Monday, November 1, 2010

Using Multiple Viewpoints

I usually try to stick with one point of view in my writing, because having more than one seems to get me all tangled up (my evidence for this is Novel #3, sitting abandoned in my file drawer). So why, in Novel #4, did I add another POV? Am I crazy???

In Novel #4, there is a bit of a conspiracy against the main character. I wanted the reader to know about it, without my main character knowing about it. (See how I'm already starting to get tangled up?) So, the second point of view sort of emerged from that idea. It's challenging, but it has strengthened some parts of my novel. Some of the benefits:

1. Bringing in another point of view has forced me to see the events in the story from a different character's perspective. In the past, I've found that focusing too much on the main character's perspective can lead to weaker secondary characters. By taking another character's perspective, it has made me think more deeply about character reactions and emotions.

2. Deciding where to bring in another point of view has made me think more about the timeline for my book and how the reader will experience the story events. Do I want events to happen sequentially? Simultaneously? How does that come across to the reader? I have to think about what each character has experienced and when, then mesh them together so that it doesn't produce a jarring effect when the novel is read. This is more difficult than I thought it would be.

Have you ever worked with multiple points of view? Any suggestions?


  1. This isn't an easy feat! I think the important part is to keep that voice of the viewpoint separate and distinguishable.

  2. I used 2 povs once, one from the past and one in the present. It's tricky but if done well can be great. Good luck! as long as the extra pov is needed then you're doing it right.

  3. I wrote a novel using two POVs. Alternating each chapter. I think it can be done.

    One thing I don't like is when POV changes in mid-chapter. It jars me too much.

    It's tricky but when done well it can make a novel pop.

  4. I'm using multiple POVs now. It allows me to use two different voices. One challenge has been to make sure I orient the reader at the beginning of each new chapter (whose POV are we in, and where is he?).

  5. Great tips, everyone! Christy, I'm going to have to work on that voice thing. I think the second POV character sounds very similar to the first one. Maybe I'll need to save that for the second set of major revisions.

    Wow, Laura: A time change with a POV change would really give you an opportunity to make them distinctive. But sounds like a huge challenge.

    Karen, I think you're right. So far, I've only done the POV changes for an entire chapter.

    And I like your point, Shannon, about orienting the reader to the change at the beginning. I try to do that with every chapter anyway, by at least mentioning the MCs name/location somewhere near the beginning of each chapter.


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