Re: Single scene, Third person POV, multiple characters - how do I do it?

#1
Hello, I need some help with a scene I'm writing for my novel. My story uses third-person omniscient. There are two MCs and some side characters that are equally important for the story.
Problem - I have a scene where a wedding happens. Many of my pov characters are present there and I need to tell what's going on in their head. I have been told before that I can't use multiple povs in the same scene. But I keep imagining this scene from a movie viewer's perspective, who'd have enough knowledge about the characters to decipher their feelings. Can someone please take a look at the scene below and share your views?

My personal opinion is  - It's creative writing. I don't need to abide by any rules as long as it makes sense to the readers. 

So how does the below scene look? Please share your thoughts.


Code:
Susheel Sharma was overjoyed. His wayward daughter was finally getting married. That too with with a rich man like Rajeev Kapoor, who also happened to be the father of her baby. How Mahek had achieved this feat, he had no idea. He attended the wedding with his wife and son. It was a small affair, but he made sure to invite all his relatives and friends. Everyone needed to know he was a partner with Shaurya Khanna and his daughter was getting married to Rajeev Kapoor.
His heart skipped a beat when he saw Mahek. She was his favorite daughter. He had missed her. He was happy that the family was back together again. It was not the same as before, that would take some time. But at least the ties were on the mend.

Mohit was happy to be back with his sisters. He had missed them, had realized their place in his life. Not only that, but both were comfortably settled now. One married to a rich man, another on the way to be rich herself. It was only prudent to stay in good books with them.

Mahek watched her sister as she performed the wedding rituals. She looked so serene, happy. She hoped she stayed that way considering the price she was going to pay. Her face clouded at the thought as her eyes turned haunted.

Vicki observed his friend with surprise. He had never realized she was so beautiful. His brother was there too, but he seemed to be trying to keep away from her. His eyes followed her everywhere, but he kept his distance. There was certainly something amiss.

Shaurya was bored. He hated weddings, and this one was a particularly sordid affair. The bride looked happy enough to be getting married to the man of her dreams. That would soon change when she realizes he was forced to marry her. The groom looked as if he was getting punished. This was a marriage destined to be doomed.

He suppressed a yawn. He could not wait to get this over. This wedding was just a necessary formality, just a requirement he needed to fulfill. To his annoyance, he had to watch Mahek in all her wedding fineries. He knew she was beautiful, but today she looked something else. His pulse raised every time he looked at her. She had kept her expression stern, had ignored him the whole evening. His frown deepened as he watched her talking and laughing with other people. Young men hovered around her like flies near a honeypot. He had a strong urge to squat them away and hide her somewhere. Oh...how he wished this wretched evening to be over.

*****

Re: Single scene, Third person POV, multiple characters - how do I do it?

#2
I think here, whilst what you're hoping to achieve is possible, your way above needs a rewrite- the issue being, this just feels like a list of people's feelings. Each paragraph starts with the character's name and then just simply tells me something. Or maybe notes for actors in a script on how to play the part-

Mohit was happy to be back with his sisters. He had missed them, had realized their place in his life. Not only that, but both were comfortably settled now. One married to a rich man, another on the way to be rich herself. It was only prudent to stay in good books with them


In an event like a wedding, and in a film, the 'camera'/viewpoint will flick to different parts of action. In a film, we might switch viewpoint midway through a conversation, that keeps the action going. 
In your descriptive list, nothings happening and the story has halted almost. For example, you've not shown us how Shaurya is bored. There's no dialogue, he's not doing anything.
Could they be moaning to someone, or sat on their phone playing a game, inferring that he's bored? 

I hope this helps you to re-examine it and inject something into it. 
Edit- some other thoughts:
I have a lot of characters in my series and I enjoy writing those big set pieces where they all come together and I too think of the scenes, whether they're meetings or battles as if they were on film to help me consider what happens first, but I'm always mindful that the main action (e.g. battle) needs to continuously be happening, so the viewpoint picks up at different moments. Like by the time I'm at the 3rd character, I'm not going to see them at the start of the battle, it would've moved on by the time I'm with them. 
And I always try to make sure I come back to their viewpoint to show development of their story.

Re: Single scene, Third person POV, multiple characters - how do I do it?

