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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Camera Lens POV

You know the POV I'm talking about? The kind that doesn't really get into the emotions of anyone, just 'shows' the scene. It's a distant POV.

I'm trying to find information about it, and not coming up with much. Wikipedia says:

The 'third-person objective' mode tells a story without describing any character's thoughts, opinions, or feelings; instead it gives an objective, unbiased point of view. This point of view can be described as a "fly on the wall" or "camera lens" approach that can only record the observable actions, but does not interpret these actions or relay what thoughts are going through the minds of the characters.

When is this POV appropriate? I've used it before. I used it in a prologue once, and then the rest of the story flipped to third-person POV.

Would it be appropriate to throw into a novel for one chapter? For example, let's say that you have an MC, and the book is entirely in her POV. She has a group of friends she runs around with. In the middle of the book, the MC and her friends get separated, leaving the MC by herself why the friends rescue her. (Yeah, this is a pretty specific example.) Would it be okay to have one chapter in this camera lens POV, showing what the friends are doing to rescue the MC?

Thoughts? Experiences?

11 comments:

Kate said...

My opinion: If you just do it the one time, it will seem like author convenience. If it's a viewpoint you change to throughout your book, then I think it could work.

Jenni Bailey said...

I agree with Kate. Just that once, a sudden switch that never happens again, would be a distraction for me.

M. Gray said...

I was shocked when author Sol Stein said he used a first person POV in one tiny scene against a third person POV throughout the book. And his worked. Sold millions. You've heard me talk about the book The Power of Point of View. I thought that book had a lot of neat insights but it's hard to say what works and what doesn't. Maybe try it and ask your excellent editor. :) I think experimentation is always a good idea.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

@M Gray--it's actually my editor's idea, LOL. I'm the one who's hesitant. My thoughts are more like Kate's and Jenni's.

But your words encourage me. Maybe I'll give it a shot. the only other option is to cut the scene. (It was in another character's POV but we're cutting that POV from the book.)

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I think it can work if you do it more than this one incident. Is your MC's POV 1st or 3rd? If it's 1st, it would be harder to make this work, but if it's 3rd it could. IF, like Kate says, it doesn't come across as author convenience. Why not keep it from the MC's POV? That might be even more interesting, to have the rescue from the POV of the one being rescued.

Jordan said...

I was going to suggest maybe having those camera-lens chapters periodically throughout the book. But if you're actually eliminating all the others, that might not work.

I just had to add two POV charactera halfway through a WIP because there was so much information happening off screen that was important. Yeah, it'd all be revealed in the end, but . . . half the book was already talking! I have to see something happen already! (And now I have to go back and add them in in the first half.)

Here's a counter example to Sol Stein's: In the Lord of the Rings, even though he actually had POV characters there and could have shown what happened at the battle of Isengard, he opted for the surprise of the other POV characters arriving to a flooded, vanquished castle.

One minor note here: technically, camera lens would be a type of third-person POV, as the Wikipedia entry notes. It's a distant ("objective") third, as opposed to a deeper or closer third (third limited or possibly deep POV).

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

@Karen: the book actually has three 3rd person POVs that is uses. Four was too many...yet this one scene, like Jordan said about her book, has some really good action in it. After the friends rescue the MC, yeah, they can talk about it ("We did this and this is and it was really cool!") but it won't be the same as seeing it happen.

@Jordan: Yes, that's the POV I'm talking about. We won't be in anyone's head for this scene. I think that's why my editor wants to use it, so it's not just hopping into one mor character's head.

Solvang Sherrie said...

I could see using that perspective in the beginning, but not in the middle. Although, who knows. If the book already has multiple POVs, it might not be as distracting as it sounds.

BTW, love the new photo :)

Aaron and Emily said...

I had the thoughts your first friend did - that it would be weird if it just happened once. Unless perhaps MC for some reason did not have coherent thoughts - like if she was unconscious or dealing with short term memory loss (i am not joking about the short term memory loss, as this happened to me for a day and still cannot recall what happened that day of my life, except through my husband's POV). Otherwise, I agree, in reading it, I would think "hey the author did that just in one chapter?"

Emailman said...

I must admit, it would be very tempting to try it seeing you already have the thumbs up by your editor. It's not something that anyone would do normally off their own back. If I was you, I would at least have a play to see if it could work, you have nothing to loose. Then once you've done it, use your own instincts. You will know in your own head if it works or not. Trust your own instincts and go with them. It's your book after all and your say is the most important.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

I agree with you, Kurt. That's what I've decided to do. I'll give it a go, see how it feels, and then the scene might end up getting cut. Sad!

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