Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Point of View

Some people seem convinced the opening to New Beginning 293 is told from an omniscient point of view. There are many interpretations of "limited" POV, and mine is apparently more lenient than some. Here's the way I see it: Each scene of the story is related by someone who was present as the scene unfolded, and who remains present until the scene ends. That person can tell us anything he sees, hears, thinks, knows, or imagines. When a book's first scene opens in the middle of some action or dialogue, we don't know exactly what preceded it, and can't be sure what anyone knows. In the scene in question, can we be in Haruna's POV?

Raucous laughter pealed from the cockpit at shorter and shorter intervals as the Liberia Airways 747 knifed through the darkness seven miles above the Atlantic. Captain Ibrahim stood in the center of the flight deck with Fadi Haruna, both men hunched over almost-empty glasses of Scotch from the first-class cabinet.

I'm thinking Haruna, like everyone on the plane, knows it's night and they're over the Atlantic. He can hear how loud the laughter is. Is there reason to believe Haruna couldn't possibly know the plane's altitude? For all we know, the pilot just announced the altitude to the entire plane. Or the men in the cockpit were just discussing the altitude. Or Haruna can see the altimeter from where he's standing. Any reason to believe Haruna couldn't know where the Scotch came from?

We never hear the thoughts of any character other than Haruna. We never see anything he couldn't possibly see. We never learn anything he couldn't possibly know. A book with an omniscient POV could begin this way, but I'm not prepared to declare it omniscient based on the first sentence.

Haruna leaves the cockpit, but we stay there for the next scene (see the comments for the next 150 words), so we switch to the POV of one of the characters still in the cockpit.

46 comments:

ME said...

That's pretty thin ice you're skating on there. "When the door clicked shut behind him doesn't clue the reader to a POV shift. And if, in the 2nd 150 the POV is Tahir's,(who else would know about the blood in his ears?) how could he watch the captain behind him (and later the 3 sets of eyes watching the gauges)while trying to control a distressed jet? Perhaps the shifting POV contributed to my dis-connect with the characters?

Sounding bitchy but trying to be helpful!!

iago said...

Well yeah, but:

Raucous laughter pealed from the cockpit at shorter and shorter intervals...

That's an odd thing to think/say if you're currently inside the cockpit.

Captain Ibrahim stood in the center of the flight deck...

OK, Ibtahim's inside the cockpit and his is the first name mentioned so I'm going to default to thinking it's his POV.

Haruna...hoped the captain was less intoxicated than he appeared...

Ah. Only Haruna knows what Haruna is thinking, so it must be Haruna's POV (or omniscient, but there's nothing else to really suggest omniscient here).

Now the next section...

Tahir Agom scanned the instrument panel from the right seat. The sound of the airframe pushing through the thin air seemed unusually loud, but that might be the blood rushing in his ears.

This could be only from Tahir's POV.

Captain Ibrahim slammed into the back of Tahir’s seat and fell to his knees. He clawed his way to the left seat and twisted into it, fumbling with his harness.

So is Tahir watching all this happen, too?

The other three sets of eyes devoured the glowing gauges.

And does Tahir know the others' eyes are "devouring" the instruments?

Ack! I think many of us have been conditioned to be POV nazis andas a result some of the loseness here makes for discomfort and disorientation - something like being thrown around in an out of control airliner, perhaps?

Xenith said...

I don't think the height is a problem. I often have similar thoughts on a plane when I have some idea how high it is, and it's often included as part of a "welcome aboard"or a mid-air "we might be a bit late" speech or the display thingy showing progress on long flights. Not a big secret.

But, I can't see someone thinking "Raucous laughter pealed from the cockpit at shorter and shorter intervals" if they're inside the cockpit. "Filled the cockpit" maybe, although that's still stepping outside your head and taking in the context as if you were an outside observer. Some people do that.

There's this sentence also:
In the vertigo of the moonless night they knew only what the instruments told them: they were pointed at the ocean and going way too fast. So someone might think like that, but it feels more like an outside observer, rather than being inside someone's head.