#3
The "rule" is there for a reason. I hate reading stuff like this. Such frequent head-hopping breaks my immersion. Consider displaying their thoughts and feelings in some other way, instead of just writing "X thought this, Y thought that, Z felt this". Use dialogue, facial expressions, actions, or stuff like that. That way it will be more interesting to read, as well. (They can talk before the wedding, or after, it doesn't have to be in that exact moment.)

Also, you say "like in a movie", but in a movie we wouldn't be getting the internal-thoughts of each character. We might see their facial expressions, and who's crying and who isn't, but that's it. 

Also be aware that the reader simply doesn't care about some of these things. By default, we don't care for internal thoughts of characters other than the MC. Since we have way less connection with them

Re: Single scene, Third person POV, multiple characters - how do I do it?

#4

EnhancedBeing Wrote: I think here, whilst what you're hoping to achieve is possible, your way above needs a rewrite- the issue being, this just feels like a list of people's feelings. Each paragraph starts with the character's name and then just simply tells me something. Or maybe notes for actors in a script on how to play the part-

Mohit was happy to be back with his sisters. He had missed them, had realized their place in his life. Not only that, but both were comfortably settled now. One married to a rich man, another on the way to be rich herself. It was only prudent to stay in good books with them


In an event like a wedding, and in a film, the 'camera'/viewpoint will flick to different parts of action. In a film, we might switch viewpoint midway through a conversation, that keeps the action going. 
In your descriptive list, nothings happening and the story has halted almost. For example, you've not shown us how Shaurya is bored. There's no dialogue, he's not doing anything.
Could they be moaning to someone, or sat on their phone playing a game, inferring that he's bored? 

I hope this helps you to re-examine it and inject something into it. 
Edit- some other thoughts:
I have a lot of characters in my series and I enjoy writing those big set pieces where they all come together and I too think of the scenes, whether they're meetings or battles as if they were on film to help me consider what happens first, but I'm always mindful that the main action (e.g. battle) needs to continuously be happening, so the viewpoint picks up at different moments. Like by the time I'm at the 3rd character, I'm not going to see them at the start of the battle, it would've moved on by the time I'm with them. 
And I always try to make sure I come back to their viewpoint to show development of their story.



Hmm...I agree. I have thought about it too. I'll add some action to it to make it more 'happening'. 
Thank you for your input, I was wondering if I'd have to write separate tiny scenes for each of them :)

Edit - Your 'battle' example is great, helped clear my thoughts. Thanks so much again :)

Re: Single scene, Third person POV, multiple characters - how do I do it?

#5

Ararara Wrote: The "rule" is there for a reason. I hate reading stuff like this. Such frequent head-hopping breaks my immersion. Consider displaying their thoughts and feelings in some other way, instead of just writing "X thought this, Y thought that, Z felt this". Use dialogue, facial expressions, actions, or stuff like that. That way it will be more interesting to read, as well. (They can talk before the wedding, or after, it doesn't have to be in that exact moment.)

Also, you say "like in a movie", but in a movie we wouldn't be getting the internal-thoughts of each character. We might see their facial expressions, and who's crying and who isn't, but that's it. 

Also be aware that the reader simply doesn't care about some of these things. By default, we don't care for internal thoughts of characters other than the MC. Since we have way less connection with them



Thanks for your input :) Yes, I'm going to rewrite the scene adding more actions and dialogue. 
I might disagree with some of your points about rules and such though. Every writer has a unique style and how they present their story should be left to them. Writers build their readership based on their style. Those who like them stick around. Those who don't, leave. Fair enough. 

However, I am just a novice. You can ignore my opinion. I write scenes for characters that merit a scene. The scene I have quoted is a culmination of many past scenes, that is why I chose to 'list' the feelings as my readers would already have a disdain for many of these characters.

Thanks for your input again. It helps to know the rules to circumvent them successfully :)

Re: Single scene, Third person POV, multiple characters - how do I do it?

#6
Mm, I have no real advice if you REALLY want to keep this writing style, personally I'm not much of a fan. What I would do is lengthen the povs and then use dividers, or some other way to immediately signify that there is a change in pov. For example, the first sentence of Maheks' pov could very well be part of Mohits pov and that is confusing, as the reader can only understand that a poc change has ocurred halfway through a sentence. The first sentence of Maheks' pov could very well just be one of Mohits' observations. 

IDK, maybe color code? That'd run into other issues though, since it'd be hard to color the text so that it works both in the sites light and dark mode, plus some people are colorblind. 

Re: Single scene, Third person POV, multiple characters - how do I do it?

