In the case of a story where multiple points of view are used (already dicey perhaps, if wanting to stay true to the usage of Objective characters), do you think utilizing the IC’s point of view is a huge no-no? I admit to struggling with just accepting “they are not a character” at face value. Their primary purpose is to influence and impact the MC, sure, but I have difficulty keeping that sort of distance. I want to explain in some way why the IC is the way they are, especially since in a Change story, their viewpoint is so integral to the core of the story. I know a lot of this is just the difference between structure and storytelling, but at some point, they do overlap.
@MaddyV there’s definitely no rule against using the IC’s point of view as far as I know. Here’s a thread from a few years ago where others gave me some good advice on this:
I actually don’t think this is dicey. There are many, many novels out there that use multiple POVs.
I think it’s 100% okay. The only danger might be to you as Author, if you REALLY start to get into the IC’s shoes/head you might start to treat them and think of them more like an MC. This is not a problem at the scene level, but could be if it changes your picture of your whole story.
This has been discussed a fair bit before, here are some other threads/posts:
EDIT: cross-posted with @Lakis and looks like we linked one of the same threads!
So, the critical thing with the IC (and ANY Throughline) isn’t just that they’re not a character or set of characters… but that it’s a POV of the larger Story Mind… one way to look at what @jhull calls the “Premise” or Grand Argument.
It’s more about you as the author playing devil’s advocate to the Subjective POV.
My advice would be to forget the fact that you have characters in your story at all for a moment, and focus on what source of conflict… what dilemma you’re looking at from a different point of view.
Characters aren’t perspectives and perspectives aren’t characters.
You can follow the IC player without giving the audience a personal perspective on the problem through that character.
Just as you have a broken story if you don’t give the audience a personal perspective (see Tenet or, I think Avengers:Infinity War for an example of a story with no MC throughline), you run the risk of breaking your story by giving the audience two opposing personal perspectives if your audience is able to experience what it’s like to be your IC player. So my advice is that you can follow them, but be careful about how you do it. Shawshank Redemption is a great example of a movie that follows the IC player—most people think the IC player is the MC—without giving the audience a personal perspective with that character. I think maybe The Help follows the IC pretty closely, too, if I remember correctly.
If you need to give a personal perspective to the character, consider whether that character might be the MC in a substory. Like Nemo in Finding Nemo.
To add to what Greg said, the personal perspective he’s talking about is at the whole-story level. The way you would picture the story a day or a week after you’re finished reading it.
I’m not sure I agree with this… It’s expected that when you write a scene from any character’s POV, you are putting the reader in their shoes and they experience what it’s like to be that character. And there are plenty of great books where the IC has a POV. Just off the top of my head, The Bone Collector (novel) puts us in the shoes of Officer Sachs, makes us feel her pain and her personal frustrations. Yet there is no doubt quadriplegic Lincoln Rhymes is the MC.
Honestly, I’m not sure you can break your story by making your IC or OS character POV scenes too personal. I think it’s more likely you would end up creating a substory.
I think the more important thing to watch out for is having your IC look “at” your MC in an IC POV scene. Generally it’s better for the scenes where both MC and IC are present, to be from the MC POV. You can break this, and yes the IC can look at the MC in the normal sense (eyes). But if you notice it feels weird or your gut tells you something’s wrong, pay attention and consider changing things.
At least that’s my two cents!
If you treat Storymind perspective and character POV as two different things, then you can give any player a POV without also creating a Storymind perspective. For instance, seeing the IC players thoughts gives the audience a personal view of the character, but not necessarily a personal perspective on the problem/inequity. The distinction is that the MC has a personal perspective on the problem while the IC triggers change through conflict. So while showing the audience the IC players POV, the author needs to not also give the audience a personal perspective on a problem, but a perspective of how change is triggered through conflict by the problem.
Are you more in agreement with that?
Yes, 100%! Actually, I think you may have put your finger on something I wanted to be able to describe but couldn’t.
So for the IC, you can use the deep personal view of the character(player) in a POV scene to help convey to the audience an appreciation of the impersonal “You” conflict inherent in your story(mind).
And I think that may be why, no matter how personal you get with the IC POV scenes, showing their thoughts etc., there is always an “ineffable” quality to them. You feel like you can never know them completely because while the character/player may be known from within, the perspective and subtextual conflict they’re tied to is only seen from without.
you run the risk of breaking your story by giving the audience two opposing personal perspectives if your audience is able to experience what it’s like to be your IC player. So my advice is that you can follow them, but be careful about how you do it. Shawshank Redemption is a great example of a movie that follows the IC player—most people think the IC player is the MC
I would just add to this that you run the risk of your audience not experiencing what it looks like for the MC to look at the IC. Just like in Shawshank… Red is the MC and Narrator looking at Andy. We follow Andy as Protagonist through the OS, but it’s always seen through the lens of the MC, and only by that setup does it derive its meaning.
