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I've decided that this novel would work best as a first person POV, and I generally wouldn't like to give that up. However, toward the end of the book, there's a series of scenes where the main character is helpless and unable to trust his own sensory experience, and it's up to his friends to save the day.

Given that he won't be able to see or (at the moment) understand how his friend is helping him, I'd like to switch POVs, but I'm not sure that the complexity or theme of my novel is upright or self-conscious enough to support that kind of jarring experience for the reader.

I could just leave it all in first-person as an introspective, and have the friend explain afterward how he saved him, but since the MC is possessed at the time, I'd like to be able to show the reader what the experience is like for his friends as well.

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    "I'm not sure that the complexity or theme of my novel is upright or self-conscious enough to support that kind of jarring experience for the reader." Could you explain this a bit more? I'm not sure what you mean by 'upright or self-conscious'. I'm also unsure how theme or complexity relates to switching PoV... – Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron Oct 16 '17 at 22:04
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    "MC is possessed at the time" - did you consider writing from "possessed" point of view? – Alexander Oct 17 '17 at 17:16
  • @ThomasMyron I feel like if you're going to temporarily switch from first to third so late in the book, the overall story needs to be emotionally charged or literarily deep enough to earn it. – KayleeTam Oct 18 '17 at 8:52
  • @Alexander Yes, but the possessor changes the MC's sensory experience so drastically from what's actually there that it would be impossible for the reader to tell what's happening in the 'real' world. – KayleeTam Oct 18 '17 at 8:53
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Yes, but the possessor changes the MC's sensory experience so drastically from what's actually there that it would be impossible for the reader to tell what's happening in the 'real' world.

You may consider narrating his warped sensory experience nonetheless. Aside from being an interesting writing exercise, it serves your point. If your readers are used to having his POV, they will follow you no matter what. Maybe your MC start seeing the word in a completely different, unexplicable way, but it's a great chance to give the reader a feel of how the possession is like.

As you noted, it may be impossible to give a detailed account of what is happening in the real world. This is true. My suggestion is: start writing the things from the MC point of view, and then consider pairing up those descriptions with a 3rd person narrator which explains what's happening, as Sara suggested. If done well, this should provide emotional value and a precise account of the facts.

Imho this is the best compromise, since you don't want to switch to the POV of another character entirely. You could also use a bit of the third option - have the friend explain afterward - to fill in the gaps after the facts, or add shock value (eg. "Where's Jon?" "You severed his head, barehanded").

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Since the character becomes possessed and it becomes impossible to follow his POV with a 1st person narrator, I'd suggest switching not to a different character, while maintaining the 1st person, but to a 3rd person narrator. I'd further suggest keeping the third person narrator as either limited to the main character (as a sort of out of body experience) or as an omniscient narrator (but as impartial and objective as possible).

I know you said you feel the story is not literarily deep enough or emotionally charged to merit such a change, but I do believe this is the best option regardless because you avoid the jarring experience of having a new POV in 1st person. Moreover, it will always be a bit jarring to get out of first person, but since the possession is jarring in itself to the narrator, it might just work.

I also think it will work best if the 3rd person narration is encased in a separate chapter of its own and if the tone is dispassionate, or at least clearly different from the normal tone. This should underline how lost the main character is, overcome by the possession, and thus requiring an alternative narrator that, in a way, also possesses (or takes over) the rightful narrator.

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I think the main issue here is how much do you want to front load the success or failure of the outcome. If you are in standard third person then most readers can assume that you character survives the story and is here to tell it to us. This can obviously be subverted but it's not in most cases.

If you let the friends explain what happen, then you begin by telling the reader that things worked out. Considering this is the main climax of the story you may not want to tell it is "everything worked out, here is how..."

Your advantage though is if you are in the past tense is that you can just narrate with future knowledge. This is a slightly different style and I do not know if you are already doing it "I punched Frank in the face, it was the biggest mistake of my life"

So if you are OK with future knowledge you can simply begin the section with, "I was unconscious for the following events, and was only told them later" and then just go through everything as it happen just describing it in third person. Maybe once in a while toss in the characters wrong perception of the situation as well. "Jamie had to keep me calm as I rambled about the big red ball. Ironically the ball is the only thing that I remember"

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