#7

Haust Wrote: Mm, I have no real advice if you REALLY want to keep this writing style, personally I'm not much of a fan. What I would do is lengthen the povs and then use dividers, or some other way to immediately signify that there is a change in pov. For example, the first sentence of Maheks' pov could very well be part of Mohits pov and that is confusing, as the reader can only understand that a poc change has ocurred halfway through a sentence. The first sentence of Maheks' pov could very well just be one of Mohits' observations. 

IDK, maybe color code? That'd run into other issues though, since it'd be hard to color the text so that it works both in the sites light and dark mode, plus some people are colorblind.

Thank you for your input :)

I seem to have confused many, this is not the writing style I employ for all my scenes. It's just this particular scene that's loaded with so many characters and povs. I myself am not comfortable with the way I wrote it, so I turned to the forum :)

I have now decided to write it from Shaurya's perspective as he has the most to say in the scene. And he is mean enough for me to vent on the others through him :) 
I'm not sure about the colour coding though, it would just mean the writing can't sustain on its own. So for now, I'll try to improve the text.

Thank you so much again! It's so nice to be part of an active forum :)

Re: Single scene, Third person POV, multiple characters - how do I do it?

#8
OntoSomethingGood Wrote: My story uses third-person omniscient.


Note that what you use is usually not called omniscient but limited omniscient or more often simply limited and often seen as the opposite of omniscient perspective within the third-person perspective.

While the difference can sometimes be a bit hard to catch, their biggest effect is that combining limited with multiple perspectives is very hard.

OntoSomethingGood Wrote: My personal opinion is  - It's creative writing. I don't need to abide by any rules as long as it makes sense to the readers.


Don't be discouraged in this belief by failing in this situation. You should always look at what makes sense to the readers. Everything are just guidelines or suggestions on the way there.


OntoSomethingGood Wrote: Susheel Sharma was overjoyed. His wayward daughter was finally getting married. That too with with a rich man like Rajeev Kapoor, who also happened to be the father of her baby. How Mahek had achieved this feat, he had no idea. He attended the wedding with his wife and son. It was a small affair, but he made sure to invite all his relatives and friends. Everyone needed to know he was a partner with Shaurya Khanna and his daughter was getting married to Rajeev Kapoor.
His heart skipped a beat when he saw Mahek. She was his favorite daughter. He had missed her. He was happy that the family was back together again. It was not the same as before, that would take some time. But at least the ties were on the mend.


The difference between limited and omniscient is the diving into the heads of the characters here. Most sentences could also be omniscient. The ones that are specific to the 'limited' perspective is where the narrator presents opinions of the character, in this case: "It was a small affair,", "Everyone needed to know" amd "It was not the same as before, that would take some time. But at least the ties were on the mend.".

OntoSomethingGood Wrote: Mohit was happy to be back with his sisters. He had missed them, had realized their place in his life. Not only that, but both were comfortably settled now. One married to a rich man, another on the way to be rich herself. It was only prudent to stay in good books with them.


Here the head hopping happens. The narrator jumps into another head and presents the opinions of another character without speaking about that character but another: "Not only that, but both were comfortably settled now. One married to a rich man, another on the way to be rich herself. It was only prudent to stay in good books with them."

What makes it hard for the reader to follow here is that you jump from the inside of one head to the outside. There are two short sentences that could also be 'objective' omniscient perspective and then you again delve into the limited (or in this case one could call it 'subjective omniscient') perspective.

That's quite too quick a transition. The reader's unconscious comprehension of the text cannot follow here, so the conscious part of the readers mind is occupied with it, making readers react quite badly to it.

You have multiple ways to go forward here:

1) only one PoV
As you said, limit it to one PoV here. This might lose information about the other PoVs here, though it might be possible to get them back.

2) Write it in pure omniscient.

Make sure every sentence is about a character. Don't tell from his perspective but 'tell' his perspective. Check that every sentence has at least some he/his in leading roles in it. This can feel a bit awkward and might need a bit of practice to get right. It's also worth to note that if  the rest of your story is 'limited' then this increased contrast can increase that awkwardness, making it harder to get it right.

3) Do the head hopping but do it well.

This needs some very good planing (or much talent) to get right. If the reader can tell what you do, you did it wrong. You need to trick them into not consciously realizing what you do. One way to do that is to give the unconscious parts of the reader's mind enough time and hints about what is happening.

