Re: Weird Narrative Perspective shifts

#1
My book is told from a first person, past tense perspective but things sometimes get a little weird.  If you're currently reading my book then what's posted hasn't caught up to this and we're going to get into some spoiler country.  Be forewarned.

Spoiler :

So in the book, the MC is a robot artificer that has the ability to create other robot bodies that he can connect to via proxy and operate remotely.  When the narrative switches to follow one of the proxies I was originally keeping with the first person, but then I liked the idea of switching to a third person perspective to maintain the idea that we were viewing the action remotely; rather than directly through our MC's eyes.


For the most part I think this works well, though I have a fondness for "thinking out loud" in the narrative and that's where things get odd.  Take for example this snippet where Shrapnel is the name of the proxy and Prime is the name of the MC:
Quote:
The sound of Shrapnel’s wings beating feverishly to keep his relatively heavy body in the air was deafening.  The next time Prime built something like this, he’d have to figure out a better method.


I had thought about continuing to use "I" in stead of "Prime" but it felt like it would get even more confusing with the POV shifts and thought I should fully commit to a single POV within a narrative block.

Has anyone else dealt with this sort of thing where your book is first person but then shifts to 3rd from time to time, and if so, how do you deal with references to the MC?  My guess is that the conventional wisdom here would be to remove all "inner thoughts" from the 3rd person blocks... :/


Re: Weird Narrative Perspective shifts

#2
 I think you'll have just as many responses to this as there are perspectives to be had. We each approach the concept of POV as readers in our own way, so what follows is my personal assessment of your presentation based on what I like as a reader, and what I try to do as an author.

For me, switching POV is common when you have more than one character. Game of Thrones is notorious for this. One of my books also toggles between two people. In mine, I only change POVs with chapter breaks. In other books, there may only be a line break - but there is still a break.

Because I'm so used to the POV switch also being a character switch, my initial impression is that I would soon become confused and disassociate the main character's "I", with a different reference of "Prime" and think them two different characters - when in point of fact, if I understand your conundrum correctly, they're the same character in different bodies

It's an interesting problem to have. My personal desire as a reader, I think, would be to maintain the first-person perspective with other reminders about the main character being in a different body. Observations about how clumsy this new construction is compared to his normal one, or how dexterous the fingers of this automaton are and how maybe he should upgrade his own once he's back in it (again, out of context here, just examples).

Regardless, I think as long as you're very clear to the reader that "I" is also "Prime", we may become accustomed to the switches and eventually find the flow in it all.

Good question, made me think.

Re: Weird Narrative Perspective shifts

#3
To the extent that sense impressions are being relayed by the same narrator I would use the same label. Perfectly fine to have a different name for the drone and describe the drone's actions using its name, but if the protagonist who is referred to in first person throughout the book is musing about what he, the protagonist, is going to do with his next drone, I would use "I" for it.

In general I put clarity as a very high priority, so I feel that asking the reader to remember that sometimes the protagonist is "I" and sometimes the protagonist is "Prime" is adding unnecessary cognitive load. In the scenario you've described I don't see the change adding much besides the confusion.

If you're doing actual PoV shifts, my personal preference is to only ever have one character get the first person "I" while everybody else gets third person limited. This would be the flip side of your issue: asking the reader to remember that "I" refers to whoever I designated at the beginning of the chapter adds cognitive load.

It's also just general good practice to crack down hard on any accidental PoV drift in your writing. It's an underrated factor that can irritate readers into dropping a work or judging it unfavorably.

Re: Weird Narrative Perspective shifts

#4

Drew Wrote: Because I'm so used to the POV switch also being a character switch, my initial impression is that I would soon become confused and disassociate the main character's "I", with a different reference of "Prime" and think them two different characters - when in point of fact, if I understand your conundrum correctly, they're the same character in different bodies.


Yup, this is exactly right. Same character, multiple bodies; hence the dilemma of properly handling narrative lol

jacobk Wrote: To the extent that sense impressions are being relayed by the same narrator I would use the same label. Perfectly fine to have a different name for the drone and describe the drone's actions using its name, but if the protagonist who is referred to in first person throughout the book is musing about what he, the protagonist, is going to do with his next drone, I would use "I" for it.


Thanks for the assist guys, I think you both are on the mark here and it makes more sense to stick with "I" even when we've gone "pseudo 3rd person" here as we follow a drone/proxy body.

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