If it's consistently done like that though, as a sort of loose third, than why is it a problem though?

sylvia said...

I found it slightly odd (or I suppose simply noticeable) that we shifted PoV so quickly, and to someone who was there for the first scene but had not been named.

Is there a reason why the previous 150 words are not from his PoV?

It's a very early shift and when I read the second excerpt, I actively went back to check the PoV from the main bit, so it did stick out to me. It wouldn't stop me reading on but it did strike me as odd enough to check back.

BuffySquirrel said...

Phrases like "both men" don't feel like third person limited. Also, if Haruna is the viewpoint character, I'd expect his name to appear first, not Ibrahim's. As you say, there's not a sufficient sample to make a decision, but those two aspects are, for me, indicative of omniscient rather than limited third.

(that said, POV is a vexed question, and I can sometimes read an entire story without ever making up my mind about it)

takoda said...

I assumed that this was sympathetic 3rd POV-in this case, sympathetic to Haruna. Is that what it's called. It's not pure omniscent, where you don't get inside any of the characters' heads.

I thought that the POV was effective, but I was confused about the number of people by the time I finished reading the selection.

I also assumed that since the author opened with a scene in the cockpit, that he/she must've done their research about it. I didn't second guess any of that.

I'm going to go look up the definitions of POV. This presents a good opportunity for a refresher.

Author, I really liked it. I'd love to be a beta reader. My info can be found on my profile.

Cheers,

Robin S. said...

I agree with buffy, that "POV is a vexed question, and I can sometimes read an entire story without ever making up my mind about it". And I have found that I don't really care if there's an omniscient narrator, or if POVs do an occasioanl slight (or more than slight) shift, as long as I like the writing, and find myself being wrapped up in the story.

I usually don't think about the "point of view" of the POV at all, unless the writing isn't allowing me inside.

writtenwyrdd said...

I read it as 3rd person, but a more distant variety than the 'standard' 3rd person limited. I believe that in recent years the trend to have no variance from one character's possible knowledge has made many of us POV nazis, and it's too bad. But, to me anyhow, some variance is okay. What I don't like is when the POV shifts from paragraph to paragraph and it's all 3rd person, limited. (Romance novels do this all the time. Often very badly.)

Evil Editor said...

The claim that this was omniscient was based on the first 150. I'll admit there are possible problems with the second 150. The door closing behind him doesn't indicate the scene change; the skipped line does (in this case the #).

I agree a person doesn't think raucous laughter pealed from the cockpit, as it's happening. So perhaps there are two forms of limited omniscient. One in which the story is narrated in real time by the characters, as it happens, and another one in which all the events of the novel have been completed, and someone (the author) is going around to all the people who played a part, and getting their take on the parts they were involved in. A detective piecing together the whole story, which is known to no one, by interviewing all witnesses.

This author/detective organizes what he learns, puts it in language that might be better writing than the individual characters could manage, recounting each scene from the POV of the one character whose version was most complete or compelling etc.

Haruna might tell the detective, "They were laughing so loud I was sure the passengers could hear it." The author writes, Laughter pealed from the cockpit.

Moving to part 2, if we're in real time, no it doesn't immediately register to Tahir that the captain was thrown into the back of his seat. But when the detective asks Tahir what happened after Haruna left the cockpit, Tahir reflects on the situation, realizes the other two men were strapped into their seats, while the captain was standing, realizes he felt something crash into the back of his seat and then saw the captain getting off the floor and into his seat. Perhaps to assuage the POV police, the piece should read that way: Tahir felt something bang into his seat and saw the captain sprawl... He looked around the cockpit; everyone was staring, wide-eyed, at the instrument panel...

While there's something to be said for real time, the people involved in the early scenes of a novel don't know what's happening around them is significant and worthy of a book. They don't stop and reflect on some incident from their childhood at just the right time. They don't pay attention to everything going on around them. More likely they're singing the words of a commercial jingle in their heads. Telling what happened after the fact allows them to reflect on what was happening and filter out the garbage.