As told above, many sentences can be both omniscient and limited. So before switching heads transition slowly to objective omniscient mode. Once you are on objective omniscient mode, you can switch the character and then slowly transition from objective omniscient to subjective limited. And then transition back to objective omniscient mode.

Even better is if you can even enlarge the perspective in between, making the switching between characters easier. Like you could embed all the different PoVs into a physical description. Like describing how they sit there, letting the omniscient narrator look at them in sequence, describing their appearance, transitioning (e.g. via describing behavior via the reasons why they appear here as they do) to an omniscient description of their PoV, transitioning further into limited and transitioning back before describing the next participants.

The hard part is too balancing it well. Too much explicit telling might bore some readers, while too little might lose you others. Or even the same reader might need more time to transition while tired but be able to cope less with too much redundant information when wide awake.

4) Combine into overdrive.

Once the other possibilities got too boring for you, you could also try some more complicated things. Like stacking the narrator perspectives. Like when you try to put it into a single PoV-limited and add the other perspectives by letting that PoV look at the other characters and see/wonder/think about their perspectives. This can be tried in a show-not-tell kind of way. Or by making that character something like a sub-narrator in a almost-but-not-quite-omniscient perspective. Done right you might even shift the perspectives conception-like down the rabbit hole here. Though I'd only suggest that as a pure writing exercise and nothing to throw at readers until you have no more problems with the other possibilities.

Re: Single scene, Third person POV, multiple characters - how do I do it?

#9

whoever Wrote:
OntoSomethingGood Wrote: My story uses third-person omniscient.


Note that what you use is usually not called omniscient but limited omniscient or more often simply limited and often seen as the opposite of omniscient perspective within the third-person perspective.

While the difference can sometimes be a bit hard to catch, their biggest effect is that combining limited with multiple perspectives is very hard.

OntoSomethingGood Wrote: My personal opinion is  - It's creative writing. I don't need to abide by any rules as long as it makes sense to the readers.


Don't be discouraged in this belief by failing in this situation. You should always look at what makes sense to the readers. Everything are just guidelines or suggestions on the way there.


OntoSomethingGood Wrote: Susheel Sharma was overjoyed. His wayward daughter was finally getting married. That too with with a rich man like Rajeev Kapoor, who also happened to be the father of her baby. How Mahek had achieved this feat, he had no idea. He attended the wedding with his wife and son. It was a small affair, but he made sure to invite all his relatives and friends. Everyone needed to know he was a partner with Shaurya Khanna and his daughter was getting married to Rajeev Kapoor.
His heart skipped a beat when he saw Mahek. She was his favorite daughter. He had missed her. He was happy that the family was back together again. It was not the same as before, that would take some time. But at least the ties were on the mend.


The difference between limited and omniscient is the diving into the heads of the characters here. Most sentences could also be omniscient. The ones that are specific to the 'limited' perspective is where the narrator presents opinions of the character, in this case: "It was a small affair,", "Everyone needed to know" amd "It was not the same as before, that would take some time. But at least the ties were on the mend.".

OntoSomethingGood Wrote: Mohit was happy to be back with his sisters. He had missed them, had realized their place in his life. Not only that, but both were comfortably settled now. One married to a rich man, another on the way to be rich herself. It was only prudent to stay in good books with them.


Here the head hopping happens. The narrator jumps into another head and presents the opinions of another character without speaking about that character but another: "Not only that, but both were comfortably settled now. One married to a rich man, another on the way to be rich herself. It was only prudent to stay in good books with them."

What makes it hard for the reader to follow here is that you jump from the inside of one head to the outside. There are two short sentences that could also be 'objective' omniscient perspective and then you again delve into the limited (or in this case one could call it 'subjective omniscient') perspective.

That's quite too quick a transition. The reader's unconscious comprehension of the text cannot follow here, so the conscious part of the readers mind is occupied with it, making readers react quite badly to it.

You have multiple ways to go forward here:

1) only one PoV
As you said, limit it to one PoV here. This might lose information about the other PoVs here, though it might be possible to get them back.

2) Write it in pure omniscient.

Make sure every sentence is about a character. Don't tell from his perspective but 'tell' his perspective. Check that every sentence has at least some he/his in leading roles in it. This can feel a bit awkward and might need a bit of practice to get right. It's also worth to note that if  the rest of your story is 'limited' then this increased contrast can increase that awkwardness, making it harder to get it right.

