Fun With Multiple POVs

Hi, everyone. As it turns out, I was supposed to post this post on the...third? However, some very important "saving the world" things came up, and I didn't have time to check up on my emails and realize that I should have posted.

However, now that I AM here, I wanted to talk about something very exciting, and that's multiple point of views in writing.

 Point of View is Important

You need consider the Point of View of your story before you start drafting. Do you want to write in first-person or third-person? (Or second-person, if you're really edgy.) Who is the right character to tell the story? Is there only one? It's definitely something to decide.

After all, you could go back afterward and change the POV in revisions. But, it would be so much easier to get that out of the way to begin with, so you don't have to worry about it later. If you're unsure, play around with different drafts of a few pages or a chapter, to get a feel of what you like best.

Just thinking of having to go through the manuscript to change every he to an I is bad enough, not to mention needing to rewrite half of the thoughts and descriptions. Or what if, after the draft, you decide you want to tell the story from a completely different narrative?

Yikes. I've had to clean up some pretty big messes in my time, yet that seems like one of the worst. So, it's a good idea to think of these things before you jump headfirst into drafting.

Now, you just need to decide

Is Writing in Multiple POVs RIGHT For My Manuscript?

It's hard to say, as it ultimately comes down to what you like and prefer. Of course, there is a very easy way to decide this, and it all comes down to asking yourself one question:
Who needs to tell the story?

Not who could possibly tell an interesting version of the story nor who is my absolute favorite character (because it doesn't have to be your protagonist). Who needs to tell the story?

This doesn't have to be one person. However, if you absolutely cannot narrow your list down from seven people, it might be beneficial to use an omniscient narrator.

If you narrow it down to two or three people, multiple POVs may be for you.

The biggest reason NOT to AVOID multiple point of views is because someone tells you they don't like them. Yes, I have heard people say they dislike a book solely because it has multiple point of views, but that's stupid. In fact, I dislike a person solely because they judge books for ridiculous reasons.

What do they know? Besides, there are plenty of great books written from more than one point of view. I know, for a fact, that Agent Maria Hill cannot get enough of Marie Lu's Legend trilogy (even though she may not admit it.)

So, if you like your multiple point of view, go for it

Just Remember a Few Things First

  1. This, right here, is the golden rule of writing in multiple POVs. Your characters must be unique from each other.When this rule is broken, it's the worst. Your characters should, regardless of POV, have unique personalities, but it's especially bad if you're trying to write in multiple point of views, as it causes the narratives to run together, which sort of defeats the purpose. If you open up to a random page, read a paragraph or two of narrative and cannot tell which character it came from, there is a problem. You are getting into the minds of two different characters so have fun with it. Let them be different! All too often, I'll see books that have dialogue completely unique to character, but narratives that sound exactly the same. This likely means that you're lacking a strong voice in the narrative. It can be fixed, but it cannot be ignored. Believe me.
  2. Don't create another point of view for the sole purpose of exposition.Yeah, I get it. You need to explain the bad guy's response to the hero team forming, and it's a feat that seems nearly impossible without switching over to the bad guy for a scene - just to let us know about this plot development. I get it. But don't do it. Your point of view needs to be more than just exposition. There can be another way to move the plot forward. (Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see a multiple POV with the hero and the villain. (If that's your novel/favorite novel, let me know) But not just because it is convenient.)
  3. Did I mention the importance of getting to know your characters?
    Know them all. Know them all well, and equally well. If not, you'll break rule number #1, and rule #1 cannot be broken. If you break rule #1, you only get four things.

But don't worry about it too much. When done correctly, writing in multiple point of views can add an incredible layer to your story that you wouldn't be able to see otherwise.

Plus, it can be tons of fun. Say what you want, but that's the most important thing.

Unless your idea of fun is making all your characters sound the same. Because that's not nearly as fun as the alternative. I promise.

-Agent Coulson

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for the advice... I was considering attempting a novel with the main character (first person) and everyone else in third person, if I ever needed to slip away from Connor...