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Mar 4, 2009

Why I Shoot an Old Scene from A New Angle

Do you ever re-write the same scene from the PoV of more than one character? Do you include the variation in the novel, or just use it for reference?

I do both.

A lot of my stories play with Point of View. Not everyone in my world sees things the same way -- literally, because depending on their powers, they can see some forms of magic (some Chromas) but not others.

So as I comb over my new version of Chapter One, I am examining the meeting between my main character, Dindi, and the arch-nemesis of the whole series, Lady Death.

A bit of my dialogue is overblown and melodramatic, and I don't want that. Plus, Lady Death knows a great many things Dindi would like to know, but  Lady Death has no intention of revealing them. Accidently, however, Death does let slip out a few clues to her plans -- and her vulnerabilities. I have to make sure the secrets and slip-ups make sense from Death's perspective.

So I am re-writing the meeting scene from Death's PoV. (In Death's PoV, she even has a human name, but this is one of the things she will never tell Dindi). This scene, from this PoV, will not appear in any of the books. But it's useful in showing me where to adjust the dialogue. Ah, now I see, I realize as I re-write, Death is actually thinking this when she says that. But Dindi won't realize it.

Does anyone else do this?


I also want to distinguish between writing the same scene from a different PoV to be INCLUDED in the book, and writing a scene from a different PoV solely as character study. I do both.

As an example of a single scene retold from mulitple PoVs, I have a sequence which is told from a son's PoV and then, in a later book, from his mothers. The action and dialogue is all the same, but in one version we see what the son thinks of his mother (and what he thinks she thinks of him) and in another we see what the mother thinks of her son (and what she thinks he thinks of her).

Neither character would dispute the facts of what they did and said to one another, but hopefully the reader will still see the miscommunication and misconceptions which can arise even between two people who love each other very much.


Kate Karyus Quinn said...

I have never tried this, but writing a scene from another character's POV is an interesting idea. It kind of reminds me of this Rashomon movie that I've never seen, but feel like I have because my husband is in love with it - where the same story is seen through several different character's POVs.

Scott said...

Tara - the closest thing I can get to is what I did with my current project: three perspectives. With this process, there are some scenes that are easily viewed from the perspectives of all three characters. Now, I didn't do third person omnipotent where I'm jumping from one character to the next. Each section of a chapter deals with a different perspective so I don't confuse the reader (or myself while writing). So, the end of one perspec merges into the beginning of another pespec and is viewed by both characters.

Now, just for fun lately, I've taken my three perspective project and have begun rewriting it from a single perspective. WHOA!!! Like I said, just for fun since the three perspec project is out in query land right (write??) now! Still, it has been interesting integrating three perspecs into one.


Natalie Whipple said...

I've not actually written out the scene from another POV, but I have thought about it a lot. I did a project with 3 POVs as well and it was an adventure. I really enjoyed seeing things unfold and how each character took it.

Samantha said...

I'm reworking my first MG novel with alt POV's. I also tried writing a few scenes of GODDESS in the first, but ended up liking third close better. So yes, I tinker all the time. But really, you should ask me how many times I wrote my opening pages and revised...

I could write a book on that.

Kelsey (Dominique) Ridge said...

Kate - The difference there would be that in Rashomon the stories are entirely different in each version. They aren't just different perspectives, they are different truths.

Tara Maya said...

Dominique, I think you make a good point. In Rashomon, it's never clear which story is "true" and we are left wondering if truth is entirely subjective.

I use some Rashomon techniques in my book, but my theme is not that truth is subjective. (I don't believe that). My theme is that even when there is an objective truth, it is still inevitable we will all have an impartial view of it, like the blind men with the elephants.

Tara Maya said...

Excuse me, I meant a "partial" view, not an "impartial" view!

Michelle D. Argyle said...

I do a version of this in both my novels. There is a flashback/s that I tell from the different POVs of my main characters. It works very well, I think, and is interesting and exciting to the reader to see the difference.

Also, as part of my planning process, I tell the entire story of the book from every POV of all of my characters. Like a journal entry in several pages. This helps me see things from different angles and ultimately helps me get to know my characters better and write the story better.