3) Do the head hopping but do it well.

This needs some very good planing (or much talent) to get right. If the reader can tell what you do, you did it wrong. You need to trick them into not consciously realizing what you do. One way to do that is to give the unconscious parts of the reader's mind enough time and hints about what is happening.

As told above, many sentences can be both omniscient and limited. So before switching heads transition slowly to objective omniscient mode. Once you are on objective omniscient mode, you can switch the character and then slowly transition from objective omniscient to subjective limited. And then transition back to objective omniscient mode.

Even better is if you can even enlarge the perspective in between, making the switching between characters easier. Like you could embed all the different PoVs into a physical description. Like describing how they sit there, letting the omniscient narrator look at them in sequence, describing their appearance, transitioning (e.g. via describing behavior via the reasons why they appear here as they do) to an omniscient description of their PoV, transitioning further into limited and transitioning back before describing the next participants.

The hard part is too balancing it well. Too much explicit telling might bore some readers, while too little might lose you others. Or even the same reader might need more time to transition while tired but be able to cope less with too much redundant information when wide awake.

4) Combine into overdrive.

Once the other possibilities got too boring for you, you could also try some more complicated things. Like stacking the narrator perspectives. Like when you try to put it into a single PoV-limited and add the other perspectives by letting that PoV look at the other characters and see/wonder/think about their perspectives. This can be tried in a show-not-tell kind of way. Or by making that character something like a sub-narrator in a almost-but-not-quite-omniscient perspective. Done right you might even shift the perspectives conception-like down the rabbit hole here. Though I'd only suggest that as a pure writing exercise and nothing to throw at readers until you have no more problems with the other possibilities.

 Thank you so much for the reply :) It's so helpful to see this detailed explanation, I can almost see the flaws in my writing now. Evidently, I need to analyze my own work, and also try out a few things to see what works best for me and my readers (poor souls, apologies in advance if any of you are here :)))

Thank you so much again. This forum is the best thing that could've happened to me :))

Re: Single scene, Third person POV, multiple characters - how do I do it?

#10
I know you said you've decided to switch to 3rd person limited, but I wanted to pop up and say the difference between omniscience and 3rd person limited is all in the voice (which is the sense that there's a specific person speaking all the words of your story). Think of 3rd person limited as a style of narration in which the author writes everything through a character, rather than writing about all the characters (which is omniscient).

So a trick to see if you're writing in 3rd person limited or 3rd person omniscient is to look for instances where you speak through the character. An easy way to tell is by looking for how you portray each character's opinions. Are you indicating they belong to a particular character (omniscient; talking about the characters) or are they stated as facts (limited; talking through a specific character). Take this as an example:

Quote:Shaurya was bored. He hated weddings, and this one was a particularly sordid affair. The bride looked happy enough to be getting married to the man of her dreams. That would soon change when she realizes he was forced to marry her. The groom looked as if he was getting punished. This was a marriage destined to be doomed.


We can tell it's in 3rd person limited because when you say "this one was a particularly sordid affair" and "this was a marriage destined to be doomed," you're stating Shaurya's opinion as if it were facts. This wedding is sordid. This marriage is doomed. In 3rd person limited, the reader knows you're talking through the character, so they correctly interpret them as opinions.

To switch into omniscient, you need to adopt a more neutral approach and make sure you're not accidentally portraying his thoughts as facts.

Quote:Shaurya was bored; he hated weddings, and viewed this one with contempt. Even though [The bride] smiled and kept looking [Groom], he stood with stooped shoulders and downcast eyes. To Shaurya, [groom] looked like he was being punished, which he didn't think boded well for the longevity of the marriage. [Groom] had been forced to marry her, and both men knew [the bride's] happiness wouldn't last once she learned the truth.


I'm not very experienced with omniscient yet, so excuse the clunkyness (and that I stick a little too closely to Shaurya's perspective). But in this version, every opinion is clearly highlighted as an opinion. The only thing that's stated as fact was the bride and groom's body language because they're physical movements that can't be misinterpreted. I don't quite make the most out of the omniscient perspective, but that's more due to my inexperience with it, rather than the technique being wrong.

Re: Single scene, Third person POV, multiple characters - how do I do it?

#11

JenifryConan Wrote: I know you said you've decided to switch to 3rd person limited, but I wanted to pop up and say the difference between omniscience and 3rd person limited is all in the voice (which is the sense that there's a specific person speaking all the words of your story). Think of 3rd person limited as a style of narration in which the author writes everything through a character, rather than writing about all the characters (which is omniscient).

