confused, you can do whatever works. There are really no hard and fast rules.
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

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  28. Ditto what most others are saying - multiple POVs if kept to two or three can work if they get to tell their story in a chapter. I LOVE Three Willows by Ann Brashares - take a look at it for a really successful story told from multiple POVs.

    Looking forward to being in the YA group with you!

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  29. Cynthia, Madeline, Shelley, great to meet you and looking forward to campaigning :)

    Ann, thanks for the book title, I'm going to check it out.

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  30. Hi, I'm a fellow YA campaigner! I like multiple POVs, as long as each voice is distinct.

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  31. Hi, Jennifer, glad to meet you. Thanks for stopping by.

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  32. Hi, Catherine. I'm a fellow campaigner stopping by.

    LINGER/FOREVER/INCARCERON are three YA books that have multiple POV's. The norm seems to be one POV per chapter. My current WIP in three POV's all told in first person. If you do decide to do POV changes within chapters, make sure to use a scene break.

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  33. Eliza, happy to meet you! Thanks for the scene break tip and stopping by and following :)

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  34. Hi, nice to meet you! I'm not a campaigner (this time--I did the Crusade last time and it was fun) but I hopped over from Kimberly's blog. She was advertising the wondrousness of you and your blog.

    I agree with the others here; multiple viewpoints are okay--but switch with each chapter (do alternating chapters). Or make it VERY clear you're switching, with asterisks or scene breaks. I think one POV is the best, however. Mostly cuz it's the clearest. You have to ask yourself, do you HAVE to have all these POVs? do they add anything? do they all have character arcs? can their "story" be implied or told through their actions as seen by the main character, instead? Often multiple viewpoints just clutter up a novel unnecessarily.

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  35. Carol, thanks for coming over and following. It's great to meet you!

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  36. Hullo fellow campaigner! We're in the same group. Nice to meet you!

    I agree with the others on the POV shifts. :P

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  37. Hi, nice to meet you, too, Alleged Author! Looking forward to campaigning :)

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  38. For the most part, I write in the first person POV in my YA novels. BUT, my current WIP I am writing in 3rd person and I have two MC's. Usually I switch POV's with each chapter, not always though. And when I do switch POV's in a chapter, I do use the ***.

    It can be done, but it needs to be a smooth transition and it must be clear.

    Popping over from Rach's campaign to say hi. We're not in the same group, but most of the people in my group I already know. So I thought I'd pop around and meet some new faces.

    Nice to meet you.

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  39. Angela, how nice of you to pop over! It's so nice to meet new writers. Love Rach's campaign idea.

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  40. Looks like you've gotten some great advice and great examples. I, too, am working on a YA paranormal with the POV in first person for the 2 main characters, alternating chapters.

    Stopping by from the campaign. I am so excited and thrilled to meet so many wonderful new and established writers.

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  41. Angela, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I'm thrilled to meet all the campaigners, too.

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  42. Wow, fascinating question and comments! I am all a dither and so glad to be in your Campaign group :)!

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  43. Looks like you have lots of great advice here, so I'm not sure I can add much. Except that multiple POV isn't banned in MG either - see Rick Riordan - but you have to do it well.

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  44. Hi from another Campaigner from your YA group!

    I really enjoy reading novels with multiple POVs. I've never tried it with my own work, but you've gotten some really useful advice. I might have to try it one of these days! :)

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  45. Jodi, I'm happy to be in your group, too.

    Susan, glad to know that :)

    Jess, It's good to meet you, thanks for stopping by.

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  46. I did this with the very first MG I wrote, and the general consensus of my beta readers was that this was confusing and ended up complicating the story in a not-very-good way. My current MG has two alternating POVs: a boy and his mother (light on the mother and heavy on the boy) and I'm just hoping I can pull it off.

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  47. Mary, I know if anyone can pull it off, you can. I'm glad to see you're doing it in MG.

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  48. Hello from a fellow campaigner. Great question and I'm just gonna sit back and read all the comments.

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  49. Just a heads up, I have set up a Google Reader with all of YA Group 10 in it to help organize all of our blogs - I am missing 2 people (technical issues I am trouble shooting) but hope to get them added in soon! Link is:

    http://www.google.com/reader/shared/user%2F08181744977128699830%2Flabel%2FYA%20Group%2010

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  50. Shelley, just got back from looking at it and I love it! What a great idea--this is so new to me organizing blogs like that. It's a good way to see them all in one place.

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