POV Comparison

I (currently) have only one 1st-person POV scene.  And that’s just not right.  So I’ve been considering my options.

  1. Change it to a close 3rd (to match the rest)
  2. Change Tyko’s close-3rd POV to 1st person (bearing in mind he is… well, the short description is he’s an “unreliable narrator” as well as inarticulate.  He’s a good observer but he acts on what he observes rather than thinking on it.  Not a useful narrator, either.)

So I lean toward #1, but in rewriting the scene it seems to lose something.

This is my first attempt to revise a chunk:

The boy was blind-angry, feet pounding for the door when Goran grabbed his skinny ankle, tripping Tykone onto his knees.
“Tyko,” he called to the air, breath escaping his chest as well as his mouth—despite the bloody hands trying to hold him together.  “One of us has to live.”  And then Goran held out his knife.  Blood was on its blade, but the ivory hilt was still clean.  “Keep it,” the dying man said.  “It is for my daughter’s husband.”
The boy did not then notice the signs carved in the long tooth, or recognize its value.  He only felt the thin material of his shirt clinging to his back and the heat rising in his face.  Tykone held the hand as it grew cool and hoped his small grip wasn’t a disappointment.

~ ~ ~

Here’s the original.   Tell me if you don’t think is more powerful (if you don’t find the word overkill):

Linnea was not un-loved.  One boy in particular thought of her constantly.

It was he—I— who found her, bloody and weeping in the woods, and ran for her father.  I wondered the rest of my life if I was the reason Goran was dead.

He grabbed my skinny ankle, tripping me into kneeling by his side before he died.  If I weren’t so blind-angry he’d never have caught me.  Either Magnus or I would have been dead that night.  Probably me.
“Tyko,” he called to me.  Despite the bloody hands trying to hold him together, breath escaped his chest as well as his mouth.  “One of us has to live.”

And then Goran held out his knife.  Blood was on its blade, but the ivory hilt was still clean.  “Keep it,” her father said.  “It is for my daughter’s husband.”   My young eyes did not then notice the signs carved in the long tooth, or recognize its value.  I only felt the thin material of my shirt cling to my back, and the heat rise in my face.  Bending over the dying man, I held his hand and hoped my small grip wasn’t a disappointment.  I knew he couldn’t see my tears.

~ ~

At the end of all this (truly, this is how my brain works, and probably half of why I blog) I recognize option number 3:  Cut the whole scene.

It’ll make some other scenes have to work harder (the reason I wrote it in the first place), but with enough elbow grease that could happen, and I think that would be better than stumbling through this change

The main reason I experimented with 1st- in the 1st place {grin}– was to avoid the confusion of pronouns or multiple repeating of names in a double-male interaction.

The second reason is that several times I’ve tried to get Tykone on-stage before Linnea so that the story might have that (proven) broader appeal of the sympathetic male character.  Even though Linnea is the MC, having a fellow engage the sympathies first seems like a useful ploy.

I suppose that makes me pretty calculating…

5 thoughts on “POV Comparison

  1. I think having an observer of the scene with her father is helpful. I think it would lend more depth to the knife as an object later.

    (I particularly like this line about the breath escaping his chest despite the hands holding him together)

    Is there a way you could put the scene later in the book as a flashback? You could give Tykone the first person narration of it then, as a recollection, either spoken aloud, written, or just in his head.

  2. Honestly, I think I’d have to read the whole thing to give a good opinion. I’m good at looking at a story as a whole, not one scene at a time.

    And what novel writer isn’t calculating. You’re trying to make a good story, after all.

  3. I left it out for a while, but after reading it aloud at a writers’ meeting last night I reinserted it.

    It gives the knife detail (in this excerpt) before Linnea has it, but I like enough of the other details (especially the ending line about “the cruelty of women” that hints at why L’s at her mother’s grave at the beginning of the next scene) And it follows the “show as much as possible as soon as possible” suggestion/rule. (My reaction to the clip is here.)

    By letting the readers know before the main character knows they can better understand the significance of Linnea’s disgust or rejection of the object in question.

    And, anyway, if an editor gets to the end of the first 25 pages s/he will have read 4-times as much 3rd- as 1st-person, so I won’t have to worry about giving the wrong impression (and, hey, if I get that far and all the fellow/lady wants if for me to cut that scene, I’ll probably be happy to).

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