Saturday, November 29, 2014

Overlapping Scenes

I'm reading this book right now that is a very nice dystopian romance. Maybe it could use a little work but it's fine. The biggest issue I have with this book is the overlapping scenes. The author is telling the story from several different points of view, and while I have no problem with multiple POVs, even in first person, which is the case with this book, you really should avoid overlapping your scenes. Taking us through a dinner scene where the first two characters meet for the first time, first from one POV and then covering the same scene, to include the dialogue, from the other POV is a serious case of overkill if you ask me. I know, the writer was trying to introduce the background thoughts and feelings of each character, but there are better ways to do that.

What this writer did to help the reader know whose mind we were walking in was to title the chapters with the character's name plus a small hint about the subject. This is an excellent strategy when multiple POVs are being covered. What needs to be concentrated on is flow of the storyline. I can tell you first hand, it is incredibly annoying to be reading the same dialogue a second time. [Fortunately, so far, there has only been two characters to repeat any particular scene] Also fortunately, not every scene is overlapped, and each scene does advance the story.

What this writer needed to do is consider the information added in the overlapping scene and determine just how important that particular information is. Mere thoughts about how the other character looked or acted really aren't enough, if you ask me. Other important information could be added later at more appropriate times.

One thing I struggle with is repeated words and phrases; it's something I try to watch for and avoid - there is no point in covering the same ground more than once. Overlapping entire scenes is the ultimate repeat. I find it incredibly hard not to skip over the repeated wordings, but if I did, I might miss the information the writer is trying to show me.

Remember that every action, every reaction, needs to advance the story. In the case of overlapping scenes, it's like taking two steps forward, but before you can take the next two steps forward, you need to take a step or two back first. Try taking a stroll around the block like that. Yeah - I don't need to; I'm reading this book. 

I will not be recommending this book to anyone, and when I finish it, it won't get a glowing review. The story is good though. The characters are individual and seem to be strong.



William Kendall said...

I don't write in first person- it needs to be third person for me. And while I do write multiple POV, I do my best to refrain from overlapping.

Willow Drake said...

Good advice. I don't know that I could read a book written the way you describe. the author would quickly lose my attention. It makes me wonder if they used an editor. A good editor would have been able to redirect the author so the flow was more reader friendly.

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