I’ll continue to answer questions today on those pesky Scenes and Sequels.
Somehow I always had it in my head that too much POV switching throughout your novel is bad. But I’ve been checking into my favorite novels and I came to the startling conclusion that even my favorite authors show more than 3 or 4 POV’s. For some reason, I was convinced that the best way to go was to stay in 1 POV, with the occasional slip into another to break the flow.
Is there a rule to this? Besides the fact that you don’t switch POV within a scene?
Randy sez: There’s no hard rule here. Many excellent novels have been written with a single POV. Many others have been written with several. The Godfather seemed to have dozens. It all depends on how many you need.
I have a scene that I’m wondering if it works: Some of the G/C/D elements are shown in recollections of the POV char instead of in a forward flow of time.
The scene starts with POV char looking forward to a trip (goal), relieved that things have finally worked out. A brief mental recollection about a friend shows us his reason for wanting to make the trip, giving us sympathy for him (?) The Conflict and Disaster that may have prevented the trip are shown next in his recollections, along with how it was resolved. This portion of scene ends with his current, doubtful but humorous view of the solution.
Randy sez: I’m not sure what it means that they “may have prevented the trip.” It sounds like this is all being told in flashback. That can work, but you should always ask when using a flashback why you need the flashback. It’s hard for me to say whether this works without actually reading the scene.
In further speculation of the scene in which I feared the disaster was for the wrong character, I realized that I may actually have a full scene, plus abbreviated sequel in one POV scene. The POV character is not faced with a huge disaster, but a slight bump on the road to the goal that is immediately reacted to and a decision is made in relation to it. The greater disaster, which is impending for the antagonist is actually a major plot of the book, so while it is a main part of the scene it isn’t actually the scene’s disaster. I’m beginning to realize that these aspects of scene/sequel can actually be quite subtle. So is it OK to have all those elements in one scene rather than breaking them up?
Randy sez: It’s quite OK to have a Scene and Sequel run together in one big glop. The reader won’t know or care. Your fellow authors will know, but they won’t care either, as long as it works. If it doesn’t work, the reader will put the book down and your fellow authors will mock you secretly behind your back. So make sure it works.
It looks like we’re running out of steam on Scenes and Sequels, so I’m going to go back to the list of questions that you all asked about a week ago and find a new topic.