I'm no final authority, but this makes sense to me. Any thoughts?

Kim said...

No offense, but thought I'd correct you on a little 'boo-boo' you've made in this entry.

"Each scene of the story is related by someone who was present as the scene unfolded, ..."

I believe 'the story is relayed by someone', would be correct.

iago said...

Any thoughts?

I think this phrase is too close to fit the theory:

Ibrahim was, well, a real ass, but there were worse things to be.

If it said Haruma thought Ibrahim was, well, a real ass... then, for me, it works because we do get a sense of relay through a third party...

Anonymous said...

relate vt. 1 to tell the story of; narrate.

BuffySquirrel said...

Whether Haruna told that story to the detective depends on what angle the jet hit the water ;).

Robin S. said...

One of the definitions of "relate" is "to narrate or to tell".

Beth said...

Takoda said: It's not pure omniscent, where you don't get inside any of the characters' heads.

Omniscient just means "all knowing," so while it can include information not known to any character, it can also move from head to head. I think the "objective narrator" is the POV that stays completely on the outside.

EE, the first two sentences:

<< Raucous laughter pealed from the cockpit at shorter and shorter intervals as the Liberia Airways 747 knifed through the darkness seven miles above the Atlantic. Captain Ibrahim stood in the center of the flight deck with Fadi Haruna, both men hunched over almost-empty glasses of Scotch from the first-class cabinet.>>

--are clearly from the POV of an outside observer, i.e, the omniscient narrator. A limited third-person POV means everything is filtered through the senses of one character. And Haruna is not outside the cockpit hearing the laughter pealing out, nor (as we find out shortly) is he really giving much thought to how the 747 looks from the outside--he's too busy trying to make his excuses and get out of the cockpit. And here:

Captain Ibrahim stood in the center of the flight deck with Fadi Haruna, both men hunched over almost-empty glasses of Scotch from the first-class cabinet.

--we're not seeing through Haruna's eyes; he wouldn't be thinking of himself and the pilot in terms of "both men."

However, eventually the POV does finally settle into his head, and for all I know, the rest of the book may be told entirely in limited-third. But the first few sentences are definitely written from outside Haruna's POV. Sure, he can know all those things, but it's clear he's not personally perceiving or thinking about them right then. And that's what limited-third is all about: living in the moment with the character, peering out through his eyes and listening in on his thoughts.

Anonymous said...

buzz, buzz

Evil Editor said...

I fully agree that Haruna doesn't think about these things as they're happening. But no one tells a story as it's happening. Haruna doesn't know he's involved in a story. Later, when it turns out the cockpit scene was significant, a reporter (or a psychic, if he's dead, Buffy) comes to him and says, tell me, from your limited 3rd-person POV, what happened, and I will write it down in my words. Haruna isn't the scene's author, he's its POV character. He tells the reporter, There was laughter, loud laughter, so loud I know it could be heard from the cabin, because I heard them laughing myself, twenty minutes earlier, before the crew invited me into the cockpit. The author decides Haruna's statement is wordy, and the novel will be 500,000 words if it's told in Haruna's words, so she/he condenses it. It's still what Haruna knew, but filtered.

Surely the author of a limited POV story isn't barred from declaring that a plane is a 747 simply because the POV character never thinks, This is a 747 I'm in.

--we're not seeing through Haruna's eyes; he wouldn't be thinking of himself and the pilot in terms of "both men."

How would he think of himself and the pilot? Keeping in mind that he's recounting the story in 3rd person, not first?

Anonymous said...

This is giving me a headache. Please make it stop.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a POV Nazi. I think proper POV is like an umpire in baseball -- if it's good, you never notice it much. There are lots of POV Nazis prowling these types of web sites but I think they'd find the same types of violations out there in the published world.

My rule of thumb is that if I'm confused about who is there, who is thinking what, "how did he know that?", there are legitimate POV problems. For me, this piece failed the test because I was confused in all of those ways.

Then again, EE says it's okay so it must be okay...