So a trick to see if you're writing in 3rd person limited or 3rd person omniscient is to look for instances where you speak through the character. An easy way to tell is by looking for how you portray each character's opinions. Are you indicating they belong to a particular character (omniscient; talking about the characters) or are they stated as facts (limited; talking through a specific character). Take this as an example:

Quote:Shaurya was bored. He hated weddings, and this one was a particularly sordid affair. The bride looked happy enough to be getting married to the man of her dreams. That would soon change when she realizes he was forced to marry her. The groom looked as if he was getting punished. This was a marriage destined to be doomed.


We can tell it's in 3rd person limited because when you say "this one was a particularly sordid affair" and "this was a marriage destined to be doomed," you're stating Shaurya's opinion as if it were facts. This wedding is sordid. This marriage is doomed. In 3rd person limited, the reader knows you're talking through the character, so they correctly interpret them as opinions.

To switch into omniscient, you need to adopt a more neutral approach and make sure you're not accidentally portraying his thoughts as facts.

Quote:Shaurya was bored; he hated weddings, and viewed this one with contempt. Even though [The bride] smiled and kept looking [Groom], he stood with stooped shoulders and downcast eyes. To Shaurya, [groom] looked like he was being punished, which he didn't think boded well for the longevity of the marriage. [Groom] had been forced to marry her, and both men knew [the bride's] happiness wouldn't last once she learned the truth.


I'm not very experienced with omniscient yet, so excuse the clunkyness (and that I stick a little too closely to Shaurya's perspective). But in this version, every opinion is clearly highlighted as an opinion. The only thing that's stated as fact was the bride and groom's body language because they're physical movements that can't be misinterpreted. I don't quite make the most out of the omniscient perspective, but that's more due to my inexperience with it, rather than the technique being wrong.



Thanks so much for this :)
Your comparison had kind of cleared my thoughts. I have a habit of getting into my character's head, I can't keep away. I can't keep aloof as an omniscient voice, then I wouldn't have any reason writing about them :)) 
My bad! I just need to work on myself :))

Thanks again for your help :)

Re: Single scene, Third person POV, multiple characters - how do I do it?

#12
Thank you so much everyone for reading through and taking the time to reply :))
This discussion has been really helpful, I feel I'd be able to rectify the mistakes I've been making for so long.

So to summarize, and keeping it simple for the starters, my book can be written in a third-person, with a combination of limited and omniscient POVs as below - 

1. I can use either a limited or an omniscient pov when writing a scene with a single character
2. In a scene with multiple characters, I need to stick to third-person omniscient and watch out for not slipping into each of their head. I can achieve this by using he/his/she/her/they/their in every sentence. (This is hard for me as I just have to get into their heads :(( So more work for me to get out of bad habit.)

But I feel much clearer now that I know my weakness. Thanks again for the excellent advice. It's such a privilege to be a part of this community :)) 


Re: Single scene, Third person POV, multiple characters - how do I do it?

#14
The advice you got from Whoever is so close to what I was going to say that I don't have nearly as much to type. You also said you're rewriting it for one perspective, so that eliminates other things to say. I'll just stick with the following. 

I'm glad you have suspicion of the rules. As I like to say, writing is an art, not a science. The rules are more like conventions than laws.

That said, while you should always be willing to break convention, you should first understand why things became conventional in order to know what your audience expects. Like with a painting, the point of the art is not to produce realism but rather to guide your audience to the mental image you want. Many of the conventions are rooted in psychology, either because our brains work that way naturally or something has become so common that we've trained ourselves to expect it.

One of the examples in my head for a scene like this is from a Star Trek: The Next Generation novel, where a scene is effectively paused so we can hop into the heads of all the main characters to get their impressions. In an episode, we'd see their faces and get quick impressions in the space of a few seconds, but it would be external. It also took far too long and was incredibly jarring, to the point that I remember it despite only having read it once, almost thirty years ago.

Your original scene is not as bad as that one, but it's getting there. Without rehashing what others have told you (though you should really keep in mind Ararara's point about the difference between prose and film), remember that your original scene broke the most important convention of all: your own. You said this is the culmination of a lot of story, but also said this is the first time you tried multiple POVs in a scene. Think how jarring that is for the readers already used to your own style.