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My 26-chapter story alternates POV between the main woman and the main man. Early on, the characters are geographically separated and the 2 POV timelines are both progressing, roughly in sync. If I drew a single timeline and mapped the two POVs/chapters to it, they would overlap here and there throughout. But this doesn't seem like a problem, because they are each living their own lives.

In the last few chapters, both characters are in the same space, working together. I still alternate POV, but keep the timing sequential and there is no overlap in the timeline between chapters. This also seems logical and good.

The one place I have an issue with the POV/timeline, is where these two characters meet, about 2/3 of the way through the book. As it currently stands, I show the female POV during a sequence of events, and in the next chapter I repeat those events from the male POV. The reason I am doing this is to set up the confusion (tension) between them, that they need to work through before teaming up.

Is it jarring to the reader to repeat events like this? Is there a way to say to the reader 'we're just going to repeat a few things here' - ??

Thank you.

  • I'm not in a position to answer, but there are several examples, both in books and movies, where this exact thing happens. Events are repeated from different PoV's. I personally always found it odd, but that is likely just me. I think the key is to not say the same thing twice. If your two PoV's see things differently and have completely different reactions, it doesn't matter if what they are reacting to is the same. This is just my opinion though. – Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron Oct 23 '17 at 17:32
  • Good question ;) very helpful. – shieldedtulip Oct 23 '17 at 19:39
  • Are your two characters just independent witnesses to the same event, or they interact with each other, and you will be retelling the same scene from two POVs? The former is done quite often, the latter IMHO is justified only when the difference between POVs is instrumental to the plot. – Alexander Oct 23 '17 at 20:36
  • @Alexander Independent witnesses. Male is eavesdropping on the female, hears only part of her conversation with a secondary character, and comes to a wrong conclusion. – DPT Oct 23 '17 at 20:38
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It might make more sense if you did the same thing, but shorten the chapters so the alternation is faster, event by event. Basically, "here is what Mike saw" then "here is what Nancy saw" for the train derailment.

Or equivalently, if you don't want to inflate the chapter count, you could just alternate within the chapter, and use centered bold sub-headings to indicate POV.

--------------------------------------------Mark--------------------------------------------

He heard the explosions in rapid succession before he saw the effect, apparently they broke the axles because the front wheels of the locomotive all tilted in odd directions as the locomotive itself seemed to lift from the track and turn toward its left... [continued as long as necessary]

-------------------------------------------Nancy--------------------------------------------

She heard explosions, off to the west somewhere, and looked to see if she could find the source. For a moment she froze as the saw the long straight line of train cars begin to unravel. Almost like dominoes, cars were falling off to the side, each pulling the next over with it, and the line of this action was heading straight toward her. She unfroze and threw her truck in reverse and floored it, before she even had time to turn and see where she was going. [continued for rest of train wreck]

That might be more clear to the reader, since each event would still be clear in their mind, and it would increase the contrast between the two POV for the same reason. They remember what Mark experienced, now right away here is what Nancy experienced. Then this is what Mark experienced next, and right away, here is how Nancy saw it.

Clarity is all that matters. If your editor doesn't like your approach, as long as it was clear, then it won't really matter, you can correct it to comport with his preference in no time.

  • it does seem clearer to shorten it. I'll take a look at that possibility. – DPT Oct 23 '17 at 20:39

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