...dave conifer

Evil Editor said...

Then again, EE says it's okay so it must be okay...


Finally. A statement we can all agree with.

takoda said...

Hi, I spent the past hour searching for this post. It's from the SCBWI boards, by "AWR." I think it's really helpful. Quote:

You have several choices of point of view once you decide on third person narration. Someone earlier commented that it was called sympathetic third and absolute third. I've never heard those terms before, but here's how I teach it:

There are three basic points of view that a writer could employ when writing in third person.

1. Third person, panoramic: the point of view is like a camera; it only sees things and people as they appear--it pans the room; it does not know the inner thoughts (or dreams, hopes, desires, fears, etc.) of any character. Heminway used a panoramic point of view in many of his novels.

quickly written example:
John squinted as he looked at Lisa. His brow was wrinkled, and he was frowning.

Lisa was lying on the couch with her eyes closed. Her ankle was propped up on a bright red corduroy pillow. The ankle was swollen and red.

"Do you want to leave?" John asked. He closed his eyes, put the index fingers of each of his hands on his temples, and he slowly rubbed his head. He looked up again when she spoke.

"Not yet," Lisa said, her eyes still closed.


2. Third person, limited: the perspective is limited to the inner thoughts of one character; while the narrator can give you the inner thoughts of that one character, he cannot give you those of any other character; it is usually the protagonist who is chosen for the limited role, but not always.

example:
John's head hurt. He wanted to go home. Now.

He looked at Lisa and doubted he was going to get out of there anytime soon. Her foot was propped up on a bright red pillow the color of his mom's nail polish. Lisa's ankle was swollen and red, and it looked like it hurt.

"Do you want to leave?" John asked. He tried to recall what his mom would do when he had a headache, and, upon remembering, he began to rub his temples with his index fingers in a circular pattern, closing his eyes and trying to will away the pain. He looked up again when Lisa spoke.

"Not yet," Lisa said. She didn't even open her eyes.


3. Third person, omniscient: the narrator knows the inner thoughts and feelings of all characters

John's head hurt. He wanted to go home. Now.

He looked at Lisa and doubted he was going to get out of there anytime soon. Her foot was propped up on a bright red corduroy pillow the color of his mom's nail polish. Her ankle was swollen and red. It looked like it hurt.

"Do you want to leave?" John asked. He tried to recall what his mom would do when he had a headache, and upon remembering, he began to rub his temples with his index fingers in a circular pattern, closing his eyes and trying to will away the pain. He looked up again when she spoke.

"Not yet," Lisa said. She didn't even open her eyes. Her ankle hurt so much she was gritting her teeth and taking deep breaths to try to get through the pain. It was easier to keep her eyes closed. She didn't want to look at John, anyway.


Of course, writers will play with these three basic points of view, and many times the beauty is in the way that the rules are broken. Off the top of my head (and please forgive me if my memory is faulty), I think Ian McEwan changes pov or even narration in Atonement from Book I to Book II--it's decades later and much suffering has happened, so it is extremely appropriate to make a shift. And another neat example is Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest...The Big Chief is the first person narrator, but he pretends he is deaf and dumb, so he essentially writes himself out of the story, and for long segments it feels like a third person panoramic novel: he simply observes and records what happens as he sweeps. Also, a good example of third person panoramic is Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses, but again, the beauty is in where he "makes a mistake": he slips in limited narration when it really matters...near the end when John Grady has the one night with Alejandra before they say goodbye.

So, to answer your question about whether you should include your main character's thoughts, it depends on which point of view you are writing in. You can stay in third person panoramic, which is what you imply you've been doing, but your descriptive power must be pretty strong to carry the novel. (Pick up All the Pretty Horses if you've never read it; you'll see how he is able to engage you in the story without inner thoughts.)

Anyway, hope that helps.
End quote.


Cheers,

phoenix said...

Well, drat. I weighed in on this earlier, but I guess my brilliant insight was too blinding for blogger to handle.