If we’re talking about a single narrative, I believe this is only for the MC. Why we call the IC the “You” throughline. We’re NOT in their shoes. We’re looking at them from the MC’s shoes.
I do agree that if you jump into their shoes, you’re creating a sub-story, or simply another Narrative (think Empire Strikes Back with Luke as MC, or Han as MC).
But to all of this, I would add/stress (which you did a bit too) that it’s not technically the MC Player “looking” at the IC Player. It’s the reader aligning themselves with the Subjective perspective, then appreciating that IC POV at a bit of a distance. Sometimes I think the names of these throughlines make everything a little confusing and wish we had more general terms for the MC throughline in particular.
Subjective POV? … Viewer POV?
I was talking about 3rd person POV technique in novels specifically, and especially deep/immersive POV. (which I believe is what originally poster @MaddyV was asking about, although maybe I should have clarified that lol – sorry Maddy I kind of assumed there)
I used to think that showing scenes in novels from IC POV, especially deep/immersive POV, would undermine the narrative structure. Since then I’ve found piles of examples where this is done and it works out absolutely fine, often strengthens the experience for the reader, in fact. (And I’m pretty sure substories are not involved in these cases.)
Really interesting… I’d love to check out some material like that. What are your top rec’s?
The example I referenced in my earlier thread was Lexicon, which is still one of my favorite recent thrillers. The book switches between two primary POVs (with a few brief switches to other OS characters here and there). At the time I wrote the post I wasn’t sure which character was MC and which IC. However, with the benefit of distance and experience I’m 100% sure now that Emily is the MC in that novel. It’s hard to say more without spoilers.
Cool! Here are a couple I could think of that I read in the last few years (since learning Dramatica) where the IC is given a POV.
Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman. Technically this is written in omniscient viewpoint, but tends to focus point of view mostly on one character per scene. (Gaiman doesn’t need to worry about rules, lol.) The IC is the girl Door, and there are many scenes showing her struggles, thoughts, even dreams. Yet there is no question that Richard Mayhew is the MC.
If you haven’t read it, Neverwhere is one of the best books of all time IMO. Try to get the “author’s preferred text”.
The Bone Collector by Jeffrey Deaver. Awesome page-turning thriller (also was made into a movie but I never saw it). Rhyme is the MC, Sachs the IC.
Thank you! I will check those out.
Also, I love that you’re talking a lot about what “point of view” the works are written in. Omniscient. 3rd person, etc. I’ve been playing with that a bit myself, and wondering if you’ve found any correlation between the OS Domain and the writing style?
Also The Secret Wife by ASA Harrison. And Gone Girl (the book) is a fascinating one.
Oh, I forgot about that one! That’s actually a great example.
Okay, awesome replies here!! Sorry, I did not look for threads where this was already mentioned, though. I should have done that, looks like similar questions have been brought up.
This is what I was looking for. These two comments together really help me formulate scenes from my IC’s POV. The audience can still get a sense of her mainly being an influence on the MC and the conflict.
I have definitely read so many scenes and even books where this is the case. It might be easier to do in more visual mediums, as well. This is really helpful!
Such a perfect example!!! The character of Amy is definitely impactful, and has that “ineffable” quality mlucas mentioned, even though you spend so much time with the character.
Not that I’ve noticed. But it’s an interesting question. Although it would be more at the level of presentation (sort of like animation vs. live action in film), it’s still very possible that certain narrative techniques would lend themselves more to particular domains.
I’m curious, do you mean within a novel or across novels? As in, do you mean that a novel might have OS beats and start using omniscient narration? Or do you mean novels that are romances vs thrillers etc (assuming OS domains partly determine genre of novels as they do films) tend to use a certain writing style?
I’m intrigued by this idea and also fascinated by pov in novels.
It is an interesting question for sure. We probably need more novel analyses (alas, they’re so time consuming).
Some possible correlations seem obvious – if I’m reading a thriller with two potentially unreliable first person POVs, my first guess would be that the OS is Psychology.
But then you have a book like The Unbearable Lightness of Being (omniscient, philosophical narrator) which is almost certainly OS Psychology as well (probably a Concern of Being.)