Multiple Personalities

I feel like some books have schizophrenia.  Too many stories to follow, meaning you are in at least 4 to sometimes 8 peoples heads.  Who’s story is this?
Has anyone else heard the rule no more then 3 peoples POV’s per story?  Maybe this is a rule someone made up to drive people like me bonkers, because I can’t forget it.  My manuscripts usually have 2 POV’s.  The hero and herioine.  I feel like it helps the reader connect with the main characters.  But I am reading a book that has 5 POV’s.  4 of which I am fine with, but the 5th just seems superfluous.  Why do I need to be in the daughters head?

I feel like once you start getting away from the main characters the story’s owner gets lost.  Who is this story really about.  The author that has inspired this post is well established and is pulling it off okay, but there have been some books with too many POV’s.  I got lost.  I couldn’t keep one character from another straight.  Maybe the largest issue with that typically accomplishes this phenomena is that her characters weren’t well defined that they could stand out.  And i don’t mean well defined as in, hair color and shape of her nose.  I mean, the characters personalities weren’t different enough to make me realize they were separate people.

I love to write with two POV’s.  I hope others enjoy it too.  But when are there too many and how do you help the reader follow?  Do you think mind jumping into more then 3 is smart or just for the established author who has apparently decided to break every known rule out there?

9 thoughts on “Multiple Personalities

  1. Kelly Hashway says:

    I’m writing a book with dual POV next. I’m in the planning stages and it’s been really fun. I couldn’t imagine doing more than 2 though. As a reader, I find it tough to follow too many POVs.

    • M. Ziegler says:

      Good luck. I love writing with two people. I think it helps me connect to my own characters along with letting the readers. I hope your new attempt works well for you.

      • M. Ziegler says:

        Well, here i thought you were just very self-aware! hehe. We are all a challenge but yes agreed. It must be hard to keep everyone separate and somehow confine each characters thought’s without confusing the reader. One book series that does this poorly i think is the House of Night novels. Although they try to fix the deficiencies with each chapter being a different character. Too bad you get attached to one set of characters in book one and by book…. uh 10? anyway by the last book you are all over the place and not attached to anyone.

  2. Brenda Moguez (@BrendaMoguez) says:

    I enjoy writing stories like this in my writer’s journal. I’m excited to try a bigger project but have not, yet. I’ve noticed from the books I’ve read that have multiple POVs the writer establishes a pattern from the get go so it’s easier for the reader to follow along and not get lost.

    • M. Ziegler says:

      I would agree that for the authors who do it well start off with a rhythm that makes it easy to follow. I try to keep my characters separate by doing a break in the scene to change POV. Some authors master POV change mid paragraph but that, to me, is hard on the reader.

    • M. Ziegler says:

      I think a memoir is a very specific type of writing. People expect limited POV. For a fiction book, I personally have a hard time when an author skips into to many heads in a short amount of time. If i have not established the characters voice in my head I get lost and can’t figure out who is talking and when. It makes me put the book down. I hope your memoir does well!!

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