To try to recap: I was fine with accepting this writing slice as being omniscient. An omniscient narrator is rarely objective. The narrator carefully selects the events to describe and from whose perspecive to describe and analyze them. That is how an omnisicient narrator leads the reader through a story. The reporter analogy doesn't quite work for me because reporters are supposed to be objective when relating a story. A narrator, in my mind, is a whole 'nother beast.

If a writer has to convince me of the POV, or I have to work too hard to figure it out, then someone isn't doing their job. Consistency in how POV is handled within any given work is all I ask. And for me, this piece worked as omniscient. Could it be told from strict 3rd-person limited? Yes, of course. But that's the author's decision.

what angle the jet hit the water -- Buffy, priceless. Hehe.

Beth said...

EE said: Haruna isn't the scene's author, he's its POV character. He tells the reporter, There was laughter, loud laughter, so loud I know it could be heard from the cabin, because I heard them laughing myself, twenty minutes earlier, before the crew invited me into the cockpit. The author decides Haruna's statement is wordy, and the novel will be 500,000 words if it's told in Haruna's words, so she/he condenses it. It's still what Haruna knew, but filtered.

Yes, that's exactly what an omniscient POV is. The story is filtered through a narrator who's not in the story. But plenty of fiction isn't written that way.

Limited (or some call it tight) third-person POV largely eliminates that filter. The story is told from within a character's head.

Now, using the omniscient, you can save time and space. You can take short cuts. You can summarize rather than show. (You can also show things the characters would never see.) But you sacrifice closeness and engagement with the main character(s).

You asked what I would do. Here's another version of the original opening. Mine is only 40 or so words longer, but I think most of the same information is there. The real difference is that the omniscient POV is eliminated; this is all Haruna's perceptions. (And it ain't polished--it's just a quick-and-dirty example.)
***

It was a good thing, Haruna reflected, that the other passengers couldn't see what passed for regulation behavior on the flight deck of Liberia Airlines Flight five-zero-nine. Though it wouldn't take long to find out, the way the crew kept dissolving into unprofessional peals of laughter. And the place smelled like a distillery.

Captain Ibrahim, clutching a shot glass full of scotch pilfered from the first-class cabinet, peered fondly at Haruna through malaria-yellowed eyes. "One more drink…Alhaji?"

Haruna didn't miss the stress on the honorific. Ibrahim was an ass, but it was kind of him to remember. "No, I can't. I have to get some sleep." Outside the luminiscent glow of the 747 cockpit, the sky was a black field of diamond stars. Below, the cold Atlantic, seven miles down. Ahead, home--that is, if Ibrahim could find the airport in his current state. Best to be optimistic. "I have to drive to my village as soon as we land."

Ibrahim grabbed his arm. "You'll have time to sleep when you're on the job."

The co-pilot snorted into his drink. Haruna held up his hand. "I can't. I--"

Ibrahim swayed, leering. "You'll have time to sleep when you're with your wife."

The crew apparently thought this hysterically funny. Haruna winced at the noise, and gently extricated himself from the captain's grasp. "I'll go back to my seat now, so you can...attend to your duties here. But don't forget your old friends when you're a big airline tycoon." And don't forget how to land this bloody bird…

He eased out the door. A heartbeat later, a resounding thud shook the aircraft.

Captain Ibrahim passing out?

No such luck.
***

Evil Editor said...

Yes, that's exactly what an omniscient POV is. The story is filtered through a narrator who's not in the story. But plenty of fiction isn't written that way.

Limited (or some call it tight) third-person POV largely eliminates that filter. The story is told from within a character's head.


But filtered by the author. We still get only those sights, sounds, thoughts the author allows us. A book that told us everything a character sees, hears and thinks would be unbearably boring.

As I said earlier, I'm no authority (is there one?) but I prefer to see the difference between omniscient and limited not as the difference between hearing the story from God or hearing it from Haruna; but between hearing the story from an author who knows everything that happened in the cockpit, and an author who knows everything Haruna knows about what happened in the cockpit.

