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In my novel, there are three character perspectives that switch off every chapter. What are the ways to lead from one character perspective to the next and what are variables I should consider when using them?

For example, I was thinking to overlap the chapters so one character relives one scene from the last chapter but from their point of view. Would that make sense?


This is an extremely short question, but I think it explains itself pretty well.

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This technique of storytelling is much more common than may seem, essentially I've seen 3 main ways of doing it:

  1. Time continues, the next chapter opens by picking up where the story left of.

  2. Time goes back, the next chapter opens by repeating the episode changing POV.

  3. Time goes back farther than the previous episode, here you are displacing the reader inside a timeline.

The option for repetition is risky, so the chapter should immediately start by making up for it. Emphasis should be shifted from the timeline to the characters or plot...What grips the reader's interest isn't repeating facts, but some other device like:

  • placement in an overarching storyline.

  • the repetition becoming part of the character's independent story.

  • solving loose ends by changing perspective.

  • if it's the main character that's well developed and the former chapter was gripping the reader will want to know the subjective perspective.

  • if the writing is story-driven adding depth and details can expand or twist the original events. (So a repetition doesn't stop the action).

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No. Just build off of what the other characters have seen from their point of view in your next chapter. For instance, if John saw Jack and Mike fighting the demon from afar, then in the next chapter, from Mike's perspective, you see what the after experience of fighting the demon was. In this way you don't repeat plot that has already happened and by avoiding that, you don't bore the reader with constant repetition.

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    Yeah Ian, I agree with Joe here. I don't think you need to overlap unless telling an event from two perspectives serves another purpose in your story. Just make the character you switch to make a few comments about what happened in the past (perhaps they think "Watching [insert whatever happened] was absolutely insane. If I were him, I wouldn't have done that!"). Or they don't have to reflect at all. Just use context clues to your advantage. Reference things that the reader already knows about so things don't feel too disjointed, if that makes any sense (just my opinion)
    – Tasch
    Nov 2 '20 at 22:41
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    @Tasch, Thanks!
    – Nai45
    Nov 3 '20 at 1:19
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Showing the same scene twice, from two different points of view, is a rare technique for good reason. Only do it if for some reason it is vitally importantly that the reader know about the subjective reactions of both characters, and it is not feasible to use an omniscient point of view that can depict both at once. It can be hard to pull off even then because it's rehashing the same territory. Also, in my experience, it can be hard to pull off without being jarring.

The important thing to remember is to make the point of view clear when it switches. This is more important the larger the chunk in each point of view is. When it's as large as a chapter, you can do it by something as simple as putting the point of view character on each chapter. Another technique is to put the point of view character's thoughts on something in the opening paragraphs.

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Start a new chapter and make sure you clearly identify the new person immediately so there is no confusion.

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