Obviously there are more ways to look at it, as there are numerous ways to handle POV. The important point is to decide the POV rules for your book in advance and stick with them. If you're consistent, only the hardliners will come down on you. If you're in limited for thirty chapters and then slip, it may be jarring.

Beth said...

EE said: A book that told us everything a character sees, hears and thinks would be unbearably boring.

And horribly unfocused. But I don't think anyone was suggesting that a book be written that way.

Think of tight-third as being just like first-person, only the pronouns are different. A tight third-person POV only means that no information can be imparted that the POV character isn't seeing, thinking, or in some way experiencing at that moment. But that doesn't mean everything he sees, thinks, eperiences has to always be communicated. Good storytelling means controlling the amount and pace of information given to the reader.

Evil Editor said...

There are different levels of limited POV. That which is like 1st person is a very deep level.
That which is like a reporter interviewing the characters--but staying in their POV--is a very lenient level. There's room in between as well.

The rules of POV are not meant to shackle the author. The author has to have leeway in telling the story, no matter whose POV it comes from, or the final product will inevitably suffer.

Beth said...

EE, I agree, although when the writer starts straying into the reporter-telling-story technique, I think the POV ceases to be "limited." :) I tend to write a fairly tight third myself, so I have a certain prejudice towards it, I suppose. But certainly it's not the only way to do things.

Oh, and to the author:

Please forgive the liberties I took with your opening. It's not my habit to rewrite someone else's prose (I hate it when someone does that to mine; just tell me what's wrong and I'll find a way to fix it, thank you very much), but in this case, I was only trying to illustrate the difference between omni and limited third so I could win an argument with EE. But he's tricksy, so I don't think I did.

Robin S. said...

EE said -"There's room in between as well."

That's just it - there's room in between. Other than total misuse, there IS no right ro wrong on this one, at least not to me. There's no going to shcool and graduating with a degree in POV perfection.

Again, as long as it's done well, just like with the sentence structure fandango as in nonsense,not the dance) this is a matter of taste more than a matter of anal correctness (the POV version of political correctness).

This is coming a little too close for comfort, in my view, to those thrilling days of yesteryear when hall monitors ruled the earth, and everyone had to stay in line or face eternal damnation by the rule-dudes.

ME said...

This POV discussion has been one of the most edifying and robust topics to grace the pages of this blog, in recent months if not ever. I am impressed.

A hearty round of applause and a standing ovulation to EE for that 2nd post. :}><

As for the lack of septum-spew material, I'm sure pac or px or ? will make up for that soon.

Author,any final thoughts?

Evil Editor said...

The first person who ever wrote fiction in limited omniscient (or any other POV) was breaking the rules. Authors occasionally come up with new ways of telling stories. Whatever works, as long as it makes sense.

iago said...

Whatever works, as long as it makes sense.

...and it makes the writing the best it can possibly be, because the story always deserves that. If Raucous laughter filled the cockpit... makes the story even slightly better, and removes even one slight problem that some small percentage of readers might have over Raucous laughter pealed from the cockpit... it's worth it, isn't it? It's worth having at least taken the time to think about the difference it makes...

McKoala said...

Wow.

Anonymous said...

Good morning McKoala!

McKoala said...

Exactly, anonymous. You lot have been awful busy fretting while I've been sleeping.

AmyB said...

I believe a small but significant minority of readers are highly disoriented by POV shifts, and I happen to be one of them. I'm not a "POV Nazi," in that I'm not looking for POV problems for the sake of showing off and nitpicking. They really do confuse me and pull me out of the story.

I think it has something to do with the way I visualize scenes as I read. I quite literally put myself in a character's head, and whenever anything happens that requires a dramatic "camera shift," I am jolted out of the story and have to change my mental picture. If it happens a lot, I'll skim ahead to the next bit that seems to be stable. Theoretically, if it kept on happening, I'd probably stop reading, but that has actually never happened to me while reading a published novel. I find published stuff is pretty clean on POV.

I had trouble reading this opening because of all the camera shifts. For me, the POV stuff is not about the author following a set of arcane rules, but about the reader being able to follow a story easily and smoothly. If a story reads smoothly and my camera's not being yanked all over the place, I don't care if we're in omniscient or limited or whatever. But if I'm confused or disoriented, I'll start pointing out the POV issues. I did find this opening confusing and disorienting (though the writing was otherwise great and the setup intriguing).

Beth said...

Amyb, well put. I read the same way, from inside a character's head--unless a clear, omniscient POV is established right up front, one that takes you from outside to inside and back again smoothly and with no confusion. (Gone With the Wind would be a good example of that.) The "camera" shifts in this particular opening were abrupt and confusing, from my perspective. If the author wants to stick with the omniscient, fine--but it needs to be done without jarring the reader.

Beth said...

EE, if you consider the POV in the opening under discussion to be limited-third (if somewhat leniently interpreted), how would you define omniscient?

Evil Editor said...

In my (lenient) view, the limited POV author can tell us, when writing a scene, anything the POV character saw, knew, thought, or heard. The omniscient author can tell us anything any character saw, knew, thought, or heard. He could even tell us if a tree falling in the woods when no one was around made a sound.

phoenix said...

But see, if we look at the first 300 words here, there are a couple of POV shifts. Now, one could argue (leniently) that the first 150 words are all from Haruna's POV. But then the second 150 are (leniently) from Tahir's POV. Then the third 150 may be from Ibrahim's POV, the next 150 from a passenger's.

So would we call this POV arc "multiple 3rd-person limited POVs" or "omniscient?" Shoot, we could deconstruct this down to the sentence level and describe POV sentence by sentence rather than short scene by short scene.

I think we're all really just talking semantics here, right? As long as the writing is clear and consistent, who cares? That consistency, though, should be established early on.

Evil Editor said...

Shifting to a new point of view is necessary; Haruna is no longer in the room. This "shift" is designated by a skipped line (marked with a #), indicating a new scene.

As Haruna leaves the first scene so soon, perhaps it's best to put both scenes in Tahir's POV. No longer can Haruna think that the captain's an ass and possibly too drunk, but maybe this is obvious to everyone in the cockpit and everyone reading the book anyway.

jrmosher said...

Let's look what we have here: drunkenness and a plane going into the ocean. Chaos on top of chaos. Addled minds on a night-flight into terror.

Maybe the POV shifts are deliberately jarring. Maybe this author is brilliantly capturing the choppy nature of what's happening to this flight, filtered through the alcohol-soaked neurons of those who may or may not have survived and may or may not be able to remember or accurately relate what they saw / heard / thought / felt ... by purposely breaking POV rules to fit the scene. Absolutely brilliant!

On the other hand, maybe not.

[ JRM ]

Beth said...

As Haruna leaves the first scene so soon, perhaps it's best to put both scenes in Tahir's POV.

Good suggestion. Not the least because the Haruna scene feels incomplete--there's no real arc to it. It establishes setting and that's about it.

As to your definition of omniscient, thanks for posting that. I see now why we were in disagreement on this issue. I have a very different perspective on limited-third POV.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter what anyone calls a certain POV or how they see it--it's how it's used in the story.

phoenix said...

Ooh, this was a fun debate! I have a suggestion for the next one, when and if we all recover from this one.

Stylistic sentence fragments.

Frags -- even those well-written ones where the writer is in complete control -- seem to raise the wrath and red pens of alpha critiquers who thoughtlessly force verbs into every naked frag they see, unable to rest until each sentence under their command can be properly diagrammed.

Opposing them are writers who, with great love and delight, place periods wantonly, shamelessly even, abandoning themselves to the cadence of the words and the staccato peal of a sentence string that sings.

Might be *fun* to see into which camps the minions fall -- and why.

Robin S. said...

I like phoenix's ideas, both to continue these discussions, and her choice of first topic.

Can we do it?

Evil Editor said...

Sure, why not? In a while.

Anonymous said...

Hope my colon's healed up by then.

ME